(Cathnor)

“The large glass” was recorded in the summer of 2006 at Graham Halliwell’s home studio in Norfolk’s countryside; it is subdivided into three tracks. “The essence of things” starts with tremulant sonic dirt becoming a steady shortwave waterfall, exalted by fluctuations in the intensity level and a series of overacute impulses that put the head in a frequency-alimented cerebral garotte. A phenomenic similarity with Keith Rowe’s most recent explorations lingers, but is soon forgotten when – about six minutes into the piece – background rumble and controlled feedback sculpt and carve strangely familiar shapes of nervous, non-docile deep vibration. What sounds like radiophonic interference remains a constant presence, while the superimposition of “very low” and “very high” in the mix generate a multi-octave static texture that is panned on the extreme left and right at first, then it all morphs into an impressive surrounding pulse, like a giant pacing an overhead room. Calm is restored after a while, but it’s that kind of hush that anticipates an environmental disaster. Additional electronic undulations lull our willpower until the process is completed; eyeballs rotate slowly, while feedback and electrostatic popcorn make sure that everything’s alright. “In mezzo, nel mezzo” (a rough translation from Italian would be “Halfway, in between”) begins with elongated bleeping signals that pierce our membranes, almost instantly flowing into a caressing texture whose dissonant complexion is deemed more than acceptable by the brain, which soon after is tested by a multi-directional attack of penetrating oscillation pushing back and forth with the same attitude of an alien emitting killing noises in the wrong belief that humans possess the same level of knowledge and resistance. Slow unfolding, gradual modification, apparent paralysis; it feels like being on a highway’s emergency lane at 3:00 AM, looking at the night lights while waiting for a tow truck that won’t arrive: no certainty of returning home, and it’s probably better that way. Sure enough, everything fades out at that very moment. “Coarse ashes” opens with murmuring glissando – totally stunning, the most beautiful spot of the whole disc. I suspect that treated guitar sounds are being used here but my idea becomes irrelevant in a matter of seconds, as the resonating mass assumes the command of each and every move of the psyche. A million voices become a single moan, the throb becomes unstable and irregular. It all amounts to a corpulent roar, reinforced by muscular feedback that squeezes any idea of rebellion out of the skull. What is perceived as processed Gregorian choirs leads to a more ethereal, esoteric section which ends this magnificent work in style.

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