Philip Sulidae - Ramshead [Unfathomless - 2018]Ramshead offers up a selection of dense, slowly morphing, and often thickly weaved sound-art built around manipulated field recordings made in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales Australia. The release appears as the form of an Ltd CD( of 200 hand number copies)- on Unfathomless- it’s presented in a double sided color sleeve packaging- which features linear note card, slip sleeve, and outer clear plastic sleeve.
I guess the best way to describe what we have here is thick & constantly morphing organic noise making- which sees Mr. Sulidae creating very primal sonic stews of the sounds from within the park, and layering them up at points to very dense meshes of texture.
The album features four tracks- these run between five & twelve minutes apiece, and each suggests from its title that it’s utilizing the sounds of two different sites within the park, for example, the first track is entitled “Penderlea Gap, Drift Hill”. There’s no doubt about it the album often gives one the feeling of been totally engulfed by nature- as with each track we get dense weaves of wind sounds, water rushing, gravel crunch, insect buzz & hum, distant birdsong, sleep sounds, many other unidentifiable sounds, and the occasional electro texture
Normally with field recording sound-scaping, the sonic creator is trying to capture a pared back or eerier mood- but with most of Ramshead Sulidae is creating an all-engulfing, disorientating, and densely psychedelic feel. It’s certainly an interesting concept, which for me personally worked to mixed results.
You see at times it all becomes a bit too dense & muddled for its own good- and that’s coming from someone who’s a fan of walled noise!. So, as a result, it often feels like there's a fairly random overlaying of textures- which lack any real definition or separation. The other issue I have is that I can often clearly make-out electro glitches & manipulations going on, which personally took me out of the whole thing somewhat.
On the more positive side, I felt the last two tracks had more skill & control to them, with track three “Swampy Plain, Central Ramshead” bringing together an errierly dizzying mix of sleep bays & insect sounds. And the final track “Valley Floor, night & Frogs”- featuring an effective building mesh of nocturnal trickles, wind hovers, and croaks.
So, in conclusion, I certainly like the idea of morphing & shifting organic noise texturing created from field recordings- and when Sulidae focuses in on more what sounds he’s layering together Ramshead is at it’s most effective- it’s just a pity it takes him until the albums second half to really get into his stride. So this is certainly worth a look, if you like the concept/ idea of organic noise making- and who knows you may get more from the early tracks than I did.Roger Batty