Posts Tagged ‘Chlorine’

1st October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Velvet Teeth was originally released as a 200 only limited-edition CD through the October issue of TQ Magazine, which is the kind of publication that gives coverage to the likes of Ceramic Hobs and Drooping Finger – not so much competition for Aural Aggravation, but a channel with a shared goal of giving coverage to the kind of acts most won’t, assuming they’ve even heard of any of the artists. The funny thing about niche music is that it has a fairly hardcore set of devotees, and there’s a kind of disparate, disconnected community that’s less of a scene and more of a rhizome-like underground network. And while a lot of fairly niche stuff may still only have a potential market of around 200, it’s often amazing just how many oddballs there are hiding in the cracks demanding the work of some bands that on the surface seem so obscure that even their mates haven’t heard of them. Chlorine – the musical vehicle of Graeme Hopper – certainly has that wider appeal, and moreover, most certainly deserves wider exposure and the opportunity of a larger audience.

Velvet Teeth is experimental in the most explicit sense, a sequence of fragmentary sonic collages. The longer pieces roam around murky depths with ominous fear chords obscured by laced shrouds of sonic fog. ‘Manlines’, with its down-tuned, sinister vocals and groaning, droning dissonance, and ‘The Scenic Route’ exploit dimetric tonalities and the prominent separation of frequency ranges, with rumbling, almost subliminal low-end providing a base for niggling treble. The six-minute ‘Low Hauxley Tide’ pushes further on the resonant low-end pulsations, a low, tidal throb providing the main body of the piece. It’s kinda mellow, but kinda shiversome, too. There’s a creeping fog of darkness that pervades both the piece, and the work as a whole, which creates a certain sense of separation. It’s simultaneously immersive and engaging, but there’s a feeling that you’re not quite in the same room and there’s a force-field preventing entry.

‘Who Pays for This’ is a spine-tingling mess of scrapes and jangles, muffled, slowed speech that’s just on the cusp of indecipherability, and elsewhere, ‘Bubbewraps’ is woozy, wibbly, vaguely disorientating. The album as a whole is built on a loose, drifting fluidity, with compositions that aren’t so much compositions as sonic coalescences which occur as much by chance as design.

Uncomfortable, awkward, unsettling… these are the positive qualities of the oddity that is Velvet Teeth.

AA

Chlorine - Velvet

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Panurus Productions – 19th November 2018

The title connotes very little that’s immediately apparent. A mass of zombies in The Walking Dead? The blank faces milling around in Asda on a Saturday afternoon? More than anything, I’m inclined towards abstraction, which is precisely what dominates this unusual assemblage. It’s pithed as ‘an 8 track dreamlike journey through electronics, looped field recordings and sampled textures’. It’s a fair summary, although it fails to convey the subtlety and nuance that define Loser Herds, which explores some highly detailed sonic canvases and probes the corners of those spaces.

“This is a test. 1, 2, 3, 4, Error.” It’s a striking start. The voice is close to the mic, and it’s a dry sound, somehow amateur-sounding… It’s at odds with the soft interweaving chimes that slowly rise up in the mix and gradually form supple rhythms that ebb and flow organically. The tracks segue together, shimmering with delicate, subtle ripples cascading multifaceted sonic tapestries. The higher frequencies shine opalescent refractions of light, spinning radiant atmospheres. Welcome to the world of Chlorine, the musical vehicle of northeastern visual artist and musician, Graeme Hopper. Citing Susumu Yokota or Tim Hecker as reference points, Loser Herds is an immersive, layered collection of compositions – although it’s perhaps more accurate to describe it as a single piece in eight parts.

The album takes a strange and ugly turn halfway through, when following the soft glissandos of ‘A Westerly Wind’ and ‘Buskers Night’, a screed of gnarly electronic grinding more reminiscent of Merzbow or Whitehouse clanks in under the guide of ‘Spotify Are Bunch Of Fucking Criminals Who Need To Be Crushed’. It might not be speaker-shredding torture, but it’s likely to be pretty unpalatable to most, especially those seeking the comfort of semi-ambient sonic drifts, the likes of which occupy the rest of the album’s space.

In combining samples with electronics, acoustic instruments feature quite prominently at times, although not always in the most conventional ways. Bewildering and intersecting time signatures paired with warping notes abound on ‘The Distant Breach’, before the epic finale, ‘Forever is Not Long Enough’ draws together all of the aspects of the album to create an immense sound collage that begins gently, but builds incrementally with burrs of distortion and increasing density. Cracking, fizzing overload, woozy cyclical grooves and grating, churning extraneous noise congeal behind an obfuscating gauze of soft-focus fuzziness. It concludes an immersive experience with greater immersion, rounding of a wonderfully wide-ranging work.

AA

Loser Herds