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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Andy Ortmann - Pataphysical Electronics [Nihilist - 2018]

Pataphysical Electronics is a bulging crop of new sonic odd-ness from Andy Ortmann- Chicago’s finest purveyor of audio surrealisms & noisy unsettlement. The release features a fairly varied selection of Mr. Ortmann ’s distinct brand of sonic unwell-ness…going from quirky blends of surreal storytelling & off-kilter beats, through to queasy psycho ambient edged with field recordings. Onto playfully melted & dis-arrangement of orchestrated work, though to unsettling electro/ acoustic sound worlds. Onto to blends of musique concrete & old-school synth scaping, and beyond.

It comes in either the form of the three vinyl set, or a digital download- I’m reviewing the digital version of the release, but from the description & pictures I’ve seen of the physical set - it looks most impressive. With the three vinyl records coming in a wide spine gatefold sleeve- this features a selection of trippy artwork,  bizarre collages, and kit pics- the release comes in an edition of 300 copies.

In all the set takes in two hours worth of material, and it opens in fine form with the subtle growing oddness & un-hindgement of “She Who”. The nine & a half minute track brings together quirky/ fairly tuneful beat & synth elements and winding & snapping electro textures- all topped off with a ‘stranger by the minute’ selection of texts read out by a selection of modified & morphed male & female voices.

As we go on we get deeper & deeper into the album, the stranger things get. The first side of the second disc is taken up by the eighteen & a half minutes of  "Subliminal Shapeshifting Scenario"- here we move from unsettling textural maps of creaks, shoves & haunting wails. Onto a spaced-out selection of old computer printer noise, spinning, ticking, stream hazing & snapping tones. Before departing into a selection of wavering gong pitch drifts, and eerier percussive hits- sounding like the soundtrack for oriental-tinged opium dream. Then we sudden left turn into a swinging 60’s organ rock jam, before driving into a selection of marching typewriter rhythms, sudden creaks- that are all underfed by psycho ambient ebbs & drifts.

Side D’s “Eating a Dead Horse “ is an unbalancing near nine minutes weave & drift of forward & reverse retro synth tones, retro warbling electronics,  & amassed weird jabbing voices.  While the just shy of twelve minutes of side F’s "Extended Hammered String Environment VI"- drags you into a busy-yet-surreal macabre world of piano string picks & gothic key hits, winding & creaking textures, off-key almost jiving guitar string bangs, and machine noise winding ‘n’ swirling pile-ups.

The whole set ushers out in a surprisingly moody & eerier form with "The Gong Song"- this is a just over ten minute journey into slow & considered gong hints & their reverberations- all to creating a very darkly ritual feel, which summons up the feeling of walking through some vast & mist engulfed underground crypt- which is slowly coming to (un)dead life.


As a release Pataphysical Electronics aptly & at times jarringly moves from the bizarre, onto playful, through to the creepy, and back to the puzzling. It truly is a sonic journey in the best sense of the phase. Of course, fans of Mr. Ortmann's other work will snap this up, but if you enjoy the surreal & uneasy sonic waters of the likes of Nurse With Wound, irr. app. (ext.), Andrew Liles, or the Schimpfluch collective- this really is a no-brainer too.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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