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Abortion Focus Group - MW [2:00AM Tapes - 2010]

MW presents two 13 minute drones, one per side of the cassette, the format playing a strong part in adding a light crumbling texture and hiss to the minimal, monotonal proceedings.

Side one’s extending layers fade in very gradually, sounding like they may be originated on a bowed instrument playing a mid-range note with a second an octave higher regularly dissolving in and out to create the zenith of a cyclical rhythm. This cycle is never broken, but it does evolve by virtue of whatever process Gabriel Piller (owner of Canada’s noisy Knife in the Toaster label) has designed. It starts with a regular, deep breathing movement but imperceptibly evolves into a more complex, insistent pulsing that maintains its steady speed but seems busier due to a strengthening somewhere in the multiplying layers of the same tone, before returning to its original inhaling and exhaling – a palindrone no less. It could be the soundtrack to a journey into a Mandelbrot set as details emerge along the edges only to be re-experienced again and again the deeper you go.

Side two offers a sustained bass note, a persistent buzzing drone not dissimilar to the sound of a light aircraft engine during a flight with only minimal turbulence. Its simmering, asymmetrical details cast out overtones that collide at the edges, creating a subtle, haunting whistle that hovers while tape hiss describes a steady rainfall outside. Perhaps, like seeing faces in woodchip wallpaper, a sense of vocals and even a flute appears deep within the core towards the end, as the brain attempts to place the logic of perspective on the minimal data received, before all stops abruptly just before the tape runs out.

Equipped with patience and an open mind, Piller’s MW is a neat showcase of how curious details can be buried in otherwise monotonous processes. Although, in view of the analogies to zooming fractals and staring at wallpaper, he has mercifully kept these demonstrations brief enough for us to enjoy before ennui kicks in.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Russell Cuzner
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