The Twisted Treeline label has been responsible for a good many releases in the past few months, and it’s not even a year old. A somewhat quiet label releasing somewhat quiet music, the label is a hardworking yet humble presence whose efforts are slowly paying off through a diverse and accomplished body of work.
UK based Phil Edwards (PJE) is the latest artist to participate in the label’s postcard series, and Sea of State provides him with an excellent opportunity to spread his wings. The 3″ format is the perfect place for a 19-minute drone, as it allows the opportunity for such a piece to stand on its own, uncrowded and proud.
The selection begins with a series of mismatched tones that rise to the surface, only to be conquered by other tones. Multiple layers undulate while erstwhile participants drop in, borrow cups of sugar, and leave: single beats, paired guitar notes, an undercurrent of bass. Dark chains rattle like a prisoner in leg irons. The piece toys with expectations of form; the harmonics may be the key, but the listener keeps searching for identifiable notes in the morass. In the final minutes, crackling street noises and a sampled loop offer a tentative handhold. But the mind is so used to seeking structure that it begins to play tricks. The words “I’m not strange anymore” seem to reset and repeat. And yet, no words are spoken; the perceived speech is actually the sound of a car’s ignition, which underlines the theme of thwarted expectation. This reversal provides the piece with its peculiar, disorienting power; in this setting, normal is no longer normal, and even sparks can speak. (Richard Allen)