Deconstructing Interference #2
In this issue of Deconstructing Interference we have some very cool recent releases. The obvious are the new chapter of Mamiffer's career (which we profiled yesterday), the most recent collaboration between Boris with Merzbow and the much anticipated return of Dalek! However, there is also the dark ambient constructions of Inner8, the brain melting noise of Surachai, and to top all off, the holistic electronic approach of Brood Ma and the soundscape emergence of Felicia Atkinson's and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's collaboration. Oh, and also the ode to end all laundry from Matmos.
Boris with Merzbow – Gensho
Gensho is not the first time these two Japanese acts have collaborated. Boris and Merzbow have released a series of albums, including works such as Megaton and Sun Baked Snow Cave, along live albums, with the exquisite Rock Dream standing out. However, Gensho is probably still their most ambitious work, spanning more than two hours and retaining a holistic focus in the careers of these two acts.
The original intent of these two album is for them to be played at the same time, much like The Flaming Lips’ more interesting than decent Zaireeka album. The Boris side features percussion-less revisits of previous tracks, including an excellent cover of My Bloody Valentine's “Sometimes.” The tone overall splits between the heavy drone riffs of the band and the dreamlike state that they are introducing. On the other hand, the Merzbow record features newly composed tracks, filled with the harsh noise quality and unpredictable demeanor that has followed the act since its inception.
The goal however is even more ambitious, with Boris and Merzbow deciding to allow the listener to participate in this “phenomenon” (gensho). The acts challenge the listener to play the records at the same time and adjust the levels as he/she sees fit, resulting in a unique experience every time (and of course the two albums can also be experienced separate of each other). It might seem quite a simple thing, but it actually works for the album, and as you listen and participate in its progression (even with such a simple act as raising and pulling down the volume) you feel like the center of this project. So, when you get the CD rip it to your computer, or if you buy it on record it should come with a digital download, get your digital audio workstation (or download a free one such as Audacity,) import the two albums and enjoy the ride.
Mara – Surfacing
Mara is the solo vessel of Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), and as is expected, comparisons to Mamiffer cannot be avoided. Surfacing feels like a stripped down version of that project, with Coloccia focusing mainly on the keys and vocals and creating a mesmerizing work. The album still is not completely devoid of experimentation, with the heavier ambiance of “Warmth, Shelter, Oblivion” and the introduction of “Flask of Hermes” revealing her low-key experimental tendencies.The release feels to have a similar, personal touch to the recent Mamiffer album. Both are deeply emotional albums, but Surfacing has a more intimate character. The melodic lines in tracks like “Sant'Elia a Pianisi,” the dream state of “Healing for the Wounded” and the delicate tones of “Nothing of Everything” are examples of this mindset.
Inner8 – Tetramorph
Daniele Antezza is sure keeping himself busy with Inner8. The project released both their self-titled full-length in 2015 and an EP, Kunshi. And, just a few months after the release of the debut album, the experimental electronic act makes a return with a new EP, Tetramorph.
Antezza takes pride in always challenging himself to evolve sonically with each release, and that is the case with the metamorphosis that takes place in Tetramorph. This EP strips down its noise exterior and dwells deeper into the dark ambient domain. In return, there is a subliminal quality radiating from the electrifying synths placed beyond the surface, in “Iteration,” resulting in darker pieces than we were used to from Inner8. The backbone of the music might still be found in the beats that Antezza produces, but in this instance we get an abstract approach. This manifests among samples in “Self Determination,” and in a tribal-esque fashion with “Consolidation,” granting unearthly grooves to the music, instead of the industrial tones found in the debut album. The further exploration in dark ambient music is also braver in this instance, with the final track “Aufhenbung” (featuring Koichi Shimizu) especially, extending its sound to colder territories, and big drones.
Dalek – Asphalt for Eden
Here we move into cult territory; the return of Dalek is imminent. Combining experimental hip-hop and sonic experimentation (dark ambient, noise), the band was founded in the late '90s and has since released five excellent albums, with Absence and Gutter Tactics in particular standing out. However, following the release of Gutter Tactics, Dalek went into hiatus, only to return seven years later with a new line-up and a brand new full-length in Asphalt for Eden.
In terms of sound, Asphalt for Eden is closer to the vibe of Gutter Tactics than the earlier works of the band, with the strange coalition between Public Enemy's attitude and My Bloody Valentine's heavy sensitivity, putting you in one hell of a trance. The mesmerizing backdrop of “Shattered” with its dark ambient tone and noise explosions, the feedback shrieks of “Guaranteed Struggle” and the dream state establishment of “Masked Laughter” find Dalek moving closer to the shoegaze area. On the other hand though, they still come in with much more power in the “Critical,” as the rhymes are spit with serious malice.
