I know it's almost February but why not throw in a belated favourite from 2008. It's only fair really, as I first laid ears on this only a week ago. I can safely say that if I had gotten a hold of Oxide in 08, it would have been comfortably sipping tea and playing cards with the top half of my year end faves.
Damage. Decay. Loss.
These are the first three words on the cardboard insert. When it comes to music, those three words ring like, well... music, to my ears. As far as I can remember my first real experience with decaying sound was discovering Basinski's Disintegration Loops a few years back. Probably around the same time I heard Discreet Music. Needless to say, they both blew me away and ever since, in my musical hunting I've made a focused effort in searching out music that somehow embodies that same decayed or damaged quality. This past year has blown the old rotting doors wide open, with discoveries like Philip Jeck and his record crackle compositions, Liz Harris's distant and dying instrumental vocal weave, Organum and Ferial Confine, who's metal scrapings play out like a score for a post-apocalyptic world, all crumbling smoke stalks and bleeding industry. And thus, capping out the year in discovery, with Oxide at the foot of my doorstep.
As an artist, dabbling in the analogue realm can be a terribly frustrating task: ripped tape splices, dropouts, editing limitations, and "misfit reels" as Chop Shop's Scott Konzelmann puts it. But despite the limitations, magnetic tape can encapsulate a particular warmth to the sounds that becomes lost among the laptop wranglers, because I'm sorry, but there will never be a plug-in for 'decayed analogue feel' that would do the real thing any justice. Therefore, Konzelmann's misfit reels embody not only the sounds within them, but also act like an ode to a lost art in sound making. And it is within these reels that Konzelmann was able to unravel this 49 minute opus. The story goes that a number of original reels of the Chop Shop archive suffered extensive and prolonged moisture damage. Instead of throwing these away, Konzelmann decided to go through the arduous task of salvaging particular sections and then slowly reworking them into a new piece. This eventually turned into the blanketing static and rumbling generator drones that make up 'Oxide'. A skillful screening of inevitable loss and decay. Check it out.