Saturday, November 23

New Ear Review

Just Outside
An obscure, hermetic release, this. Two discs, some 130 minutes with two version of something called "Vurnmmkied" (google returns only hits related to his recording) and a thirty-minute track called "3753", with the following commentary on the label site: "Then I got nothing to say about "Vice Versa", because whatever it is, it can be vice versa; And "New Ear" is for ears." Does "Vice Versa" = Vurnmmkied? No idea. There is an ear on the back cover.

The first disc is largely given over to a very rough static sound, more broken electronics than static as such, I think, though on occasion you can just make out what seems to be snatches of field recordings and light metallic jangling. Once in a while the sound completely drops from one or another speaker. Upping the volume increases the level of interest; my visual analogy became peering through a Brillo pad with a high-powered microscope. About 25 minutes in, it enters a looped phase, a dull, thin clang marking each iteration, fuzz gradually becoming more predominant. At times, you almost get an effect similar to early Riley or Reich tape experiments. It does on a long time though, a really long time. I'm not sure if there's actual change or if one's brain begins picking out different sounds and patterns--I think the change is there, you simply have to make the investment in concentration. Moving one's head (ears) also matters. I admit almost dying when, in the last 15 or so seconds, one speaker leaps to sudden, extremely loud, life. After all is said and done, I was glad to have heard the work--it's a tough go but worth it.

Despite the similarity of title, "Vurnmmkied II" is a different beast altogether, beginning with wavering, midrange sines and progressing to subtle, quiet vibrating patterns, almost sounding like slowed down insect life, but just as likely to be motors of some sort. The sines take off into the ether, leaving behind the faintest of taps, only to plummet back in more complex weaves, deeper and smoother, with a Radigue-ish aspect. This, in turn, fractures into ever more brief buzzes soon offset by bell-like tones, the buzzes looping into a static, simple pattern. As before, this is more or less maintained for a good while, in this case about ten minutes out of thirty. Perhaps more difficult to even possibly get into than Disc One but still strangely attractive, decidedly at variance with much you're likely to encounter elsewhere. Another drastic shift occurs in "3753", all woolly, amorphous electronics, like billows of soft e-bow feedback, finding a low branch and just languishing there. Easily the most approachable of the tracks, it may also be the least satisfying as, while pleasant, it doesn't quite provide the gristle of the first two, feeling more like a sweet proffered as a reward.
- Brian Olewnick -

Corn, Ready-made Object, 2014.