Seven compilations in seven days. It’s been an exceptional month for compilations, and anyone who checks out all of this week’s features will have acquired quite an education. Today’s album is the wildest of them all, a true experimental extravaganza.
Sonopsies (sound autopsies) is the debut offering from the Caméras Animales label, curated by Nikola Akileus (Ichtyor Tides). There’s a clear sense of irony in the title, which implies that sound is dead, and that we’re performing a post-mortem dissection to see what makes it tick. But this is also what much of the album sounds like: sound dissected, put back together and returned to life. This certainly isn’t Top 40 music, but neither is it indigestible. It’s creative, and a little bit mad.
After a swift beginning – two French monologues and an all-too brief groove piece – the album presents its first full-length excursion. R3PLYc4N’s “R0bot” launches with bhangha beats before getting all psychedelic and wonky with space-age synths and lackadaisically sung speech. Before long, it’s referencing the 80s, specifically the tempo-driven synth patterns of artists like Front 242. It’s really hard to get a handle on, which is the hallmark of any good experimental music. Listening is like walking on marbles. The artist’s name may be read, “Reply’s foreign”, which makes sense in light of the overall oddness of this piece. Flatline Skyline’s selection loves the 80s as well, but only the vocals mark it as eclectic; it’s almost electro pop, in the New Order mold. Still, it’s perfectly fine to skirt the edge of the mainstream, especially when the mainstream is used as a control group; soon the album returns to spoken word and abstract electronic experimentation, and all is well/not well again, depending on one’s perspective. The oddest thing about the album may be its concentration on spoken vocals rather than sung. Akileus is a poet, and this selection reflects his artistic tastes.
Later on, the sonics take a very strange turn with the screaming black metal feedback of Forakte. The transition – even for an eclectic album – is jarring. Perhaps this should have been saved for the last piece. But Sun Thief’s “Saturnalia”, at 12:40 the set’s longest track, makes up for it, building from a vast ambient beginning to a glitch-and-organ duet, transitioning to a near-industrial slow stomper.
Sonopsies is not for everyone, but it doesn’t try to be. It’s meant to open the ears to poetry, musical experimentation and the avant-garde, and is recommended for the adventurous, the curious and the brave. (Richard Allen)