Posts Tagged ‘Audiobulb Records’

Audiobulb Records – 2nd March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Experimental and underground music, particularly of the electronic persuasion is a broad field, but, it would seem, a small world.

During lockdown, the Nim Brut label hosted a series of virtual gigs, where performers would submit sets accompanied by visuals, and the resulting streams were varied and eclectic, in the best possible way, presenting the full breadth of the melting pot of a diverse and disparate milieu. As is so often the case with events of this ilk, everyone was not lonely accommodating, but welcoming toward one another, celebrating the differences in style and approach.

Feast 5, back in August of 2021, was a belter, and not only because as half of …(Something) Ruined I got to unleash new brutal noise in a safe environment, but got to do so alongside some remarkable artists, notably Omnibael, who have featured a number of times here. Also on the bill was a performance so brief as to barely be an interlude, something I described as a ‘shifting wave of glitchronic ambience’ courtesy of Neuro… No Neuro, of whom I knew nothing, until today, when on the arrival of Faces & Fragments in my inbox, I learn that NNN is ‘a moniker of the electronic musician Kirk Markarian, an avid synthesist, drummer, abstract painter, and graphic designer residing on the alluvial plain of the Sonoran Desert, in dry and dusty Tucson, Arizona’.

The title is a fitting summary of the album, both its input and outputs, and the lived experience of listening to the thirteen pieces, which are as much collages as compositions.

As the liner notes explain, ‘Each track illuminates fragments of memory and speech, as they wander out of focus in the growing aperture of time.’

As such, each piece is formed, sculpted and layered, from an array of sounds and sources, snippets, and scatterings, fleeting and ephemeral; chiming notes ring out over soft washes, sporadic glops and plops, like drops of water falling in a cave, overlaid with brief fragments of voices. On ‘Everybody is Out to Get You’, those voices slow, distort, blur, into a nightmarish nagging. It drags on the psyche, against a skittering, jarring backdrop what warps and tugs unsettlingly, and makes for awkward, queasy listening.

Neuro… No Neuro’s own comments on the album’s formulation and function bring us closer to the heart of the state of confusion it creates, explaining, “Each track shares the ‘fragments’ of speech/memory, the growing aperture of time and loss of thought. While forming sentences via type has not declined (because there is time available), speech and recollection are steadily decaying into simplified phrases and poor playback for quick address.’

As William Burroughs said, the function of writing is to ‘make us aware of what we know and don’t know we know’, and this was particularly pertinent in the context of the cut-up texts he produced, essentially collages of other texts designed to recreate the real-time experience of memory and sensory awareness, and the simultaneity of events. We do not live in linear time; we experience multiple sensations simultaneously; thoughts, sounds, conversations, things happening around us all occur on the same timeline, in layers, and our memories record these experiences. This is the sensation that Neuro… No Neuro recreates with Faces & Fragments, from the stop start jittering of ‘Slice of Mind’, to the trickling sedation of ‘And the Energy Goes Back to the Ground’.

The faces blur into anonymity after a while; people look alike and are strange or strangely familiar, and things can get confusing after a while. Faces & Fragments may not – and probably doesn’t sound just like your internal monologue or the soundtrack to your life, but structurally, the resemblances are clear once you step back and reflect. Our thoughts are a jumble of intrusions and overlaps, with memories and recollections triggered by the most random associations and events, sometimes with seemingly no trigger at all, and all flitting through at the same time as you’re watching TV or scrolling through social media shit on your phone as messages and emails ping in and there are conversations and the radio or TV is dribbling away while dinner’s bubbling away in the oven. Life never stops: it happens constantly and all at once, overlapping, overwhelming. Faces & Fragments is a slice of life.

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Audiobulb Records – 5th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The wonderful thing about stories is that there are no rules – no rules about what they should contain, how they should be told, or whose perspective they should be told from. Even the standard expectations of ‘beginning-middle-end’ are an artifice, and for any convention, there are infinite ways to deviate from it. Linearity is a construct which assists in rendering events more easily navigable, but sometimes, disrupting that linearity is an integral part of the unravelling of events. Stories – be they true or fictional – are often a way of making sense of the world through the construct of narrative. Sometimes, we forge our own narratives from fragments of confusion in order to orientate ourselves, and as such, stories are instinctive and integral to our understanding the world and our place in it.

The fourth album from Quiet Noise, the vehicle of West Wales based producer Adam Wilkinson, is, like so many albums from the last year, the product of lockdown. ‘In a studio that overlooks a valley where the air breathes a lone craftsman sets to work mapping his experience through experiment,’ his biography tells us. Does this mean that Wilkinson was perhaps better equipped than many to deal with the last fourteen months, given his solitary nature? Not necessarily, but while many lockdown musical projects, which have been steeped in an air of claustrophobia, anxiety, and tension, Story Machine is a breath of fresh air that conveys aa sense of – if joy is too strong, then appreciation – of life. Perhaps it’s the fact that after four years being busy producing music for singers and film makers, Wilkinson finally has time out to return to the world of Quiet Noise to explore his own avenues of creativity. Adam explains the limitations that determined the album’s formation, recounting, “stuck at home, sitting with my wife and children while they worked from home, I set myself the challenge of creating pieces using only equipment that could fit in my space on the living room table. Motivated by my game and pleasantly surprised by what I could achieve.”

For the most part, Story Machine is an overtly electronic set that comfortably incorporates a diverse range of styles from across the spectrum – and a large portion is fresh and accessible, danceable even. The range is such that the individual pieces feel as though they each tell their own stories – but then again, taken as a while, perhaps they’re chapters of a longer story that is the album as a whole.

With bold, surging orchestral strikes and tension-building strings, ‘Grand Entrance’ is appropriately titled. ‘Climbing Trees’ is altogether more light-spirited, with a buoyant electro beat and birds twittering – although it suddenly explodes in a surge of light that’s a veritable epiphany. ‘Murmurations’ brings a very different vibe, with a straight-up dance groove. The beats are bold and uptempo, and while the top synths are quite soft and subtle, bringing an expansive but chilled later to the sound, the bass is bouncy and urgent.

In among it all, there are some moments where vast expanses of sound burst seemingly from nowhere, radiating an almost prog-rock grandiosity. These bursts of extravagance are a shade audacious, but somehow, they work. Above all, Story Machine is an uplifting experience, and in the face of so much bleakness, it’s one that’s most welcome.

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Quiet Noise Story Machine Cover 12 v2