Anticipating Nowhere Records – 24th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

With the colossal five-volume ‘Isolation and Rejection’ lockdown compilation series and the one-off final final FINAL Front&Follow project, the compilation You Can Never Leave released in June, the eternally restless Justin Watson can put his label to bed and resume work with his current musical vehicle, the collective who operate as The Incidental Crack to deliver album number two. After all, it has been more than three months since second album Municipal Music.

The three – Justin Watson, Rob Spencer and Simon Proffitt – are still yet to meet, and their third album, like its predecessors, took form with ‘them exchanging field recordings, samples and random noise between Manchester, Wigan and North Wales’.

As the liner notes recount, ‘Detail contains within three new long-form pieces and a couple of shorter ones filling in the gaps. The adage goes that the devil is in the detail, and Detail brings exactly what the title promises, with the first composition, ‘We Might Bump Into each Other’ beginning with some muffled dialogue and an ominous hum, then hums, bubbles and slurps against a backdrop of echoic reverberations, before ‘Fish Dance Tank Track’ marks a shift in style, with more defined beats – an insistent bass bump occupies a different space from the glitchy fluttering woodpecker-type stammers and stuttering hi-hats which all make for something quite complex beneath the drifting drones and quavering hums. It’s an interesting and complex composition that brings together elements of ambient and minimal techno, and as birdsong flutters in toward the end, the piece takes on new aspects that juxtapose nature and artifice.

That the grating looping throb of the six-and-a-half minute ‘Waterfalls Per Capita’ should be considered a gap-filler is a matter of context, and it comes after the harrowing dark ambient collage of ‘I Lost It’, that is by no means a comfortable or easy listen.

The seventeen-minute ‘Morning Tram’ combines field recordings where the original source remains clear, but with subtle but insistent beats, and it’s perhaps there – the finale – that everything comes together. Fragmented samples and snippets of dialogue collide with tumbling trees and slow-turning washes of ambience to create remarkable depth. Passengers pass on and off, engines rumble past, there is endless chatter and a wall of extraneous sound. Assimilating it all may be difficult, but it’s rewarding. The beat is almost subliminal, but it’s relentlessly insistent and registers almost subliminally as the sound swells and voiced clamour and congeal among a rising tide of horns and other momentous sounds. And then it stops, abruptly.

It may be short in terms of tracks, but Detail has substantial depth – and much detail, all of which is very much worth exploring.

The Incidental Crack - Detail (cover)

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