Short Circuits 24 - By Volume

What is this life, why do we strive? Fast on a wheel, too fast to feel. One day, my love, this life will slow. Sam Brookes - One Day
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Short Circuits

#24

Tayyab surveys Holly Herndon, Arca and the found sounds of Rick Ross. You heard us.

Author: on September 25, 2014
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Arca – Thievery (Mute, 2014)

Having blown minds left, right and centre (okay, mainly left-of-centre) these past few years, most recently with FKA twigs collaborations, Yeezus credits and his own &&&&& mixtape, Arca now brings the focus to his own forthcoming album, Xen. A project borne of Alejandro Ghersi’s initiative, Arca can be regularly found at the cutting edge of underground bass-pop alongside his visual accomplice Jesse Kanda, and leading the charge for the new record is “Thievery”: An exercise of Ghersi’s ability to wring as many different harmonies as possible out of particular sonic motifs. There’s the rubberised crystal textures of the synth progressions bouncing off of the layers’ walls, a steady piano-stab metronome, obfuscated vocal samples and tactical pauses aplenty. It’s one of the smoothest bypasses down to experimental around – play it loud, put your foot down and watch the gears change as Arca does the rest.

LAFIDKI – Absynthax (Orange Milk, 2012)

LAFIDKI is a solo project of Saphy Vong, described as a French musician with a Cambodian background. His album Absynthax hovers beneath the umbrella of experimental electronic, finding plenty of space to dither between noise, ambient, math and art rock. It’s colourful and sparkly, with all the charm of Gambeoy sounds and none of the nostalgia or chiptune juvenility. The fine balance that makes Vong’s concoctions so dazzling is largely down to his use of percussion to ground the many layers of arpeggios; “Astral O’s” driven beat has the finesse to coax listeners into the record before the Dustin Wong-featuring “Vong Wong” rushes in with the hand drums. Album closer “From Abyss to Constellation Pisces” essentially feels like a concise, leftfield techno odyssey, shoegazing in the middle of the dancefloor. Absynthax is a delightful, upbeat and poppy strain of maximalism that’s very hard to resist.

Holly Herndon – Home (RVNG Intl., 2014)

It feels like only yesterday that I was telling you all how “Chorus” had me losing my shit completely. I still haven’t got it together yet either, and Holly Herndon has only gone and struck gold once more. Herndon’s greatest achievement with “Home” is how she weaves together such a cohesive piece from what at first seems like ridiculously different ends of the musical spectrum – with “Home”, she proves they may not be as far apart as we might think. Different manifestations of her voice surface simultaneously throughout the track, pop falsettos, pitched segments and warbling transitions, enshrouded by her choral chants. Just to add to the collage of many textures, footsteps and breathing, faltering bass and miscellaneous percussion bits fill out the song, panned all over as tumbling beats scurry between the ears unapologetically. There’s so much to pay attention to and find in “Home”, so much to appreciate as Herndon explores the symbiotic relationship between pop and experimental and the way they are two sides of the same coin. It’s one thing making that bridge between the two tangible, but it’s another thinking making it so welcoming for listeners to traverse.

Rick Ross – Christ of St John of the Cross (Number4Door, 2014)

There is a misleading amount of scrobbles for Rick Ross on my Last.fm page thanks to “Sanctified” and Rick Ross, an alias of Glasgow-based artist Kay Logan (also of Herbert Powell). If experimental tapes of found sounds and light-hearted manipulations are up your street, her music is for you. Christ of St John of the Cross parades its transitions, with pitched-down rhythmic vocals clamouring against decayed and stretched instrumentation on “Smash My Ceramic Head”, followed by the lo-fi delicateness of “Fountain of Conservative Youth”. Often woozy and occasionally lathered in reverb, Logan paints a picture that avoids any static nature – the tape seems to hold its own stories, pacing intrigue and ominous whirs with obfuscated textures that form an inseparable mesh. It’s rare that something so tonally dark can betray compositions as amusing and good-humoured and spirited as Christ of St John of the Cross.

Kepla – Selfplex (unreleased, 2014)

What attracts me to “Selfplex” so much is the way it gets lost within itself. Dragging itself (and our ears) through chambers of low rumbles and sweeping axes of tortured chimes, the track seems to deviate directionally at every opportunity whilst retaining mood and motifs. Sometimes it’s the aquatic bubbles propelling the other layers, other times it could be the restrained drum pads’ attempts to settle into groove that demand all the attention. Jon Davies balances the juggling act well on “Selfplex”, with textures falling somewhere between familiar dub techno and experimental electronic. Imbuing music with enough character to make it seem tangible isn’t easy, nor is making it seem unforced; “Selfplex” gets it just right.

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