Thursday, December 18, 2008

Croatan ensemble - Without

The final disk in this trilogy of Eh? releases is number 44 - Croatan Ensemble's Without. They are bill k and jason p on strings, laptop, electronics, mics, pedals, synths, pipe instruments and generators.This is another longer album (60+) compiled from various improvised sessions. The album is tripartite, and the structure reflects the music.

The world ending in a festival of light and Concentration camps open the disk. These are dense combinations of tones, loops, hissing, buzzing with hidden components that reminded me to some extent of Fripp&Eno in structure and the guitar in Concentration. The World is full bodied, assaultive and slowly changing, while Concentration moves through more changes, pulsing and shimmering guitar dropping to long tones before rebuilding. At this stage I was also reminded of Eno's comments about improvisation also being about knowing when not to play.
But then came the three parts of The ideology of control. Here there is a sparser production with more control of elements moving in and out. Domestication has a bit of a beat, pulsing, encroaching deep tones with some accentuations but more minimal, distant metal tones somewhat edgy. It flows straight into Normalisation with rhythmic tapping, scrapes, gentle guitar and an overall brooding mood. Slides into Surveillance, a slow burning buzzy building dark ambient finale.
Defacement ends the album, another shift, again more minimal - opening with insistent pulses, voices enter, building to a density similar to the opening tracks, and ending with a siren.
Over the length of the whole album there is a good balance between the dense static ambience and the more subtler varied material - which makes the full listening experience an exciting journey. I think that this has been a good year for Eh? as they develop a diverse and diverting roster: satisfyingly unpredictable.

No comments: