Fractal Meat cuts cassette and digital
Rebecca Lee’s Bredbeddle creates glacial plunderphonics for the no-audience underground. In her absurdist soundscapes, hypnotic locked grooves – fragments of laughing audiences, wheezing string quartets, liturgical voices and other sonic debris – drive deep drone immersion. Imagine a narcoleptic DJ Shadow cutting soundtracks for a slow-motion apocalypse, or a low-power junkyard rave-up in the twilight of the world. But where conventional plunderphonic or turntablist wisdom would crash out a succession of fast-paced edits to build a surrealistic kaleidoscope of fragments, Lee is more sparing. She uses a smaller number of sampled sources, with her stuttering loops occasionally providing a faltering rhythmic chassis for wider explorations – simple flute improvisations, gleaming extended tones, muted electronic farts – or sometimes just left alone to clank along in their disjointed charm.
Lee deploys her samples almost cackhandedly, often so roughly edited to seem like she is physically wrenching her sounds from the records in brutal needle drops. Often, as on ‘Thumb’, these audio defacements are a key part of the mesmerizing appeal. With every repetition, the panoply of clicks and pops that mark her sample’s extraction reveal themselves to be as subtle as a carefully constructed percussion track, providing the perfect counterpoint to Lee’s mournful flute melodies. The earlier ‘Keep The Salt’ sees the same technique achieving a trippier effect, gradually transforming the piece from a Pythonesque slice of jolly musique concrete (imagine the Terry Gilliam animation accompanying those opening few minutes of chuckle and whine) into an endless rabbit hole that we’re slowly falling down.
The closing ‘Feely’ is even better. An off-centre drum loop stumbles underneath a lairy organ arpeggio, as an unsettling vocal sample replays what must be the least convincing attempt at laughter ever recorded. Fears that we’ve been locked in Arkham Asylum with a particularly vengeful crew of arch-villains are soon banished, however, as Lee goes to work on a Tanita Tikaram record, trashing the maximum chill-out with some perfunctory cutting and slicing that is less Jam Master Jay than cat-just-jumped-on-my-turntable. It is, nevertheless, perfectly in keeping with the track’s scruffy allure and , like the sudden emergence of the sun from behind the clouds in winter, provides a perfect moment of cosiness in a chilly setting. Warm your bones, it’s cold out here.
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