Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reviewed on Smooth Assailing

Very nice review of Graduating from Clocks to Watches (Eureka Tapes Vol. II)

graduating from clocks to watches (eureka tapes vol. ii) c55
[2009, peasant magik]

visual / sound artist anthony mangicapra (currently residing in northern california) is the principal member of the aleister crowley / greek / egyptian mythology referencing hoor-paar-kraat. he also co-runs goat eater arts. over the course of this project's lifespan he's been known to bring additional members into his fold, and this release is no different, though his more frequent collaborators (brandon samdahl, richard vergez and duane hosein) are absent. he's joined instead by dr. vanessa sinclair (his lone accomplice on the first volume of the eureka tapes), and what i'm assuming is the malchiodi clan: apollonia, zoe and manny.

multiple layers of ambient waves open up the cassette's first track, lacking a cast shadow. they'll gently sway back and forth by themselves for a few minutes until the introduction of metallic clangs and chiming percussion. one layer of the background ambiance will slowly sweep through in loud vibrating hums as the focal noise seems to be someone diligently ripping every page out of the phone book (with amplification). it's definitely a unique sound and is rather jarring given the entrancing quality that is surrounding it. the later juxtaposition of short, shrill drones with the serenity of the (set-in) minimal soundscape is great.

habit and the smooth sailing of the psyche sounds like what happens when a bunch of people on psychedelics come across a pile of metal objects and decide to be a band. at least it's just psychedelics, or this could have been a nightmare... though it's not far removed from a bad trip. habit actually starts off pretty sparsely, but when five people are sparse all at once, you tend to lose some of that minimalism. i hear banging, plucking, ringing, metal droning, tolling, additional clanging... then later, the warbling of analog manipulations. basically, it's a cacophonous symphony. i'm appreciative of the repetitious ripple of droning that's providing a coherent anchor as all of the disjunct organic noise, and the manipulated noise, form an unholy union... otherwise, my head would throb from too much strange sounding shit all being piled on top of one another, but since that drone's there, i like habit just fine.

hoor-paar-kraat will mellow way out for departure of the icicle man. this has the feel of an interlude, but it's hard to call it as such when it's nearly eight minutes long. this is just drifting ambient synthesizer peppered with brief snippets of backwards manipulations and occasional distortion. it doesn't do very much, but it sounds soothing, and does serve as a transition from the claustrophobic nature of the previous track.

the manipulated vocal recordings of relics of the inheritance, which starts off side b, kind of creeps me right the hell out. i don't even know what the hell the guy's talking about, but his slowed down voice takes on this demented whine that fucking disturbs me. another thing that accentuates my unease is the tense combination of plucked strings played in conjunction with backwards, sped up manipulations of said strings. harrowing. good thing (for my sanity) it's only three minutes long.

graduating will continue its turbulent journey from relatively normal to frenetic and back again with the eight minutes of the broken windows of a fertile world. this is hands down the best of their not so crazy pieces. it opens with field recordings of running water and a main layer of great guitar melody (a touch on the bleak side, but whatever), which is complimented by a low acoustic drone. after the water runs dry, in come soft, vibrato howls in the background. those will soon change into grating screeches, like moving a desk with rubber stoppers on its legs across a (mile long) tiled floor... or, evil monkeys. i love how long it takes for each occurrence to eventually fade away.

the final track, the self is an onion-self begins with a distinctly dank mechanical atmosphere, which springs forth to my mind, being in the bowels of a huge ship. that will develop into a rad rhythmic pattern, aided by thunderous booms in the background. self soon briefly incorporates an odd noisier layer; a loud, vaguely digital, sputtering drone, which clears out for a new droning wave, seeming to emanate from some of the pounding in the dark recesses. that will then get broken down wonderfully into fractured segments which swoop into self's forefront. after those will pass, i can hear that pattern, in its unmodified form, lurking in the backdrop. shortly past the halfway point there will be a few calm minutes where nothing extraneous is happening to the track's layered central rhythm, though there will come one more passage of commotion, which flashes by, and then it's placid for the remainder.

graduating from clocks to watches is weird, to say the least. kind of creepy, too. it's also really fucking good. even at its oddest peaks, never did hoor-paar-kraat abandon a semblance of structure, either through rhythm or a general repetitive (and pleasing) melodic tone, which kept their work fairly grounded when it could've easily strayed into (deep) left field abstractness. it also helped that the weirdness never seemed forced, i couldn't pick up on an intentionally dark slant, but the chilling aura was certainly felt at times. not to mention that the sum of what they were doing appeared to have at least a modicum of original thought behind it, which is always great (when it works).

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