Joda Clément: I hope you like the universe

Notice Recordings cassette and download

One of a brace of recent releases from the always interesting Notice Recordings, this is deep and evocative stuff from Vancouver’s Joda Clément. Two long tracks mix synths with field recordings from various parts of Canada, harmonium drones and electromagnetic feedback.

These are vivid, atmospheric and unsettling pieces. In Part 1, slowly phasing drones provide a shifting bed for metallic clanks and a machine-like hubbub. The textures are intricate but somehow weightless, without the density you’d expect from a combination of sound sources like this. It feels almost cinematic, like a camera eye slowly panning over one of Edward Burtynsky’s manufactured landscapes, a factory producing consumer electronics, perhaps, or a container port.

Towards the end the hubbub gets more pronounced, the atmosphere less oppressive, with shouts and bangs combined with the sounds of wind and sea and a mournful song transmitted over a tannoy. It’s here that the field recordings become less like signifiers of pure atmosphere and more akin to the sounds of humanity, although the nature of their activity, and indeed their identity, remains enigmatic.

Part 2 is heavier, shrouded in the ear-filling sounds of traffic and the wind. The electronics are more understated here and there’s a smoggy, nocturnal feel to it, almost like gazing down up upon the lights of an unknown city from a great height.

Occasionally synths poke through the amniotic haze, with soft edged moans, whale songs almost. Anyone who has heard any of Clement’s previous releases – I’m thinking of 2011’s The Narrows in particular – will recognise the precision and care that is brought to bear on his source material to create works that are seem so full of meaning yet so apparently weightless and inscrutable.

The final section of this piece is grittier, sounds becoming more pronounced. It’s the daylight world gradually encroaching, after a long night. The first hit of caffeine, bitter on the tongue. Traces of dreams receding in the shower.





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