Porta cassette (Porta #8)
Louie Rice, perhaps better known as one-third of shamanic wranglers VA AA LR, steps out on his own this time round for a beautifully presented tape on the Porta label. Admirers of VA AA LR’s more micro-level investigations will find much to love here, and while this outing does bear some similarities to the trio’s rustles and whirrs, Puxe sees Rice bringing a badass low-end rumble to proceedings.
The overarching sound of the three pieces on Side 1 is an almost subsonic throb, one that is sufficient to induce rattles and vibrations into the ageing We Need No Swords office hi-fi. It’s like being locked in a U-boat trapped under an iceberg in the Arctic Circle. Claustrophobic and airless, in case you wondered. Early on, there’s a strange repeating buzz, like an alarm, which transforms into a sustained whirring drone that shifts, disconcertingly, up and down in pitch. All the while a higher-pitched flutter yammers away in the background, like a huge moth. It is tense in the way that only a giant flying insect trying to escape from an enclosed space can be.
The latter half of Side 1 ups the pace somewhat, with a chuffing fuzz that evokes a kind of steampunk minimalism, a mechanised piston beat beamed through a malfunctioning radio that demands your attention. She cannae take it cap’n … she’s gonna blow….
On Side 2’s long first track, there’s an abrupt switch in mood. Things are little less feverish. In fact, they’re almost relaxed, nearly domestic in nature. A mechanical rumble fades in and out, kind of like hearing a prop-engine airplane inching across the sky on a summer’s day, or hearing your next-door neighbour mowing the lawn. Suburban noise.
It doesn’t last though. Things soon take a turn for the threatening, as rough-edged thrums and buzzes cut across each other, underpinned by bassy pulses and building slowly into a fractured industrial collage. Towards the end, the synth tones get all squidgy, before being blasted by a fart of radio gunk.
There’s more static on this side’s companion piece. An oscillating tone forms the basis of what would be a rather polite minimalist synth track, if it weren’t for all those buzzes and glitches that smear and warp its enigmatic texture. It feels like interference in my brain. Dark vibrations in my jawbone. Time to get those fillings checked.
Puxe is available here.