Retained Lens Fragments

From Netherlands, latest item by Spruit unfolds from its elaborate card package to serve up a CD from its card cover with eyeball image treated with digital glitch. I think it’s called Open (NO LABEL) and arrives with a card insert printed with a text musing gently on “the overall overload of input” and the short attention span of the audience, both issues which have been troubling the culture for some time now.

Marc Spruit is one we heard from a fair bit around 2009-2010, and he was preoccupied with the problem of sensory overload even then; after which time it went a bit quiet, but we always had a soft spot for his rather difficult, atomised electronic work, produced perhaps by feeding various source materials through a very crabby mixing desk. On today’s item he’s concentrating on brevity as one way of getting good results; the longest track here is just over three mins, and most of them barely exceed the 90-second mark. If there’s been any progress technically since 2009-10 (when he still had a MySpace site), it’s that he now uses a laptop computer, which he uses to store his various electric and acoustic recordings, sliced and cut into tiny fragments, then glommed together into these very concise compositions. He calls them “dancing particles of sound”, a most apt metaphor for when these digital streams take wing like many mechanical mosquitoes. “By endlessly reworking the sounds, only the energy and essence remain” is his stated method, meaning that he hopes to convey some kind of core truth residing at the heart of his chosen sound-objects, when all the extraneous fat and blubber has been boiled away to vapour.

This may be true, but given the wholly abstract nature of the results, where absolutely nothing we hear is remotely identifiable as anything, it’s hard to adjudge the success of his experiments. However, there’s a lot of rigour and decisiveness in his pared-down, no-nonsense approach; you can imagine he’d make a very good factory foreman or building contractor, in another life, and not only would the trains run on time, the project would be completed ahead of schedule and well under budget. Besides the abstraction, the severe minimalism, the brevity, and the ultra-glitch surface of this record, what I also like is the abrupt way that each track finishes without warning, only to be succeeded by the next perplexing statement. One incomplete sentense after another; it almost borders on absurdity, but there’s structure and ideas in play here too, suggesting it’s possible to learn Spruit’s highly private language, or at least pick up a phrase or two from his lexicon. From 19th November 2020.

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