The enigmatic Paris-based Kassel Jaeger may be one person or two (recent reports conflict), but it doesn’t really matter when the artist’s sounds are so alluring. Conversely, the sources of Delta are clearly explained, but the music still comes across as mysterious. In this case, explanation is overrated.
Take for example “Campo Del Cielo”, “exclusively derived and processed from stones recordings”. One might expect this piece to sound like a field recording, with footfalls on rocks, gravel on gravel, pebbles tossed and dropped. Yet while such interactions may have occurred, these sound sources are clipped, extended, manipulated and indentured. It does help to know that stones are the source of these sounds, but only for purposes of identification. The violent tide may be withdrawing from Pebble Beach, but the surrounding drones would not have been audible without amplification. In order to capture such elongated tones, the artist recorded the electromagnetic resonances of a nearby meterorite. As such, “Campo Del Cielo” represents both an impression of the natural world and a purer sonic image than we would be able to hear on our own.
While the drone takes its sweet time to appear in the title track, the delta is reflected in the gradual fanning out of sounds. The latter part of the piece grows as thick as undisturbed sediment, staking its claim to its new sonic location. Just as the delta “neutralizes” the tide, the drone neutralizes the squeaky, looped tone that runs throughout the track, burying its breath beneath sand. “A Guest + a Host α” may seem an entirely different beast on paper, a modular synth work first presented as an installation. And yet the grainy textures remain, linking this piece with the others, providing a remarkable dynamic consistency. A drastic shift at 3:45 shoves the selection toward melody, but the music resists, digging in its heels, defending the electrical surges and piercing tones like a castle besieged. In the third act, the rough edges grow momentarily smooth until entropy re-intrudes.
The final seconds imitate the crackle at the end of vinyl; a commentary, perhaps, since this is vinyl, that what we hear is not necessarily what is. But what a sweet illusion. (Richard Allen)