Cezary Gapik - Contrast I [White Box Recordings - 2010]
Two long tracks here, which uncompromisingly explore electronic soundscapes; albeit very different ones.
Side A, “#0473 [Tremor]”, is a strong, nearly unrelenting drone. This stark piece stretches out for over twenty minutes, and although the heavier and harsher elements fade out largely by the halfway mark, the sounds remain on the whole distressed and uncomfortable. There’s a definite predominance of clean, “digital” electronic sounds - though these are often distorted and picked apart. The initial drone builds to a quite monolithic surge, with massive bass undercurrents and a thick, solid wall that threatens to erupt into noise. Despite the somewhat flat nature of the first half of “#0473 [Tremor]”, there are carefully rationed out high-end details, which serve to unsettle by their incongruousness. The initial heaviness gradually and gracefully makes way for more airy sounds to dominate; maintaining its largeness but opening the general sense of space. Its the sound of forgotten machines buzzing and hissing. As the last five minutes approach, things take a darker turn, and the feel of the heavier drone returns in an eerier light; it’s possibly the sound of those forgotten machines being rediscovered… As a rule, I don’t often get on with the kind of “digital” sounds Gapik uses here (in the context of this area of music, anyway); but he deploys them with thought, care and restraint. Throughout the track, there’s little, barely discernable tonal shifts, which spiral the ear into dread and unease; just one example of the attention to detail and construction.
Side B, “#0458 [Drowsiness]”, is very aptly titled. Woozy tones open the piece, and straight away the listener is put into a very blurry, slurred world. Its a track with plenty of detail - there are small, ascending, electronic whirrs, like tiny motors speeding up and down; as well as glitchy little crackles that sound like vinyl surface noise - but the dominant sound is of loping clouds of feedback tones; again with slight micro-tonal shifts that conspire towards murky dissonance. There’s a nice perspective to the overall sound, with elements of different sizes and placing in the stereo field. After becoming increasingly agitated - whilst remaining blurry and slurred - the track, like “#0473 [Tremor]”, tapers in the last few minutes; paring down its building blocks and toying with them as it does so. Its a very nice piece. It very successfully suffocates the speakers - actually, it occurs to me that a very simple description of “#0458 [Drowsiness]” would be just to say that its fifteen minutes of someone exploring a very deep seabed. There’s that sense of slowed and clouded motion.Martin P