Lawrence English & Werner Dafeldecker - Shadow Of The Monolith [Holotype Editions - 2014]
I’m reviewing a very simple promotional copy of this album, a plain cdr in a plain card wallet; on top of this, Lawrence English and Werner Dafeldecker are both new names to me - so it really is a “blind” review. The album has eight tracks, coming in at a pleasingly concise thirty-three minutes; essentially covering a wide range of sounds.
The territory here is broadly electroacoustic, though field recording takes a vital role too. Many of the tracks sound like they’ve been constructed out of processed field recordings. The first piece, “Fathom Flutter”, is a case in point - sounding very much like layers of processed fire sounds. Its a nice track, but suffers from a distinct similarity to Xenakis’ “Concret PH” - though its less rigorously transformed and structured. “Mapping Peaks” is another transformation, this time of (what sounds like) part of a train journey; the duo accentuating the rhythms of speed and machine, whilst also tweaking the blur of background audio. Both “Moro Mute” and “Rio Gallegos” feature water in their source material, though they are subjected to quite different treatments. The former is comprised of gurgle and flow, with some bird sounds too; some of which are stressed and strained by English and Dafeldecker, resulting in very crisp crackles that might appeal to an HNW ear. “Rio Gallegos”, on the other hand, sounds like submerged rocks clashing, surrounded by processed, twitchy static noise textures - its a much noisier, more oppressive affair. Away from these overt transformations of field recordings, we have “Intake”, which rigorously examines gong-like textures, resulting in some deep harmonic drones. These sounds are revisited in the last track, “Outtake”, which introduces a warbling tone into the textures; this tone threatens to rise into a “strong” sound, but never quite reaches that point. The remaining two, short tracks are rather more odd… The first of these, “Marambio”, takes us through a series of spaces via the footsteps of a walking human, tracked by opening and closing doors. The second, “Fall”, is just that - the sound of some unidentifiable falling objects. Both these last two tracks are really very “slight”, but, somehow, the album seems to hinge on these pieces. “Fall”, in particular, is possessed with such a mystery, that you end up ruminating on it for much longer than the other works.
This is an odd album. Its entirely possible that there is a conceptual or narrative thread - that I’m blissfully ignorant of - that “makes sense” of the release; but, as it stands, its a fair, colourful assortment of pieces: all “good”, but none earth-shattering. The two short pieces, ostensibly the least slaved over, remain my favourites on here; as I said above, “Fall” is great work of mysteryMartin P