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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

Stelzer/Murray - Commit [The Helen Scarsdale Agency - 2022]

Commit is a three-track 12”, which slip, slides, and blends sinister ambience, post-industrial texturing, and moody-to-uneasily seared noise craft. It’s a release that’s crafted with both considerable sonic skill and atmospheric flare- neatly sidesteps any mixing-genre cliches, to create a compelling, at points surprisingly record.

The release appears on The Helen Scarsdale Agency- as an Ltd to 200 copies 12” vinyl pressing. Cover artwork wise we have an abstract, yet murkily monochrome illustration of a grainy tunnel, which is glitched out by white and black TV lines at the side. I can’t comment on the physical release beyond the above- as I’m reviewing a digital promo. It can be purchased direct from here 

Commit is the third collaboration between Lowell MA based electro-acoustic noise maker Howard Stelzer, and Massachusetts-based electronic composer Brendan Murray. Both are respected figures in the noise/ ambient underground- but together they do certainly create something rather distinctive and compelling on the three tracks of Commit.

We open with the just shy of ten minutes of “Commit 1”- here we find an entrancing, yet at times seared sonic stew of woozy organ ambience, eerier industrial tone cycling, and building foreboding drone detail. Along with latter on a few micro pops and snaps, and a slow sliding trail of noise detail- with goes from piercing tone sustains, banks of lulling feedback dwell, and grained simmer ‘n’ slide.

Next, we have “Commit 2” this nine minutes and forty-two-second track, mixes constantly bounding-but-blurred key buzz, slow-mo tape slices, and discordant yet brightly darting tone flits. As we move on, we get swirling and atmospheric percussive detail added, along with bird twitter, possible building site field recordings, moodily scuttling micro detail, and hovering pitch dwells.

The release is finished off with the marvellously titled “The House Is Coming From Inside The Call”. This eighteen and forty four-minute track starts out with a blend of distant and murky table like knock loops, shredding hiss, and sudden textural tonal hits. As we move on we get a slowly weaving synth tone atmospherics, chattering amassed voice darts, more pronounced shovelling like loops, dizzyingly sliding and scraping noise detail that brings together scrapes and sears. We along the way sudden breaks in the dense-ness for pitch whines, worksite field recordings, and jarring-yet-lose junk fumbles. Truly a real sonic maze of a track- which both unsettles and at points makes your head spin with the wonderful layers of detail/ depth.

Commit shows two masters of the moody electro-acoustic form creating a release that skillfully balances atmosphere, rewarding textural detail, clever sound uses, and moodily controlled noise detail. 

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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