Date: September 2009
Cat & Format: Kesh012 | CD & DD
A follow-up to the Volume Objects 12K album release that arrived at the very beginning of the year, Autistici's Complex Tone Test continues to explore a broad spectrum of electroacoustic phenomena, derived from digital, instrumental and naturally occurring sounds. 'Key For A Lockable Cabinet' is an especially striking confluence of these elements, sounding like a study of intermingled woodwind, mellotron and environmental crackle while preserving the implicitly melodic qualities that illuminated the 12K long-player. Delving into more synthetic areas of sound design 'Meticule' takes pulsing oscillations and layers them into a Raster Noton-like network of more rigid glitch rhythms, setting the whole thing off into an escalating, motorised pattern that acquires a thudding back beat for a few moments. Following this unexpectedly robust sequence of events, 'Resonating Wire' brings us back to a delicate microsound universe, characterised by close-miced, atomised percussive gestures, gauzy beams of hiss and eventually, some rather lovely bowed strings. As the album continues it seems to alternate between strict experimentalism and more ornamental sound designs, striking up a smart balance between the head-flooding machinations of 'La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi' and the prettier, more decorative likes of 'Meadow Bed'. Two of the finest pieces arrive late on: Disintegrated Interest' is a relatively short dissection of instrumental sources, reminiscent of early academic tape music, while 'Annualized Light' is a delightful ear massage that incorporates thin, elastic synth textures continuously panning far-left to far-right while processed recordings of sneezes, speech and electronic tones fill the space in between.
Mastering: 12k Mastering
A follow-up to the Volume Objects 12K album release that arrived at the very beginning of the year, Autistici's Complex Tone Test continues to explore a broad spectrum of electroacoustic phenomena, derived from digital, instrumental and naturally occurring sounds. 'Key For A Lockable Cabinet' is an especially striking confluence of these elements, sounding like a study of intermingled woodwind, mellotron and environmental crackle while preserving the implicitly melodic qualities that illuminated the 12K long-player. Delving into more synthetic areas of sound design 'Meticule' takes pulsing oscillations and layers them into a Raster Noton-like network of more rigid glitch rhythms, setting the whole thing off into an escalating, motorised pattern that acquires a thudding backbeat for a few moments. Following this unexpectedly robust sequence of events, 'Resonating Wire' brings us back to a delicate microsound universe, characterised by close-miced, atomised percussive gstures, gauzy beams of hiss and eventually, some rather lovely bowed strings. As the album continues it seems to alternate between strict experimentalism and more ornamental sound designs, striking up a smart balance between the head-flooding machinations of 'La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi' and the prettier, more decorative likes of 'Meadow Bed'. Two of the finest pieces arrive late on: Disintegrated Interest' is a relatively short dissection of instrumental sources, reminiscent of early academic tape music, while 'Annualized Light' is a delightful ear massage that incorporates thin, elastic synth textures continuously panning far-left to far-right while processed recordings of sneezes, speech and electronic tones fill the space in between. Excellent.
Audiobulb head honcho David Newman provides us with another very compelling full length album, this time on Simon Scott’s superb Kesh imprint. It’s no secret that I loved his previous CD on 12k and it’s therefore fairly unsurprising I’m sure to discover that this is also a beautifully realised set of tracks as well. What I really like about Autistici is the variety that he manages to cram into not just the album as a whole, but even the tracks themselves. Combining electronics, found sounds, field recordings, organic instruments and some utterly awesome 3D stereo effects, you’ll discover an entire world of music here. From the gentle flute-led intro track and into the syncopated, almost techno-sounding ‘Meticule’ right through the evocative ‘Resonating Wire’ and beyond, there’s a fascinating sense of exploration and discovery at each and every turn.
This isn’t just a lovely album with a seemingly innate sense of melody that shines through, oh no, this is an experimental work of huge substance that constantly finds the comfortable and homely in some unlikely places. There are times where the sounds almost overwhelm, and yet it always holds back a little, allowing you some room to breathe and get accustomed to the atmospheres that evolve. From just plain gorgeous through to hallucinatory and tense, this really is a journey into sound that’s as exciting as it is relaxing. A paradox, then, in some ways, but considering the pedigree of the artist and label it should come as no surprise that this is an utterly exceptional album. A real experience and something that I’d urge you to check out and enjoy. Pure quality.
Autistici is the solo project of Sheffield-based David Newman, who also runs the excellent Audiobulb imprint. His first major release, Volume Objects, appeared on Taylor Deupree’s 12K last year, but, prior to this, Newman had released a handful of EPs on small labels, and his music had also been featured on a number of compilations. On his debut album, Newman crafted his soundscapes, built from both treated acoustic sound sources and purely electronic components, with delicate impressionist touches, weaving them into beautiful evocative pieces.
