mercoledì 13 luglio 2011

Dion Workman / Mattin - "S3"

An eely one, to be sure. “S3” is a single piece, 41-minute collaboration that subtly plays with conventions of eai, presenting the listener with a steady-state approach that implies elements that never appear and offers unexpected ones in odd places in the structure. It begins with about 10 minutes of extremely quiet noise. Not only quiet but pitched at the sort of frequencies that are likely to be present in one’s listening room, that is if the computer, lights, heaters, etc. are active and functioning. Personally, my PC’s hum was often co-equal with much of this section, making for a very enjoyable little “dilemma” trying to figure out what, if anything, I was hearing from the disc. Oddly, at other times, I could pick out the joint low burbling and supersonic bat-squeaks with relative ease; maybe it depended which way my head was tilted. After this interval, the volume is upped a notch, “S3” emitting whispery rubbings and ethereal whistles, a somewhat more voluminous rumble beginning to emerge underneath. Just when you think you’ve gotten the arc of the piece down, expecting it to wax into a prolonged eruption, it up and slaps you with only a brief flare, descending back into a low, menacing throb. From this point, about the halfway mark, “S3” sputters and thrums in more erratic fashion, like a cast-aside firework with a dysfunctional fuse. It’s a little disquieting, a little tough (for me) to immediately grasp the structural logic but, at the same time, there’s a basic solidity that makes itself felt, providing just enough tug to tow the listener along. The volume only ever rises to medium levels; the onslaught I imagined coming never really arrives—another very nice non-event. About 30 minutes in, after a soft blast of unique static, the piece reverts to, more or less, the initial state, flickering on the edge of audible distinguishability. For myself, “S3” is the sort of work that, first time through, is very difficult to get my aural arms around but that, on successive listens, reveals more and more about its structure, allowing great appreciation for the placement of sound elements. (Among other things, it makes me want to hear a recording of the Workman/Julien Ottavi set from this last autumn’s ErstQuake fest, wondering if it would reveal more on re-listen). It still retains a kind of gaseous quality and that’s all to the good yet you can begin to detect glimmers of outlines, enough to provide a certain amount of…comfort. It’s a complex project and an excellent one.


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