Thursday, 26 September 2019

SRVTR - Bombs.

Album: Bombs
Artist: SRVTR
Label: Kalamine Records
Catalogue no: N/A

     1.      Elvissa
     2.      El Raval
     3.      Son Sardina
     4.      VC2

There are quite a few labels whose output I look forward to, and Kalamine Records is one of them. This little netlabel from Bordeaux (I am still hoping that the proprietor of Kalamine, Zumaia, will one day send me some fine examples of that region’s sublime red wines… *wink wink*) continues to upload some quality noise ambient and dark ambient works that deserve broader exposure. This latest release from SRVTR is no exception, and more than that it represents exceptional value for money in that there’s 65 minutes of exploratory sounds on here for whatever you wish to pay for it. I really do believe that at some point that the label will evolve into an entity that’s even better and an essential reference point for the best in such music.

‘Elvissa’, this album’s 30 minute opening track, is pure noise ambient/electronic/rhythmic industrial, starting out as nothing more than an oscillating and twisting belching over which the sound of a jet engine wafts in to gradually overwhelm it, but then, as the track goes on, it slowly evolves into a mammoth mechanical rhythm that sends it into overdrive. I have no shame in admitting I was grooving to it in a shameless industrial-stylee, my head involuntarily nodding along with it. The change is so subtle it’s there before you’re even aware of it, the noise blast lulling you into a false sense of security. It’s almost as if the requisite elements physically coalesced under their own gravity from the particles of noise, and after achieving the necessary density, sparked into rhythmic life. Wonderful stuff.

How do you follow that up? In SRVTR’s case by giving us another lengthy track of stuttering, shimmering, clangourous noise that pans from side to side, and sounds for all the world like a massive electronic device about to disintegrate, and as it progresses it appears to be on the verge of exploding, the timer counting down. ‘Son Sardina’ (which Google translated as ‘They are Sardine’) is the shortest track on the album, being only 5 minutes long, but nevertheless manages to pack a lot in. It’s a dense conglomeration of drones packed closely together, almost airless and with no spaces in between the layers.

And then, for the twenty minutes following on from that, we get the final track, ‘VC2’. A rattling howling sound, just like the sound you’d get from rolling metallic granules in a tube, is our introduction to the track, while a whine floats deep in the mix and somehow elevates it above the norm for a noise track. To be fair though this is noise ambient, a grade of noise that eschews blasts of pure grind and static in favour of subtle layers of complementary sounds (in this case at least) that end up making colourful tapestries with nuanced gradations of tone and frequencies. I found it to be a joyous noise, because it carries with it an exuberance and abandon that’s marvellous to hear. At roughly the halfway point it abandons its earthbound bass heaviness and takes off into the atmosphere, a jet-propelled airplane of the future, sailing amongst the clouds. Up here where the air is clear the world below looks small and insignificant, and the works of man are merely blotches and stains on the land below. Up here is where real freedom is to be found.

Whatever criteria Kalamine Records follow in choosing what to release, it’s obvious that the bar has been set very high. So far, at least the ones I have had a chance to assess, they’ve been thoughtful and exhilarating, creating complex virtual worlds exquisite in their detail, bringing colour and nuance, and provoking thoughts about our own relationships with the world around us. Many of the releases bridge the gap between avant-garde, experimental minimalism, and the best of dark ambient sound sculptures. Bombs is another of this breed, taking raw materials that in lesser hands would perhaps wind up as carbon copies of what’s been done a thousand times before, but instead twisting the threads and fibres into an artefact that rises above the morass. Furthermore, it isn’t afraid of mixing in elements from across the genre spectrum to adorn the pieces with. There’s a lot going on within the confines of these four pieces, each one having a unique and expressive voice, moulding and shaping our responses to each individual composition. And, in my book, that’s all you can ask of music.

Another quality release from Bordeaux, available from the Kalamine Records Bandcamp page as a download and stream:

Psymon Marshall 2019

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