With Complex Tone Test, released on Cambridge-based Keshhhhhh Recordings, Newman manipulates electro-acoustic textures once again, weaving them into vast ethereal formations which often appear pretty static and monolithic, yet constantly morph and evolve, their course altered ever so slightly over their lifespan. This is very much the case with the more minimal pieces found here. The fluid drone structures of Refractory or Meadow Bed are extremely bare and gossamer, but are animated by a momentum deep within their respective sonic fabric which gives them a particular sheen, while the ampler La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi at times seems to echo in all sorts of directions at once.
This time round though, Newman pushes purely electronic components much more forward and deploys an arsenal of clicks and glitches to give tracks such as Meticule, Resonating Wire, Closing or Annualized Light (2.2) a totally different outline. The result is particularly impressive on Resonating Wire and Annualized Light (2.2), which, despite pretty desolate backdrops, are given strong relief with just a few additional noises, while the glitches heard toward the beginning of Meticule progressively gather into a fully-formed rhythmic pulse later on. Elsewhere, Newman brings richer patterns to his electro-acoustic formations.
The mellotron-fuelled Key For A Lockable Cabinet is a particularly vibrant and pastoral piece, while later, the more complex layering of real instruments and electronics on Disintegrated Interest pushes the record in a much more challenging direction for a moment.
Stepping in the limelight once again as Autistici, David Newman has created with Complex Tone Test, a record that takes the space defined by its predecessor and expands it greatly, without altering its very essence in the slightest. The result is particularly convincing, ensuring Autistici’s place amongst the more imaginative musicians of his generation.
An album by Autistici has crashed into my ears, released on CD by the Kesh label. I'm loving the haunting, atmosphere drenched opener, the melancholy keyboard conjuring up images of still horses in breezy late autumn fields. Are they sleeping? Are they depressed? Are they made from card? What kind of madness is this? Flickering, pulsing evocative electronica stuffed full of drifting, crackling wonder, wistful ambience, the occasional bit of off-kilter beatery & some alarmingly fresh processed samples (derived from a multitude of organic sources). The idea of this recording is, supposedly,that your conscious mind cannot take in all the different things happening in both ears simultaneously so it is a meant to be a more individualistic listen - each listener may select different parts of the music that they can concentrate on! To me it merely sounds like a very interesting progressive electronics collection that should appeal to both the experimental drone & ambient fraternity & appreciators of sound design bods such as Machinefabriek & Jasper TX. 'Complex Tone Test' is made of lovely stuff indeed!!!
Dilated and charming tonal sequences, micro-sonorities and patterns that gently intersect, ticks, acoustic and more synthetic structures arise in this new work by Autistici (David Newman), a sound-artist based in Sheffield, head-honcho of Audiobulb. Even if this record starts with very placid sequences, there's no risk of getting bored here. In "Complex Tone Test" we're in the middle of reverbs, soft organ elaborations, space orchestrations and textures, so the attention is always kept alive. The addition of audio-elements ("noise" generated by coffee machines, doors, sounds emitted from his own body), used in the composition in the form of minimal field recordings, better define the scope of the project, altogether marked by a very elaborate use of psycho-acoustics, soaked in subtle distortions, digital pulses, melodies and always transversal experiments. It doesn't matter which of the many sub-tests is more incisive, because it's the whole that keeps the inspiration "entropic", a measure of the disorder of sounds which will never be lost.
In 2008 the fine label 12K released an album by the, at that time, almost unknown musician Autistici. the début album, Volume Objects, really managed to grab my attention with the delicate combination of electro-acoustic and minimal music. Glitches and ambient tones were nicely mixed with environmental and acoustic sounds. Sometimes as soundscapes, other times as rhythmical excursions.
Now only one year later Autistici is back with a new release: Complex Tone Test. This time not on 12K, but on the British label Kesh. Complex Tone Test follows in the line of Volume Objects but uses a richer and denser sound palette. This gives it that small extra bite.
During the album the process of sound manipulation gradually goes from minimal reworking to a psycho-acoustic
development of sound. Each piece following its own trail. The later pieces on the album tend to be more misleading for the listener; not all the sounds are what you think you hear. Your focus changes during the music from sound to sound making it an extra listening experience. Though, for the last piece Autistici choose the settle down a bit again so you can sit back and relax again.
Because of the amazing development of sound during the whole album Complex Test Tone manages to surprise even
after several concentrated listening sessions. The music stays interesting to explore, though at some points it seems that the process is more important than the result. Nonetheless Autistici managed to deliver a good album...again.
Infinity. That’s what Complex Tone Test could be about: an almost tangible approximation to the endless cascades of attributes of time and space that hold us in place, together, preventing us from drifting away into solitude and becoming disconnected abstractions. Because, if we look to the horizon, it might seem never-ending, but it will eventually be interrupted by planes, birds, buildings, mountains, and the passing of time, making us aware of distances, volumes, lighting, and noises between which we can establish relations and control that strange cultural need to transcend via absolutes and totals. Autistici points out that strangeness with subtlety, in ways a lot less radical than those of John Cage, but which explore not only the possibilities of gazing into infinity in the present, in the world and in silence, but also in artifice, in art’s illusionary components of technology and craft, in how the mind transforms everything it perceives.
