BRENT FARISS – Four Environments… Collapsing

Kendra Steiner

An outstanding album yet no more than 89 copies, for Kendra Steiner always publishes awfully limited runs. This one must be grabbed as soon as it’s spotted. Texan Fariss employed contrabass, sinewaves, field recordings, snippets of conversation and various metropolitan presences to devise four striking pieces that fit in diverse categories. I’ll leave you to ascertain which ones, thus preventing my words from resembling blatant propaganda.

The title track starts with bass sounds related – at least in this writer’s perception – to the acoustic construal of an inescapable decay. It then flows into a tense mantra where electronics, clusters of strings in the low-frequency area, looped splinters of speech and a general logic of distress lead the blissful prey through some of the best dynamic dronescaping heard in a while. “Three Spirit Recordings” also exploits percussion and what’s defined as “hidden voices” (recorded in allegedly ghostly locations). Unidentifiable noises initiate a gradual decline of rationality for a listener willing to dispose of aesthetical issues to merely enjoy unadulterated – and yet so encrusted – textural expositions. A section built on the seaming of (apparently) aircraft engines amidst local talk and assorted types of industrial clangours stands perhaps as the record’s highest moment, culminating in an exfoliation of harmonic connotation that left me flummoxed every time. “Witchcraft, Minutiae, And Other Rhythmic Consistencies” (for contrabass and “accompaniment”, whatever that means) ruptures an initial cautiousness with crunchy secretions, cold lumpiness causing additional doubts and misinterpretations. A comprehensive view of human psyche’s misery, facilitated by emissions whose spectral features contrast with the compactness of the sources that generated them, the whole wrapped by impressive subsonic throbs. “Palestine” ends the program with a massive contiguousness of crumbling, boiling and hissing materials with entrancing electronic patterns, barely changing acute pitches and extra doses of mechanical racket. The ears are ringing at the end.

Overall, the compositional frames are lucidly chosen and accurately filled. The fieldwork does not sound hackneyed for a second, no phoney reverbs in sight. Morsels of undeclared reality that – thanks to Fariss’ skill in organizing adjacent organisms – appear quite intimidating under an ostensible normality. A record reluctant in disclosing secrets, needing reiterated listens just to scratch its surface. At any rate, excellent.

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