new music reviews authored by paul khimasia morgan

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

entropy is what the state makes of it

Entropy Is What The State Makes Of It
CANADA  Caduc  CA11  CD  (2015)

Entropy can be defined as a “lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder”.  What does any State make of it?  Barry Chabala and A F Jones; aka Steerage set an interesting question for the times we live in.  This carefully chosen title may refer to the impending changes fast approaching North America, but could equally be a warning for our own near-future here in the UK?  Entropy… is a work about decay – figuratively and literally.  Caduc proprietor Mathieu Ruhlmann’s ghost ship design on the front cover and overlaid abstract mapping on the rear raise a signpost which points in all and no direction.
Like the inconvenient iceberg that did for the Titanic, electronics crash into acoustic guitar violently.  A strong hand on the tiller is essential.  The first piece, “The Predominance of Fading Decorum” features interesting split tones, wavering.  Barry Chabala’s approach to his guitar is reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s late 70’s /early 80s “frippertronics” experiments briefly.  With Jones’ input, the piece takes on the giddying scale of a tanker or modern cruiseship.
Next, “Entropy” combines drones and abstraction with glacial development and purposeful augmentation – music as if in opposition, but to what?  The soundfield becomes a siren at 8 minutes and later on colossal motors power down.  At 9:20 a tape delay caught my ear.  At least it sounded like tape delay to me.  I love the sound characteristics of analogue tape delay.  One of the players managed to hold a good long section of controlled delay feedback there.  Tricky.  I noticed a small bit more at 15:35.
“Upon Maelstroms of Unbearable Reality” predict the future for north America with its agitated, paranoid chirruping, while final track “A Faculty of Encounter” presents gutteral noises courtesy of Jones perhaps?  It’s hard to imagine even the most experimental guitar set-up sounding like that.  “Upon Maelstroms…” has a cicada-like crust with a dry joint pulse underneath.  Overdriven synth growl.  Guitar is heard in a room with passing traffic and workmen in the background.  The piece ends with some beautifully restrained minimal guitar phrasing.
Another sumptuous package like I’ve come to expect from Caduc – a bookmark, track listing insert, folded sleeve; all full colour printed on art card/paper stuffed into a heavy transparent poly sleeve.  Photography by Jennifer Atchley and design by Ruhlmann and “ship concept” by Sean Jewell.

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