Verhalten - Corrupted Structures v.2 [Modern Tapes - 2018]Corrupted Structures v.2 is Verhalten's sequel to the v.1 release of the same name that I reviewed here on this site a while back now. It was released by the label Modern Tapes alongside a new tape from Swedish HNW project Rien, The Grey Tape, in September this year. Both releases have sold really well, with only three copies listed as available of the new Verhalten on the bandcamp site.
This album came packaged similarly to the last in the series, in a brown kraft paper envelope with the artwork pasted on top, the cassette is a c60, with four tracks at two to a side, most coming in snugly under the 15 minute mark - only one coming just over. The label head and artist describes the album, and the series, saying; "Distorted rhythms are woven with crackling walls of noise and syncopated sine waves" - this matches well with my own experience of the first edition in this series.
Opening with 'backward from ten' we have a very glitchy beat that shuffles into a heaving, ebbing rhythm immediately out of a soft spray of chipping, glitching foam. Just as the beat slowly develops, we notice a new layer of crunching, trundling static noise begin careening over the sounds - where developments of the beat serve to keep the listener very much engaged in what is being listened to, the new layer of static, after having persisted in its perfect minimalism a few minutes, begins to bring its own service to the fore - slowly the sounds begin to merge and mesh together more closely, leaving much less space for the mind to follow and engage in. We begin to get lost in the lusciously droning monotony of the track fairly early on, before even hitting the 5 minute mark. Moving past this mark and the 'immersive' qualities of this monotony begin to falter and break apart as interesting gradual shifts and touches of jagged and sharp movement penetrate the bulking body of the static wall that persists across the beat like a thin sliver of vibrating iron meeting with sharp, moving edges of mechanical machinery. There is a very interesting dialogue that starts to form between these two sounds, one bent on applying order and cohesion to the track and the other bent on bringing chaos and derailing the listener's attention towards hypnotic drone-stupor. In this particular instance, the two very polarising effects combine to create something wholly new and altogether intriguing to listen to. Eventually it is hard to even see the relationship as that, with both sides seeming to come together very harmoniously. There is no defining climax here, all sounds halt together in unison which is a nice touch - nothing overdramatic but also nothing overplayed like a fade out. It creates a nice segue into the second track.
"they followed. landed" opens with a significantly deeper, bassier drum beat with more of a galloping pace, almost a tribal quality to the strikes, there is a wobble to the sound and an echo, as though phasing and reverb have been applied to some of the drum tracks, although it's unclear how much and to which as the beat progresses and we're lost in the uniformity of it all. Slowly, sprays of distortion creep closer and we're led to anticipate the "wall side"- a low and guttural, echoing hall of sound builds ever so slowly in the background and creates a lot of tension - it feels to me like it is constantly advancing from some deeper point, waiting to swallow up the entire track. At moments I'm reminded of the grim, menacing minimal tribalism of artists like Shackleton and Appleblim, although at others this sense is totally stripped as it begins to take on a much more looser and improvised sound than these artists ever dare go near - here we really begin to hear sounds that 'sound modular' in a way you might expect. With that said, the track is hardly 'predictable', and the way it jumps from slow, grim and tribal to sporadic improv-chaos is hard to keep up with and constantly keeps the listener at bay from 'being done with it'. Once again, everything halts on a dotted line, which proves as much a nice closing to the first side as it was a nice transition.
On the second side, "even, if only" starts with a zig-zagging, bouncy and distorted beat that sounds almost like the wave-like dronings of a didgeridoo only slowed down and 'sweeping'. There are some really nice slathers of high-end and mid static noises that seem carefully brushed across the various structures and surfaces of the slow, sometimes faltering, rhythm. As the rhythm really begins to lose its footing it takes on a very idiosyncratic feel - completely stripped of the usual imagery and expectation the listener gets from 'electronic' music, there is a sense of the live and the performed that is now imbued into these sounds. This loss of footing also serves to emphasis and illuminate what the more minute noises and sounds are doing 'around' it as it grasps and clutches for a foothold. Of all the tracks in the album so far this one seems by far the 'messiest', without ever really coming off as too unorganised or too organic. However, it is also the only track so far that escapes approaching 'wall noise' in any way, most of the noise-end is very closely wed with the rhythmic aspect of the track - as I said before, the noise is hidden in the 'minute' and fragile details that the listener is made to stoop down at and carefully examine. They are never able to form a dialogue with the rhythm, usurp it in any way, nor are they able to push the listener into a 'wall hypnosis' that pushes past and forgets the vivid details and intricacies of the sporadic rhythm. Eventually, though, the monotony of the rhythm itself affords its own hypnosis - although the 'hand-crafted' dissimilarity of the loping, bounding pace never allows for total stupor to form - and this hypnosis is fully engaged come the 10 minute mark towards the tracks closing. Once again, a lusciously clean cut transitions us into the next track.
The album's finale, "tempering the glass resist" attacks the listener with a nestful of flint-sized specks and sparkles of tiny high-pitched blips and bits. While some is clearly just high-pitched percussion sample, other parts sound very similar to vinyl crackle, while in the smoky background we can pick apart an amorphous movement of something blurry and wholly unlike these - slowly a dredging rain-like patter of smoggy static lurches forward towards the ear. The sinewy crinkling and crackling here is amazing, it falls together very rhythmically, but in such a haphazard manner that my brain feels as though it's constantly making 'too much sense of it' at one point, and then 'just enough lack of sense' at another - that is, the crackle would be a perfect minimal ANW in its own right if it were totally devoid of its more cyclical rhythmic qualities. Here, it falls back on these repeatedly in spite of sometimes breaking the uniformity of the cycle. As the heavier, smudgy patter ramps up - it becomes clear that this drizzle is the ANW that is being wed with the rhythmic aspect of these spark-flying embers of static. The two don't sit well together immediately, they seem quite far afield from one another and it's hard to place them properly - I often find myself bouncing from one to the other with no clear focus on a specific aspect of either. Fortunately, the two begin to make their changes and developments more and more gradual as they settle in around the 7 minute mark in a manner that seems to suggest we can expect little in the way of unpredictable changes from here on out. It's at this point I try my best to place the two sound together, it comes to my attention that the almost-grating high-pithced clicks, blips, whistles and chirps have now become somewhat smothered by the aforementioned drizzle - their high peaks no longer spitting directly down the ear canal but coming off slightly muted instead, enshrouded in the dark cloud of static noise that has come to dominate. Eventually some new sinewy crackles with much less high-end come crawling in to practically replace this previous nest of chirps, which now really slinks back into the smog, which feels like an odd place for it to be but nonetheless with this new curling, coiling crackle and its slow, serpentine snaking the track really begins to take shape and I can really start to zone out. Coming close to the 15 minute mark an everything gives way to the washing soak of the storm cloud of static - with a final, sudden tear of crackle as it abruptly cuts off - a dying gasp. It's a nice, comfortable and logical closing to a really well-crafted and well thought-out album.
All in all this was a great addition to the series, the label and the project's catalogue in general. The label clearly chose quality over quantity with these two new tapes so I can't really fault them for only having put out two at once - everyone has their preferred way of working after all and sometimes time and other constraints just won't allow for a large batch. The attention to detail on this release was superb. I'm already awaiting the next in the series with eager anticipation. Go out and grab one of the last three copies if you know what's good for you!James Shearman