Rare Sleep Disorders

Split cassette sent to us by Edward Trethowan in Tampere Finland, where he runs the micro label Bivalve. Parasomnias (BIVALVE bvlv2) features Knowing on the A side, and Diurnal Burdens on the B side. Both musicians are said to create “lo fi musique concrète”, which is a handy way of describing their sincere efforts to produce unusual sounds and transformations using affordable, home-made, minimal methods.

Knowing is Jonathan Deasy of Cork (who sometimes records as Quiet Clapping and Noh). His ‘Autumn’ is a very beguiling piece of tape loop experimentation, where tape wobble and wrong speeds have been exploited to create a deliciously queasy sensation; it’s also got a pleasing structure that prevents it meandering down a rabbit warren of messy overload. Knowing comes close to summoning that elusive and highly subjective “autumnal magic” quality that has been sought by everyone from the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood to Kate Bush. Knowing also contributes ‘Ornament’, which seems to use the same methods – real instruments combined with field recordings – and dwells in the fuzzy undefined areas between the sounds, producing a dreamy half-familiar effect. Very pleasing.

On the B side we have Ross Scott-Buccleuch, recording as Diurnal Burdens. We never heard Ross’s music before, although we’ve got one cassette on the Steep Gloss label which he operates; he puts out music under his own name, his Diurnal Burdens alias, and as Liminal Haze, a duo with Craig Stewart Johnson. I get the feeling his three tracks here might be related – ‘Discarding’, ‘Succumbing’ and ‘Quadraturinizing’ are titles which seem to describe a process, except they’re being applied to a scientific phenomenon or experiment that’s so obscure as to make even the most fervent Alchemist admit defeat. Ross’s method is to combine synth noise, field recordings, tapes, and objects, which “granular processing”; his sound, on the surface, is far less approachable than Knowing, and there’s an undercurrent of mystical, close-lipped secrecy, which appeals to me mightily. You’ll be fortunate if he ever breaks his stance to allow a moment of melodic beauty to blossom, and even if this does happen, it’ll be like a rare tulip opening its leaves inside a glass jar, and the whole event is filmed on scratchy 8-mm film, heavily over-exposed. This is my way of suggesting the multiple layers of gauze and distorting lenses that come between us and the music of Diurnal Burdens; they are not necessarily indicators of alienation, rather that Ross has discovered something quite fragile and beautiful, and he wishes to protect it.

Excellent release, a fine example of delicate and barely-existing music from two enlightened souls; the cassette includes a collage artwork by Craig Stewart Johnson.