When it comes to gnomic weirdness, LA tape label Dinzu Artefacts sets the bar high. Their releases, straddling sound-art, tape manipulation, field recordings and improvisation, are often planet-bafflingly opaque, even by the impassive standards of the chosen fields in which their creators work. Yet it rarely takes more than a few short minutes for a Dinzu tape to start working its magic, even if you can’t quite tell what it’s doing or even how it’s doing it.
This latest batch maintains those impressive levels of deadpan alienation across three brilliant releases. The physicals went in less than a week, mind, so if you’re into this stuff you’ll need to grip the digitals without any further ado. This is art, pure and simple. Don’t sleep.
Dominique Vaccaro: Close Distances
These tape loop works from Italian sound artist Dominique Vaccaro have the incorporeal, fuzzy feel of ghost messages from recently discovered wax cylinders. Electro chirrups and muffled growls erupt from hazy clouds. Pointilist showers morph into breathy clockwork grooves. Vaccaro avoids creating overarching narratives for these pieces, giving each of his improvisations the space to float free from any heavy editorial intervention. The subtlety with which these sonic entities are crafted and the simple, respectful way in which they’re arranged brings to mind the work of Guiseppe Ielasi, although Vaccaro allows a little more of the material world to intrude into his grainy miniatures. The result is a compelling play of sound and texture, enabling us to marvel at the subtlety and depth packed into such brief duration.
Ludwig Berger & Veronika Ehrensperger: The Capacity Of Things To Act
Ludwig Berger and Veronika Ehrensperger create massive sonic events that are played out at the micro-scale. Using only prepared harp, a cardioid mic and a couple of other bits of kit, the duo make disruption their focus, creating tiny networks of scrunchy white noise, tactile prickles and choppy, wiry tangles. There is zero interest in either harmony or unity, their products of their explorations either vibrating in splendid isolation – the punchy, drumlike thumps of ‘We Are Walking Talking Minerals’ – or jostling against up each other like electrical bacteria in a supercharged soup (the spring and chatter of ‘Excitation II’). Human agency is masked, hidden. Berger and Ehrensperger’s guiding hands are everywhere and nowhere, controlling these pieces while denying any higher organisation. Instead we’re invited to enjoy these jagged bursts as self-contained organisms, and to revel in their chaotic dance.
Weston Olencki & Max Murray: Gram
‘Gram’ explores the distinct properties of air pushed through confined space, via human (breath expelled through tuba and euphonium) or mechanical (bellows) means. The sibilant whooshes and hollow, gassy hisses combine the deep focus of reductionist improv (think John Butcher at his sparsest) with the eeriness of Coppice’s mechanical investigations. These exhalations are wondrously vaporous things, streaming out in gassy, overlapping wafts, like some beatific guru practising breathing exercises in a cruiser liner’s boiler room. Changes in pitch and pressure create turbulent interludes in ‘Of Porcelain’, although they rarely its ruffle its tranquil surfaces. In ‘Bellow’, things get more lairy, a series of high-pressure rushes switching the mood from meditative calm to steamed-up tension. But what makes ‘Gram’ zing more than anything else are the moments when Olencki and Murray reveal themselves, those spittle gurgles and exhausted rattles that let slip the effort and concentration required to create these understated torrents.