Olekranon ~ {barbarians}

This is the nicest sort of surprise ~ a disc of great new music, arriving not in the inbox but in the mailbox.  The origin of the disc was at first a mystery, until I gleaned from the liner notes that it was the work of Sujo (Ryan Huber) under the alias of Olekranon.  This guy is clearly one of the best in the field, and he seems to get a hit every time he steps to the plate.  A more subdued affair than Diaspora, {barbarians} still manages to get under the skin. These drones may wind and weave, but their attack is no less deadly.

{barbarians} is a more zoned out, mulched take on the sounds previously explored on Olekranon’s recent split with PS Stamps Black (Tilt Recordings).  While that release showcased the beats, this one emphasizes the drones.  As the disc progresses, these drones grow more regal in stature, building from humble origins yet culminating in glory.  While a sound level meter would be necessary to confirm the conclusion of the ear, it seems as if each track’s peak is a bit louder than that of the previous piece.  These rising levels, paired with a calm retreat at the end of “Diffident”, reflect wise sequencing; play these tracks in another order, and the flow would suffer.

In their own unapologetic fashion, each of these five tracks is indeed a barbarian, unconcerned with niceties, interested more in power than in principle, gladly pillaging the sonic field for salvageable meat.  When the percussion is used, it’s less an enhancement than an additional weapon.  Instead of a bludgeon this time, Huber uses a net: a device that causes panic, protects the hunter and invites the prey to make the situation worse.  The net adds sound to sound, heaping prisoner upon prisoner, wave upon wave until the conglomeration threatens to collapse under its own weight.  And yet it never does.  These tracks may be barbarians, but they’re invested in their own survival.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual to make their speeches, to say what they have to say?  Because the barbarians are coming today and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking (Cavafy).  Olekranon isn’t interested in tradition; he’s come to knock down the house.

At 24 minutes in length, the EP is best played in sequence, but each piece offers its own peculiar pleasures, from the rustling wind sounds of the title track to the all-encompassing static trebles of “Seedling”.  The internal development demonstrates Huber’s concern with composition; a drone may seem like a pattern to some, but it can also be a modulated noise, which is what the artist offers here.  No note stays where it starts, and some end up far from home, disoriented by the noise and the drift.  Next up is a collaboration with Sun Hammer, another like minded artist.  Huber hasn’t let us down yet, so we’ve got high hopes for that upcoming release as well.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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