Therefore, the album is composed of a meticulous arrangement of found sounds, not only environmental and natural, but also user-generated and artificial; cello melodies and harmonies reminiscent of Gavin Bryars lead us through the beautiful experiment of “Resonating Wire,” situated among sounds of crickets, those insect sonic walls of seemingly infinite magnitude that fade in and out along time and space. The music all along Complex Tone Test functions in a very similar manner, de-centered by its own structure, emerging from the world like a nineteenth century sculpture, insisting on its artifice but at the same time provoking us to think that, perhaps, there is none.
In that sense, this is not frontal music; this is music to be submerged in, to let ourselves be overcome by, our ears expanding to consume the entirety of our bodies, now divided into channels, into left and right. When our attention activates and focuses, it will find an impressive variety of sounds upon which to place itself, from harmonica and mellotron to bird chirps and closing doors, diving deeper into a part while being perpetually changed by the whole, enforcing decisions. Dive into one sound and our consciousnesses will inevitably lose another. This is the world engaging us – the buildings and the planes interrupting our view, the modernist, cut-up cello chords and phrases of “Disintegrated Interest” that elude our attention and strain our ears to formulate a narrative that will barely start and never develop. It only takes a sneeze at the beginning of “Annualized Light” to bring it all crashing down and yank us back into ourselves.
In “Refractory,” a track created with an image-to-audio analysis of a rainbow, sine waves launch a relentless attack upon our senses, and as the artist lets them grow, develop, decay, and be reborn, we find ourselves in the Taylor Deupree territory of painting-photography full of ‘real-world’ abstraction and light, and flow not freely but decision-driven into infinity. It is a journey unlike those we routinely take to our jobs, schools, or homes; it is closer to a type of Buddhist meditation in which we live the here and now with our consciousness always active and attentive to every event (the small made into the great), ultimately modifying our perception of time and stretching it into forever, reworking our memory to create experiences, so it no longer reproduces only the ‘facts’ of our everyday lives.
This is experimental ambience at its best, combining the intellectual pursuits of sound artists with a superficial accessibility that will possibly make any listener reconsider his or her relationship with every variation of time and space they come in contact with, since they are, were, and will be infinite, not only as a narrative progression but in themselves (every thought, every smell, noise, music, sight, and so on transfiguring endless stasis into endless variability). Maybe you’ll even start experimenting yourself, creating situations, remembering voices, imagining the scientific sound of optical effects, discovering the ‘auras’ of each and every detail and deciding which ones you will keep as your journey flows back and forth.
Audiobulb head David Newman distances his Autistici sound from kindred electro-acoustic producers by catalysing his originating sounds into satisfying compositional wholes. On his second full-length (12k's Volume Objects the first), Newman again uses audio captures of natural and man-made materials as starting points, with tracks built from a diverse range of sound-generating materials including mellotron, cello, harmonica, and sine waves, as well as coffee machines, cutlery, doors, and the human body.
With no clarifying information provided as to what sources were used for a given track, the album can turn into a bit of a guessing game, with the listener wondering whether a particular sound in “Resonating Wire,” for example, did or did not derive from kitchen utensils. That might, of course, have been done on purpose, with Newman maybe wanting listeners to focus on the end result rather than be sidetracked by the minutiae of sound sources. Regardless, the familiar flute-like strains of the mellotron that inaugurate “Key For a Lockable Cabinet” immediately establish the recording's focus on acoustic sound sources. Dazzling, harp-like clusters swirl in perpetual motion at the beginning of the psychedelically-tinged “Meticule” before a jagged, tick-tock pattern and pounding bass drum take over. The aforementioned “Resonating Wire” uses sampled sounds to texturally enrich a slow-moving drone that becomes a backdrop for cello playing, after which the percussive clank of a door closing merges with glassy tones during the generally peaceful “Closing” (snoring sounds near its end drive the point home).
A comparison of three tracks reveals how just how diverse the album's material can be: the neon tones of “Refractory” apparently were generated by an audio-analysis of a rainbow; “Disintegrated Interest” could pass for an excerpt from a contemporary Russian composer's string quartet; and breathing noises and the evocative wheeze of harmonica bring a “human” dimension to the alien creaks and micro-biological burble that percolate throughout “Annualized Light.” As a title, Complex Tone Test might suggest a recording of dry and academic character; on the contrary, Newman's fifty-minute collection ranges widely over rich sonic and stylistic terrain. Though the album appears on Kesh Recordings (the label run by one-time Slowdive member Simon Scott), it has all the earmarks of a kranky release, and would sit comfortably alongside recent recordings by White Rainbow and Ethernet.
Lui è David Newman, titolare dell'etichetta Audiobulb Records e del progetto Autistici col quale ha già realizzato un album per 12k. Con "Complex Tone Test" declina l'approccio materico del precedente disco in modalità chirurgicamente digitale, diluendo avanzi di suoni quotidiani e residui elettro-acustici (violoncello, armonica, mellotron, onde sinusoidali) in disincarnati flussi di tono puro, algidi per scelta e inevitabilità ontologica. (6/7)