Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Bass, guitar, percussion and electronics are Fessendens tools and V1.1 is their first album (OE10, other electricities). Not sleeping, just resting opens the album with a pulsing drone and gradually adds a tapping, then a waving swirl that becomes more extensive and almost continuous and an occasional wah (that sounds like a cat). This rolls along and then gradually fades out. The layering and building of sounds occurs in each of the tracks, as does the combination (and difficulty in differentiating) electronica and the instruments.
Mid-swing combines a buzzing zimmer-zimmer with rapid tings and tangents percussive and beaty, then guitar notes and tones, chittering with a hint of feedback. Again, this enters an almost static minimalist exposition before fading away. As a change, Diode starts full on rather than building - percussion, electropulses, squelches, organ and guitar tones: with a hint of distortion. After looping for some time it metamorphoses into a more analog percussive hypnotic state less electronica although there are some crackles and deep tones. Perhaps in an unplanned homage to Pink Floyd A walk in the park opens with a frying like sound (Alan's breakfast) and a ticking, which is then echoed and develops tapping shimmers and whooshes after which it transforms into cymbals, scratcthing and humms that run to the end.
Two minutes of silence lead into the not very hidden final track Peak V/Z*sin where a watery sounds competes with a metallic echoing hollow rumble buzz, into which (or out of) high tones emerge. The slowly shifting stasis that you realise is now pulsing, and finally crackles into oblivion is typical of this album - minimal ambient electronic with a hint of industrial - not easy listening but a satisfying angularity. The music is mysterious and raises questions like what is making it, where it is going, and when did that change sneak in. With tracks between 5 and 10 minutes long Fessenden don't overstretch their pieces and leave you wondering where it could have gone next. An interesting album which is their studio debut.
The band is known as a live improv group - such as Preview on Stasisfield which was recorded direct to disk. There the acoustic instruments are more obvious and the looping/layering is more subdued, as is the sound in many places - in fact they reminded me a bit of The Necks. An interesting comparison, but you can see the linkages and the areas the studio has accentuated.