In 2013, Chicago duo Coppice (Noe Cuellar and Joseph Kramer) created Bypass, a performance for a modified boom box and prepared pump organ. Bypass Ideal takes this performance and undoes it, splitting its two core elements into a pair of separate sonic investigations. Previous Coppice work is thick and dynamic, with the sounds of various wind-making instruments such as bellows and shruti boxes layered into fast-paced surges of sound, with boom box loops cutting subtle sonic notches into the swathe. 2013’s Holes/Tract on Consumer Waste is a good, recommended example, as indeed is the original Bypass: check out this video for a taste. If Bypass Ideal lacks some of that viscous density, the duo’s focus on single a sound source for each piece nevertheless yields rich results.
As is usual with the Hideous Replica label, Bypass Ideal is minimal and impassive stuff, yet engaging too, with plenty of gritty range to keep you interested. Side A is the boom box track, slithering in with a serpentine, almost greasy hiss. I suspect from the slightly stuttering movement that it’s a tape loop of some sort (this would fit with the pair’s previous MO) and it spends the first section gradually degrading into a fizzing vapour of over excited particles. Perhaps this is what being inside a kettle feels like?
Apparently there’s no signal processing used in the making of these pieces, and so it’s intriguing to ruminate on whether the variations and degradations in the sound as the loops cycle through are because the loops themselves are playing out unreliably, or due to some boom box wrangling in real time by Cuella and Kramer themselves. It’s pretty cool to listen to in any case, especially around the halfway mark as the pitch increases to a kind of microbial fury before shifting, first into a bubbly liquid bloop and then a sparse, windy puff. Then, right at the end, there’s a strange, sine-like tone, as if the whole thing were being beamed back up to the mother ship. Yeah.
Side B’s prepared pump organ sounds are a tougher, more metronomic from the off, with a thudding, fan-like oscillations that aren’t a million miles away from the granular composition on the other side. Then everything changes, with an abrupt switch into a rusty, dissonant drone, unlike anything I’ve ever heard from a pump organ, more like a corroded fan belt on some rusty machine, groaning its way into oblivion.
Towards the end, we do get some actual pump-action sounds, although it’s not exactly Neil Young dragging us through funereal-paced renditions of his classic hits, thankfully. Instead these gassy whooshes bluster up out of the whirring backdrop in a hectic bluff, like some ancient general blathering up out of his chair in the depths of his private members club, moustache quivering and monocle hazing up with the effort, before sinking back into the warm embrace of sleep, his senile dreams of carnage a solitary comfort in the long twilight of his decline.