Surprise, surprise ! This seems to be the common denominator in all three records here, though they do not operate in the same field, as Thomas Ankersmit takes the listener for a ride on the Serge analogue synthesizer, while Alexei Borisov/Anton Mobin conjugate tapes and electronics, dictaphone/voice, and Marc Baron exhumes his Hidden Tapes and plays with the readymade artifacts he supposedly dug out of memory. All three works are very much controlled ones, or so it appears to me, and the outmost quality I found there is a deep sense of adventure being offered : as a Raymond Roussel aficionado, I appreciate these three different trips around (and away from) my own room, blindfolded and headphones on :
UK TOUCH TO:93 CD (2014)
Thomas Ankersmit’s display alternates great washes and grainy specks, from tiny microdots to huge windy wash-ups, with piercing-clear rays of trebling frequencies. The tiny bits travel east-west at high velocity, while chiming notes occur, lateral stripes cutting abruptly in the created aural space. There are very clear contrasts to be heard, and soon swarming insects of the tiniest kind are buzzing face, front and sides. One could say there is drama here, tension, but a beautiful one, going on, of majestic grandeur.
This piece deals a lot, like the other two records, with creating spaces, through a game of many ruptures, distance, and silence. The adventurous listener goes through blocks of micro-elements, when a rupture occurs, giving way to a subaquatic insect colony emitting signals; and it’s constant, while some kind of call/response communication system comes to mind. Silence spreads, and whistling notes emerge from it; we’re in the midst of a micro-world, examining its scope with lenses; and that scope sounds broad, for sure.
A real world, as if monitored though a zoom lens. But nothing remains for contemplation : things move constantly, like this fat pulsation slowly coming ahead, closer, closer.
The whole work could be labelled “clinical”, if the word itself wasn’t so overloaded. But clean it is, like the sleeve itself, delicately showing contrary dynamics of horizontal/vertical/oblique holds, and wild flying sparks as light ideograms vanishing as they appear.
Alexei Borisov / Anton Mobin
Try to Crawl Out of It
POLAND MATHKA CD (2013)
Somewhere else is where Alexei Borisov and Anton Mobin take us : their seemingly improvised delivery starts with clinical clicks that introduce resounding whip-cracks and reverberating bells : bouncing bass strings come and go, suspended time draw a prelude : anticipation, preparation, one expects a sudden dive : tension builds up to a concert of winding springs and rattles, inter-cut with mashed metal ! Tapes are somehow unwinding at high speed, spelling more start/stop/rewind action. Words here are mouthed as confessions or even a forgotten poem, with some hiccup-piano rather detuned (or is it my ears), looped. Blips and cuts, curves and hisses, snippets obliterating a conveyor belt-like chain, all crash and then erupts some tape-music. Down phased low sounds, while someone is busy manipulating unnamed objects, bells clang, machine stops. All along, there’s clattering going on with feedback, while a click-track allows a slight cadence; speech, multiple presences, the assembled music builds up, a pulse beats on ! People sometimes voice things over electronic dynamics, and all converge to a motor-like generator sound, gently humming as round shapes build up again, preceding interruption, with feedback sirens, and a beating heart can be heard behind simultaneous events. The beat frenzies upward and melts again, crashing like waves on the shore. It’s a high energy trip we’re going through, not some new-age meditation session.
Electronic glissandi introduce rotor movements, and here comes the gentle machine again, a grainy motor-thing spilling particles, shaking the air (though one can breathe). A beautiful fade-out even reverberates here and there. We’re dealing with a less clinical world here, though its adventurous qualities never suppress your air : you don’t suffocate the least bit, no.
Grains, blocks being moved, volumes changing, fast shrapnels, fluids; rotating landscape, whipping elements flying over. Sparks, as it sounds like. The whole soundscape here seems highly mineral, but with an inflammatory quality to it. As for the two other records, things sound like nothing unusual, nothing alien : operations giving shape to the sounds are like necessary ones : everything is precisely executed (or so it seems, according to a procedure) : whether there are mash-ups, they have to happen whenever they do. Then, surprise, concluding a breathy running sequence, a terminal punch brutally hits. You hadn’t seen it coming.
All along the successive tracks, we meet scraps of “romantic” songs punctured with obvious seams, fast material flying by, voices and vehicles. A subtle cooking of mashing explosions, firecrackers of bouncing elements, tapes winding/unwinding, strings, feedbacks on more clicks and cuts, along with cartoonish beings expressing urgency : communication deteriorates to a climax.
There’s something ritual, processual, building, that allows forms to emerge, in this record. One gives birth to a form, but it is inconstant, hard to sustain : a construction, tense and striving to keep its balance, that which is constantly attacked. Signals abound, like probes sent into the surroundings.
Around the end appears a crushing pandemonium conjuring a fun-fair animation : children, garlands. The dark visual information itself conveys this edgy quality, it’s mad as successive thoughts erupt and vanish madly within one person, within seconds.
FRANCE POTLATCH P214 CD (2014)
Here do we understand “Hidden Tapes” as containers, memory vehicles of what existed once : Playing these tapes leads one to conducting scorching clicks, stops and more clicks, along with close-up cracklings while taped music and dervish-like vocalist play on in the background. The musician as a conductor of “found” sounds. Even as crashes occur, or cracklings, or granular distortion, the general tone remains softened, warm. Coming and going, the buzzing sounds display a delicacy. Whenever an airplane-like motorized event happen, there’s a cosy saturated melting that spills all over, and soon, clicks abort the ensuing deluge. A concrete/discrete hissing of feedback wails, as the occasional clicks punctuate the rain. There’s hardly any blur, rather clear clattering objects. Distance is conveyed through rumour, with a zoom in/ zoom out action in control. Fingers malaxing material, blurred scraps and bits of sticks transformed into sand, through some operation : this conducting of sounds reveals an alchemical character, somehow : the contrasted elements at stakes seem to be rubbed against one another, in order to produce a third juice (at that stage, a crowd cheers, maybe in a pub ?) A door being shut ends it all.
Still, nothing hurts in this work : all splinters are carefully polished, and while they may cut, they never hurt the ear, you might even feel like bathed in spiraling drills, and still experience a cosyness (creamy bass drones shower the room). Circulation in a tubular environment could come to mind, if a series of switches weren’t close enough to re-locate your perception at a present time : as if you were on the driver’s seat (you’re driving through the past, remember : tapes); here and there, we hear words, voicings anyway, echoing people at a distance, grainy minglings, and the materiality of the tapes sometimes show : rusty, eroded/ contrasting with a majestic trombone build-up, ascending like waves… then the “eject” touch is pressed.
When field recordings appear obvious, it’s “field” in the magnetic sense of the term. Cut again, with faraway screams and very close moves, as if the mic operator had miked his KWAy up (for yes, it’s now raining particles). Awashed with that rain, we can reach a safe shelter, from which vantage location we can appreciate the warm deluge outside and if there’s scattered people here and there, there’s no panic : our safe island sure can filter out what goes on around.
Often “things” fly past us, we are unable to count or report them (because of the altitude and obviously, the cruising speed). There’s generally a playful sense of inside/outside, within/without, zoom in/zoom out engaged.
The sleeve speaks : Staring from a distant place, we overlook superimposed sepia photograms of the taped circumstances, while the inner sleeve displays a bright deep yellow field bearing a few lines of informations.