Michael Speers: Damped, Driven System


Wasted Capital since 2013 cassette 

Michael Speers continues to refine his craft on this excellent outing for Wasted Capital since 2013, adding a durational intensity to the dense, compacted masses of last year’s self-released 45 Kilograms of Body Weight.

The short pieces on that cassette were like the dark hearts of collapsed stars, Speers looping and and distorting his source material so much that they threatened to fold in on themselves and suck us all in with their mighty power. This new release is no less heavy, but Speers is stretching things along the horizontal as well as the vertical, with just two extended pieces that are the sonic equivalent of endless rivers of larva, their charred surfaces concealing a flow of incandescent liquid rock.

Less indebted to William Basinski’s beautiful decay, and with the loop-based material less in evidence (Speers describes these recordings as ‘using saturated tape recordings of sine tones, percussion and no-input feedback’) these new pieces smuggle hints of dark ambient melodrama and musique concrete junk into their coal-black interiors. This sonic shape-shifting expands Wasted Capital/Hideous Replica’s usually fairly austere electro-acoustic aesthetic, like a corroded glitter ball in the death disco.

Damped, at first anyway, exerts its gloomy power through gritted teeth. After a minute of sinister hisses, a single, echoing kick drum ushers in a malevolent thrum. Across this flows a machine-like flutter, strangely redolent of those ceiling fans in the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now, the metronomic gasps adding a claustrophobic intensity to the glowering backdrop. Things have got to give, and after about eight minutes of this building tension they do, with a crashing, creaking wave of noise washing over the drones. Brittle and glassy, it’s the sound of a tower crane collapsing onto a construction site in slow motion. Joyful destruction in extremis.

Driven explores even more dissonant textures, with harsh metallic scrapes spilling across the grey background smears. Speers is a drummer, and those uncomfortable metallic sounds could be bowed cymbals – they certainly have the same wince-inducing quality. Occasionally a high-pitched sine tone can be discerned, calling out across an icy emptiness with an almost monastic air.

Later on, Speers lets rip with a thudding tom-tom beat, Art Blakey-meets-Aaron Dilloway style. It gives this section a saucy rhythmic undulation, before all traces of humanity are purged, in a full-spectrum response of ferric noise and acid bath fuzz. It’s strangely refreshing, clearing the decks for a final section of gauzy hums that seem, well, almost limpid in comparison to what’s gone before.


Order it here.



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