Zonk’t – Banburismus

Posted: 28 March 2018 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sound on Probation – SOP018 – 17th April 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Zonk’t is one of the many guises of polychrome composer Laurent Perrier. According to his biography, while many of these projects often share many common elements, they are all built on a strong individual identity, and are therefore distinct and different from one another. Thus, Zonk’t ‘has always been a way of exploring the most ambient fringes of dub, and the transition from the all-digital to compositions made entirely on modular synthesizers has overall not changed its approach in depth’.

The album takes its title from the cryptanalytic process developed by Alan Turing during the Second World War, which ultimately facilitated the deciphering of the coded messages the German military produced via their Enigma machines. The track titles all relate back to the theme of the title. However, this album seems more concerned with the evocation of messages buried or encoded than the application of complex formulae to the compositional methodology.

‘Square’ (which I assume to be a reference to the Polybius square, also known as the Polybius checkerboard, which in cryptography, is a device invented by the Ancient Greek historian and scholar Polybius, for fractionating plaintext characters so that they can be represented by a smaller set of symbols, at least according to Wikipedia). occupies the entirely of side A, almost 20 minutes of slow-paged ambient dub propelled by thick, heavy beats. Thin, twisting sinews of sound like strings stretch across the space and spin layers of texture.

Side B contains three more short-form compositions in the shape of ‘Chronogyre’, ‘Colossus’, and ‘Conditional Probability’. The first of these forges a low, deliberate groove that undulates at a deliberate pace, while erratic, glitchy beats and crackles of static flitter and clank through the swampy tones. ‘Colossus’ picks up the pace and the bass-centric density, thwupping and thrumming in waves. A stark synthesised stab echoes out before the final track – the most direct and beat-orientated of the set – conjures an immersive retro-futurist groove.

It’s the combination of space and bass-orientated groove dislocation that makes Banburismus worth the effort. It’s not immediately accessible, and doesn’t sit comfortably in either the ambient or dub genres. Crossovers as far removed from not only the mainstream but the mass market as this will inevitably slide into ultra-niche categories, but this by no means devalues the work. If anything, the existence of Banburismus only further illustrates the need for art more than mere entertainment.

AA

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