Can one be harsh and tender at the same time? If so, Australia’s Matthew Casey (Illuminoscillate) fits the bill. A sweet biography traces his love of music back to the experience of listening to the sound of distant trains from his childhood bed. Uniform Wall seems a natural outgrowth of this experience: the soothing lull of sine oscillation imitates the bending of sound waves, while the motorized crunches imitate the grating of metal on metal. Depending upon one’s state of consciousness, the album can seem either dark ambient or industrial, spiritual or secular. The music mutates as it travels from the speaker to the inner ear.
On paper, Uniform Wall is an album of nine tracks. Yet in execution, it’s a long single work. “Intro” smashes headfirst into “Ninth Demise”; a sinuous pulse links “Ninth Demise” and “City Loop”. The only silence appears between tracks five and six, implying a hope that the album may one day be available on vinyl or cassette. The narrative arc is traced from humble breath to contagious cacophony, from restraint to all-out warfare, although the difference is measured in degrees; Uniform Wall is never very quiet. While the album might be interpreted as a meditation on the space between the individual and society, the machines are not vilified here. If anything, their contributions, both physical and sonic, are celebrated as a welcome addition. One thinks of the typical field recordist’s lament of sound fields “ruined” by passing planes; we suspect that Illuminoscillate would find such fly-bys to be as important as the wind in the woods. By “Late November”, a clear sense of agitation enters the frame, but even this is tempered by repetition. The unfamiliar sounds are at first threatening, but ultimately calming, like the sound of distant pistons reaching the ears of a child. (Richard Allen)