Or, a tale of two Phils. Philip Sulidae, a sound artist from Sydney, Australia, releases ‘Glass’ on Phil Maguire’s Verz label. Maguire, a sound artist from London, England, released ‘folamh, endless‘ on Sulidae’s Hemisphäreの空虚 label earlier this year. Both share a preference for low-intensity electroacoustic exploration, an affinity that is as close as their physical bases are distant. What symmetry, eh? If only Phil Julian were involved, somehow, it would be just perfect.
In fact, the third node in this network is Richard Sanderson, whose Linear Obsessional label has released works by Maguire (2016’s ‘this this’ ) and Sulidae (this year’s ‘Conurb’). And, coincidentally, it was through these releases that I first encountered these two. Thanks, Richard. I’ll buy you a pint next time I see you.
‘Glass’ makes perfect sense on Verz, but its thick, prickly textures would be a stand-out addition to any label’s roster. Based around recordings from air and ventilation intakes, Sulidae applies his usual meticulous processing to transform these humble sound sources into mysterious drifts of vibration. As always, there’s plenty going on, but in a low-key way. Claggy exhalations call out through viscous clouds. Abrasive scrapes and jittery clicks nibble at blankets of soft matter. The compositions often seem to exist in a transitional state, somewhere between a solid and a gas, their hazy shrouds exhibiting a tactile physicality that always just eludes our grasp.
‘Evening Ventilator Vision’ sets woodpecker chirrups against ruminative gurgles in a suite of object-oriented battle raps. Kettle whistles and whining huffs add further layers of texture. ‘Wheeled Personal Engine’ is a needling, aggressive beast, its opening salvo of percussive jolts setting up a hissing tantrum that jumps and boogies in Brownian motion. I’d mark its dance card for sure, although the low-voltage murmurs that run along its underside require galoshes (I usually rock brogues, natch) to avoid burned soles.
It’s a yes from me, basically. And if this kind of thing appeals, ‘Petrification and Strife’ on Hemisphäreの空虚 is also well worth your time. It is, if anything, even more claustrophobic than ‘Glass’, Sulidae rustling up broad nets of clucking wire-wool hubbub from various everyday stuff to swaddle your ears and brain. The result is a kind of enigmatic banal, a pavane of the ordinary reminding us that even the most familiar things can hold a strangeness within.