Album Review

Microdeform – “Aphelion” – [ZamZam Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   9/19/2014   A Library, Cassette

The name might connote a more mutated musical experiment,
or at least a shorter one. Here are two involved sidelong
pieces from Bristol’s Liam McConaghy; well, some breathing spots
of silence, and the cassette indicates 10 discreet tracks
with a progression from “Aphelion” to “Perihelion” so there
is a sense of direction and connectedness. And it does
start in darkness, whirry-pools of sound, loops chasing loops
and when vocals are dropped in via samples they fall through
a waterworld of echo. At 11:40 in, we hear “Set” repeated
perhaps to indicate the launch of the musical set, or to
invoke the Egyptian god, or a reference to the sun. Other
echo’d voices in German, feel like eavesdropping…impolite
ears for polite conversation? The reverb so strong, like
a drive-in theater at the back of your brain. Percussion
washes away, but the simple repetition of sound and an
occasional snap of live wire bring it back. 25:10 finds
definite silence, the first side is indeed largely dark
but gentle as rain you cannot see, some very slight
classical feel and occasional airtight vox humana patches.
It has the sort of pulse-wave of a loud bell sculpting
all of the sound. (A very long, gradual fade closes side A.)
Side B is more active as the SS Microdeform apparently
approaches the sun. McConaghy loves his pulsing loops,
acting as a rotary noise engine at the core with
Frippertonic and more fulminating guitar on top. Big
beams of synth redline in at times too, a calmer phase
with piano macrodeformed by reverb. Short sonic eclipse
at 25:14 on side B. Overall, a flowing dark ambient vibe,
akin to an abandoned spacecraft used as a cathedral. Or
perhaps a soundtrack on your shoulder while watching
Danny Boyle’s “Sunrise” -Thurston Hunger

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