Distressed Frequencies

Bryan Eubanks / Stéphane Rives

Here we have Bryan Eubanks with his trusty oscillators and feedback synthesiser; and Stéphane Rives on soprano saxophone. Eubanks has previously worked in collaboration with Catherine Lamb, Jason Kahn, Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura, while Rives was involved in the Propagations saxophone quartet album also on Potlatch and plays in duo with percussionist Seijiro Murayama. Of his own practice with the saxophone, Rives says: “…Once one adopts a way of thinking based on the sort of filtering any electronic musician does, one’s attention is drawn to the tiny micro-events that are barely audible in a traditional approach…” So based on this statement alone, a good match for Bryan Eubanks it would seem. This is from 2014 and as I’m a bit late getting my hands on it, you may be aware that it has been very well-received from certain quarters of the UK scene already.

Lots of high end frequency distress to begin with. Eubanks is not afraid to get his hands dirty with the synth feedback – some really brutal tones are being generated here. The feedback techniques Eubanks employs create explosions and glitch-chatter, fizzing emptiness and white-hot contusions rather than the high pitched drone effect that you might expect when the word “feedback” is bandied about. It does sound a bit like cheap-mic feedback at 15:20 though (one of my favourite noises – it may not be yours) before descending into utter madness/silence. Rives keeps his end of the bargain up; his sax multiphonics blend seamlessly into Eubanks’ output. An interesting characteristic of this music that I’ve noticed over repeated listens is that sounds occasionally appear to come from other parts of the room rather than from my hi-fi speakers. I’m not suggesting that some kind of surround or multi-channel processing is being used (there’s certainly no mention of such a thing happening anywhere that I can find), but perhaps there is some small level of perceptual disorientation at work by use of sounds extending outside of normal human hearing?

Amongst the crushing bouts of signal distortion, there are some interesting “beat” frequencies around 8-9 minutes and some tonally interesting work around 11 minutes, surrounded by flashes of squall and dither. At times, surprisingly similar results from the two different sources. Things move up and out of the range of human, or at least my, hearing around 24 minutes. It is impressive the way Rives can follow the electronics even into super-high frequency range. For fans of electronics in distress for sure. Alternately brutal but with a light touch.

As an interesting post-script to those of you of a train-spotterish nature, fq was recorded at Studio 8 in Berlin by Adam Asnan who you may know as one third of the excellent trio VA AA LR.