Surachai – Instinct and Memory
Surachai is a strange case. A few years back this producer was putting out an album entitled Embraced, where he worked for the first time with a band in order to produce a sickening record of black metal fury. Embraced was primal, brutal and yet finely-tuned and concentrated. In the following albums, Ritual, Form Volume II and Heavy Mask, Surachai dived head first in experimental electronic areas, retaining however the blackened perspective (in terms of ambiance) found in Embraced.
The return with Instinct and Memory finds Surachai caught between noise and dark ambient, unveiling mind numbing drones and otherworldly rhythmic patterns. The abstract synthetic percussion adds layers of unpredictability to the record, from the start of “Form Forty,” the exhilarating groove of “Wolves and Stars” to the completely deranged methodology of “Hollow Books.” Glitch incorporation comes into light with “Bleeding Shadow,” while a slithering progression is unveiled in “Teeth and Rivers.” All that is enhanced by the explosions of noise in “Exhale Death” and the harsher approach of “Hollow Books,” while the electrifying synths come in waves or bursts to complete the unstable mindset of Instinct and Memory.
Brood Ma – Daze
The third record by Brood Ma also marks their most ambitious output so far. The journey that started with their noise induced EBM of Fission, and saw them finding their own unique sound in Populous, reaches its (temporary) conclusion with Daze. An album featuring the asphyxiating deformation of beats, gathering influences across trance, hardcore, trip hop, IDM and what-have-you, turning them on their head and producing a work that feels like the soundtrack to an exploratory video-game.
The album itself starts with the “out-of-place” samples “Westerly Spawned Lamb” giving a more natural sound to the countdown of this descent into chaos. From that point on, the busy background spawns soundscapes, while noise injections set the tracks ablaze in “Be Yourself.” The heavy bass of “Sacrificial Youth” and the ritualistic tonality of “Social Re-Entry” are closely related with the mysterious approach of “Sex Compressor” and “Dim Returns.” However, there are also distorted instances filled with harsher sounds, as is the rave-like “Molten Brownian Motion” or the disfigured representation of reality in “Sex Contortion.” And still, more abstract structures are visited in “Well Equipped” as Brood Ma relies on the loose structure of the rhythmic parts, coupled with a very creative use of effects (even as simple as panning) in order to cause further disorientation, apparent in “Thorium Mox.” All in all, through the 30 minutes of Daze, Brood Ma presents his own Dismaland of electronic music.
Felicia Atkinson/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Comme Un Seul Narcisse
Experimental musician Felicia Atkinson and multi-instrumentalist Jefre Cantu-Ledemsa initiate an impressive sonic journey with their Comme Un Seul Narcisse collaboration. Fragments of sound are implemented in order are to construct their sonic landscape, ranging from sources as diverse as New York City subways and the ambiance of the Alps. The result is a cinematic work, led by the use and manipulation of samples. This work is able to transmit feelings of reminiscence, and sounds of nature, and yet at the same time unveil a more industrial-like tonality. Ominous melodies begin to arise, while frantic sounds are switching the mood towards the maniacal, while touches of dark ambient music grant the record a darker tone or act as interludes in this work. It all comes down to the construction of these motifs, with Atkinson and Ledesma putting together this intriguing mosaic, where each little piece has its place and purpose.
Matmos – Ultimate Care II
Great artists are able to draw inspiration from anything, no matter how mundane it might be. In their latest album, Ultimate Care II, that is what electronic duo Matmos (featuring Drew Daniel of The Soft Pink Truth) do. Using as a starting point a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine, they begin to explore the range of sounds they can get from it. Recordings of the various cycles are reproduced, tailored to make the pieces more coherent and musical. The duo even plays the machine as a drum, piecing together the resulting sounds and creating their own drum machine, unique and yet familiar.
It is astonishing how much Matmos can get out of this simple idea. As Ultimate Care II starts off you find yourself just going through a dull routine, listening to water entering the machine. Everything from your point of view could not be more realistic., but as the album unfolds, drops of surrealism appear, as if a strange daydream is transpiring, with Matmos traveling through alien soundscapes and conceptual breakbeats. And it is all presented in the same breath from the duo's perspective, uninterrupted and flowing seamlessly through time. What is next? I mean you give Matmos a laundry machine and they come up with an album filled with experimental electronic music, powerful groove, free jazz aesthetics and industrial tones.