Adam Asnan is perhaps best known for being part of VA AA LR, working alongside Louie Rice and Vasco Alves to produce probing and unpredictable takes on electroacoustic sound. The trio’s work takes in intensely detailed explorations with speaker cones and electrical kit (Ping Cone) through to large-scale site-specific installations, such as the gushing flares of Newhaven, created for the Fort Process festival, and Polis, in which sound art works were played through a car’s sound system as it cruised the streets of Porto. He has a growing solo discography, running at a tangent to the trio work and which is equally intriguing. Check out the recent REV Sets on Entr’acte, which is really quite banging in places, and his collab with Dale Cornish, Mounting, (Wasted Capital Since 2013) is recommended too. In solo mode, Asnan’s slightly more inclined to expansiveness than his VA AA LR buddies, relaxing enough to let collages of frequency buzz and powerline hum widen into a kind of pitted plane, even as the level of magnification is ratcheted up. A bit like those shots of a vinyl record’s single groove that resemble vast lunar canyons.
That said, Carriers, PA isn’t exactly a widescreen drone fantasia. Like REV Sets, the two pieces that make up the tape date from a while back (REV Sets is from 1995 – the Bandcamp for Carriers, PA notes only that the pieces were created ‘a number of years ago’.) The Carrier suite opens up ceaseless map of current, the various gradations of ebb and flow in its three pieces acting almost as a language – a grammar of energy, if you will. The low-end buzz of Parts I and III resembles the eternal throb and grumble of a pylon grid, harnessing addictive rhythmic pulses alongside the palpitations. Part I seems avowedly minimalist at first, its restrained vibrations resembling a migraine hooked up to a high-tension line. But it wheedles its way under your skin and, after a while, you can’t imagine it ever not being there, lurking in the shadows with an unspecified menace. Part III stays true to this blueprint but ups the ante, folding in some groovy phase and oscillations that leave a whole bunch of sonic scars and striations in their wake, adding detail to the onward push. In between them is the toxic shock of Part II, thrashing around with abandon, laying down an initial high-pitched squeal before switching into a death ray blast of phase, ready to fry any unsuspecting humans foolish enough to wander into its range.
There’s more sense of a organic consciousness at work in the PA trilogy, in which Asnan corrals what sounds like a shed-full of electric motors, handheld fans and other noise-generating kit into a subtle, whirring mix. This stuff is closer to conventional electroacoustic improvisation, I guess, but Asnan’s flair for arrangement means all those images of serious young men frowning as they flick switches on a tabletop full of gear while other serious young men stand around and watch it are mercifully absent. The sound comes in airy, shifting waves, spluttering whines cutting to blasts of dialup modem static and aircon huffs. PA I is positively lively, its constituent parts combining into a strikingly modernist collage, with a series of springy clicks proving effective at punctuating the track’s busy, intersecting planes. Asnan’s lightness of touch in this suite gives these three pieces a deceptive simplicity, although they’re anything but lazy. PA II is, well, pastoral in the way that its flapping motorised buzzes fade in and out of earshot, a symphony of tech-giant drones on a summer’s afternoon. The final part switches tack, percussive oscillations replaced by the woolly, gramophone scuffs and background hiss, as if the mind responsible for Pars I and II has drifted off in a heat dazed reverie, the locked groove static their only accompaniment for a new dream journey.