JAAP BLONK / SANDY EWEN / DAMON SMITH / CHRIS COGBURN – North Of Blanco

Balance Point Acoustics

Jaap Blonk: voice, electronics; Sandy Ewen: guitar, objects; Damon Smith: prepared double bass; Chris Cogburn: percussion

Another gathering of stringently non-tonal, grit-textured, occasionally whispered, ever-trustworthy improvisations by Balance Point Acoustics, whose level of “wink-to-the-audience-while-pretending-to-research” has stably remained on the “zero = no bullshit” mark for years now.

Jaap Blonk has stripped the voluble blathering of the average humanoid to a deviant pharyngeal palette of gurgles, coughs, ill-tempered swines, gruff horses, (virtually) eBowed ugly ducklings and sexless hysterics. He’s still in possession of a glorious “regular” timbre whenever he resolves to use it; the man could declaim the Divine Comedy no problem, and it would surely sound more blasphemous than the original. In this set he is surrounded by an efficient unit of proven provocateurs capable of infringing the codes of foppish coalition.

Ewen, Smith and Cogburn support the needs of a self-nourishing collective entity. Each adds contributions to trigger disconcerting undertides, their sounds revealing grains and particles as if sliced open. The constitutional elements commix by nature, which helps in acquiring contents of uncertainty and, why not, danger with a wry grimace on our lips. The sonorities deriving from unstable objects, prolonged excoriations and lowercase plink-and-zing suggest a visual modality where awkward creatures meet in the damp corridors of a forlorn metal factory to organize an all-acoustic rave interspersed with ruminations about the grim fate they share. Leftovers of pitches and micro-patterns materialize from the improper conduct of instrumentalists seemingly inclined towards a dynamical occlusion. When keeping the secret becomes unfeasible, the intensity swells out of necessity: the music’s abnormal pulse and its innumerable excrescences throw a conclusive punch to the solar plexus of low-budget sentimentalism. In “Winner Kult Song” and, at various junctures, “Brewing Tools” the quartet even retrieves the corpse of reductionism from the dump, reviving it with sensible strokes of resonance.

Sometimes, the synthesis of “disheveled” and “inharmonic” translates as “healthy”. Armed with albums like this, we can wait for Armageddon without fright. Decoding the remnants of erstwhile human cognition will be a less complex task for the survivors.

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