Two very different pieces make up this great release from earlier in the year, from field recording wrangler Will Montgomery.
The first combines two Manfred Werder scores into a shifting, tense slice of sound art. Recorded at a performance at Bristol’s fine Bang The Bore event, Montgomery layers field recordings, sputtering electronics and repeated vocal phrases into a suggestive and moody framework.
Montgomery’s use of the field recordings, in particular, is superb. The initial section, with birdsong and the occasional passing car swathed in wind, somehow contains within itself an incredible sense of tension, as if we’re teetering on the edge of some cataclysmic event. Gradually, the piece gets denser, with buzzing electronics and low-end throb nudging at our perceptions, like interference around the edge of the screen. A vocal phrase is repeated. It seems to be ‘ONNEE’ and its appearance seems almost occult, gaining the power to transport us onto a different plane with its multiple repetitions. By the time these pronouncements cease, without any warning or explicit reason, we realise that the backdrop has indeed shifted. A different field recording plays, of a café or shopping centre perhaps. We hear the rustle and rumble of humanity going about their business. Someone clatters around on high heels. There’s something happening here, but I don’t know what it is. Surrealist conspiracy thriller. Dream noir.
The second piece, Filtrate, sees Montgomery taking a scalpel to a recording by label boss Kostis Kilymis, reshaping it drastically into a stubborn, pared down glower of sine tones and bass thrums. Like rocks hanging in space, these elements refuse any kind of narrative interpretation, appearing and disappearing from view as they follow their strange orbit round a cold, dying star. The blocks of sound are sometimes overwhelming, arriving in a swirling rush of abstract sound, yet often they’re gone just as quickly, dissolving into air and leaving only a burning after-image on my scorched frontal lobes. I’m reminded of the slow fades and meditative spaces of The Necks’ Aether at times, although the burning, igneous clusters of this piece can only ever be the dark twin to the Australian trio’s glassy surfaces and quiet spaces.
In any case, less is definitely more here, and the gaping spaces left by Montgomery’s carve-up give us plenty of room to fill in the gaps with allusive meanderings or strange interstitial daydreams. To call it a collaboration, or dialogue, with Kilymis’ original piece doesn’t detract from its dark, gloomy power. Bloody marvellous.
Check out more of Manfred Werder’s scores on his website.