brb>voicecoil – Dissolve into the Now

Posted: 2 April 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Muzamuza – 8th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Eighteen months on from Alms of Guilt and the prodigious Newcastle sound artist Kevin Wilkinson, aka brb>voicecoil returns with Dissolve into the Now. Active for over a quarter of a century, his field remains staunchly experimental and underground.

Forged from founds sounds subsequently manipulated and mauled beyond recognition, the majority of the seven compositions on Dissolve into the Now are briefer than on its predecessor, with more than half compressed into under five minutes. But what that compression of time also translates to is a compression of density. Wilkinson describes the album as the ‘audio equivalent of a bag of cats’. If only it had even one cuddly feature. Dissolve into the Now is pretty bloody difficult for the most part.

Understanding the title of the first piece, ‘The Great Antagnoiser’ as a play on ‘The Great Annihilator’ (not only a Swans album, but, perhaps more significantly, the name of a microquasar surrounding a black hole in the Milky Way), it seems appropriate for this springing, glitching, fragmentary spray of sound collapsing into atomic particles. It’s like an entire library of samples splintering as they’re dragged along a conveyor belt before being sucked to their doom. It paves the way for increasingly murky, and increasingly fractured, pieces constructed from later upon later of darkness and dissonance.

‘Assimilate 5.1’ is bleak, ominous, dark; sounds that evoke flames and the screams of animals as they flee a forest fire are half-audible amidst a mid-range thrum. Shifting, scratching, rumbling… there’s much by way of atmosphere, and none of it’s pleasant of comfortable, but at the same time, there’s nothing tangible to take hold of through this ever-shifting work. Frequencies sweep in and out, bubble and burst, fizz and fade in the blink of an eye, everything fermenting in a soup of miscellanea. It’s like a neurological explosion. Time and tapes run backwards at his speed in the erasural ‘The Fact it was Removed Doesn’t Mean it Never Existed’. By this point, everything’s really starting to fuck with your head, and that’s before the dubby-bass barrage of ‘Nod to the Mu’, which might be a dance track if it wasn’t subject to being mixed by a strimmer and mastered by a wood chipper and spat out as dust and pulp.

The first of the album’s two longer tracks (running over eight minutes), ‘Sycophant They Are – Watch Them’ is a frothing, foaming, fizzing mess of flickering circuitry spasms which shares common ground with Gintas K’s work. The second of the longer pieces is the closer, ‘Assimilate 5.2’, and it’s here everything is incinerated under the roar of a jet engine, leaving nothing but scorched earth. Obliterated, dissolved, we’re left with nothing but air and the roar of silence.

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