Aural Terrains

Thanos Chrysakis: laptop computer, synthesizer, radio, gongs; Wade Matthews: digital synthesis & field recordings; Javier Pedreira: guitar

If a writer’s trouble in depicting and/or sorting out music is considered an honor by the people who make it, Chrysakis, Matthews and Pedreira can be justified if they’re proud of what they produced with Garnet Skein. The six tracks are in fact chock full of branching paths and perpetually mutating impressions, mainly non-compliant with the general rules of formal harmoniousness. Psychic weariness and irritation await for those reluctant to dedicate quality time to this album, especially if the recipients need age-long silences and rarefied events in between to alleviate their existence.

There are, in truth, few handles to grip at. Unreassuring alarms, gunshots, noxious fumes and strident crescendos characterize parts of the most dramatic subdivisions. Snippets of voices speaking in foreign languages appear as an unsafe attempt to communicate, somewhat thwarted by randomized sequences of disorderly impediments. The placement of noisy/saturated outbursts next to cleaner – if always highly incisive – synthetic materials, spiced with the gravelly jangle of Pedreira’s prepared guitar, generates soundscapes whose essence is powerfully acousmatic. However, in these scarcely hospitable environments the textures frequently retain a “dirty hands” attribute which humanizes the most inedible chunks. The upset caused by unpredictably transformable acoustic matters is enhanced by stomach-gripping flights towards the black holes of a fundamental repercussion (the fourth and fifth movements representing the defining episodes in that regard). The use of shortwave radio connotes imaginary locations which we can only distantly conceptualize.

Circumscribing music at this level of complexness and difficulty of acquisition with low-budget phonetic imitations of its ostensible sonic characters represents a diminution of its worth. Try hard and learn the constitutional basics. Forget about the physical presence of the players. Think instead to what might have pushed them to express their creative urge with such cryptically unsmiling, occasionally convulsive miscellanies. Understanding is not a given, but perseverance is definitely rewarded.

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