Bjarni Gunnarsson - Processes & Potentials [3Leaves - 2013]
The 3 Leaves imprint presents Processes & Potentials, a full-length CD-R by Icelandic composer/sound artist Bjarni Gunnarsson. Released in 2013, this offering is the outcome of Gunnarsson’s compositional preoccupations over the span of 3 years of his life.
First off, the packaging is quite nice for this release. The CD-R is housed in a gate-fold, card-stock sleeve. Once opened up, we’re greeted to 6 panels of artwork taken from Cédric Dupire’s book Génocide de Fourmis and a proper cover panel with the pertinent info. The photographs presented on each panel are dark, haunting forest scenes, which compliment the audio content well.
Processes & Potentials features 6 tracks running approximately 48 minutes. Despite being presumably an all electronic album, there’s an undefinable natural quality to the entire disc. Dense atmospheric backdrops engulf the pieces as crackling, crunchy electronics penetrate the foreground. Electronic pulsing, glowing hum, insectoid chirping, and ambient passages course throughout the album, while more abrasive elements crinkle and sizzle. There might be some field recording elements as well, but it’s hard to tell. He might just be tricking the listener’s ears. The “noise” elements aren’t really harsh at all, but cleanly presented and clearly delineated. To say this album is “crisp” seems quite fitting.
While this album is comprised 6 separate tracks, each piece feels quite dependant on the totality of the sonic tapestry presented. Truthfully, each piece sounds like a variations of one another, which might sound homogenous on the surface, but actually works in the context of the whole. The parts are great, but the sum is ever the better. Overall, it’s very thought out album and supremely composed. At times this album reminds me of living electronic jungle, full of digital wildlife, and other times it sound like something approaching Daniel Blinkhorn meets Eraserhead.
I was quite surprised by this release. I was drawn to the packaging, but ultimately enthralled by the music. Processes & Potentials is a perfect example that electronic based music need not sound cold and sterile, but can sound very much like a living organism.Hal Harmon