Posts Tagged ‘theory’

Dret Skivor – DRET008 – 6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest offering from Dret Skivor, a Swedish tape label specialising in drone and various shades of experimental noise, is the new album from Danish maker of electronic noise Thomas Li, who, as Li, has self-released almost a dozen works digitally. Biographical details are less than minimal, and that’s cool. Why do we need to know about the artist, their background or their back catalogue? Do we really need to know the context or the intent, the theory behind a work? Sometimes, when it’s an experimental work informed by theory or a certain concept, it helps, because the concept and theory are integral to both the process and the end product. Then again, there’s a danger that sometimes said theory or concept can impinge on one’s appreciation of the work. Sometimes, it’s best to just be able to listen, and allow oneself to be immersed in the sound, without pouring over lengthy liner notes, researching myriad avenues presented by the references, and straining one’s brain over concepts. This is particularly true of many works of a more ambient persuasion. I’m not remotely anti-academic or anti-intellectual – quite the opposite. But sometimes, you just need a break, and music can be the perfect conduit to vital headspace. An overemphasis on context can detract from the often underrated pleasure of simply listening, and enjoying.

Admittedly, enjoyment of an album like this is the preserve of a small minority: it doesn’t contain any ‘tunes’, it’s beatless, and it’s not always entirely mellow either. But it does have a great deal of texture, and this is something you can really lose yourself in.

Great Leap Forward contains three tracks, with side one occupied with the two-part ‘Olympia’ and the second side containing the eighteen-minute monster title track.

‘Olympia I’ is nine minutes of dense, churning drones, billowing sonic clouds that choke and smother, while counterpart ‘Olympia II’ gurgles and churns a dark whirling cyclone of sound. The latter is more interesting, sonically, with a lot more going on – meaning it’s also more challenging and more tense, as crackles and hums fizz and spin from the dank depths of bubbling noise.

The title track is altogether less tumultuous and more background ambient by comparison. Being eighteen minutes in duration, on the face of it, not a lot happens: there are no climactic blasts of noise, there’s nothing explosive or even overtly disruptive. And yet for all its subtlety, it is engaging, and there is movement, there are shifts and distract and divert. Howling winds blast over barren landscapes of drifting sand and strains of treble and whines of feedback emerge from the eternal mid-range rumble that drones on, and on, and on.

In the context of his output to date, this may not really be quite such a great leap forward, but it does clearly mark an evolution and an expansion on the soundscapes sculpted on previous works. And, played with the accompaniment of a candle and some CBD-infused beer, Great Leap Forward is a well-executed soundtrack to mental recuperation.

AA

tape label grab for bandcamp

Mille Plateaux – 6th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Motus is one of those albums that spreads eight pieces across four sides of vinyl. Most of these pieces are around seven minutes in duration, and manifest as grumbling, low-end analogue electronic instrumentals. Indulgent? Depends on your position, maybe. Audiophile quality? Vinyl addiction? While the pieces which make up Motus don’t immediately intimate a need for attention to detail and there’s no scope for the listener to bask in hearing the rich production values optimally through the medium of vinyl, the frequencies and tones that Köner explores probably do benefit from that full-spectrum vinyl sound, the audio uncompressed and benefitting from the full dynamic range, particularly those low-end sounds, some of which are so low as to almost disappear beneath the average listener’s hearing range.

Motus is steeped in theory, which is fitting given its release on Mille Plateaux, which takes t name – and also its ideologies from radical theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, after whose 1980 text Achim Szepanski’s Frankfurt label devoted to minimal techno, glitch, and other various other experimental electronic forms takes its name.

Köner says of the album that ‘Motus is more (to me) than just music made with analogue synthesizers, it is about attitude, a way of relating to sound and the (e)motion it affects. A lifestyle, where movement, being moved and moving become one. My practice is vibrational, about the skin, touch and surfaces and the gaseous medium in between.

Vibrational it is: these pieces tremble and quiver and grate and grind and shudder and shake and judder and growl.

The first piece, ‘EXTENSION (Attack)’ is a low, glutinous throb, a gelatinous bellyache of a pulsation, rent with crackling, grating treble spurs that scrape at the walls of the cerebellum and scratch the lining of the gut. It’s unsettling, and marks the start of the album’s trajectory, which is unexpectedly linear, and follows a slow descent towards sluggish sludge that’s barely a muddy bubble by the end.

Along the way, ‘SUBSTRATE (Binaural)’ is a low, oscillating throb that expands and resonates over seven brain-bending minutes: there’s something about the more subtle of variations having the most torturous effect, especially when there’s a metronomic pulsing beat lurking beneath, while ‘OSCILLATOR (Luminous)’ reduces everything to an ambulating low-end slip and slide, a muddy melt of trudging bumps. The final cut, ‘SYNTHESIS (Carnal)’, takes things lower and slower still, to the point of near subliminality, slowly winding and grinding into the ground.

Motus is an odd one, an album that undermines itself as it evolves, reducing itself to a lesser sonic amount with each piece. And yet, as the sounds shrinks to little more than a gloopy brown puddle, the effect grows.

AA

MP6_front