The eye is drawn to Iris Childres’ intense cover art: a woman is dangled and decapitated, and yet there’s no blood. She seems resigned, even defiant; no scream escapes her lips, no contorted mask of pain. She seems alive and yet not alive, in the same way as the orchestra on Logan McBroom‘s EP is sampled, yet present: their death is their life.
On “A Tragic End to a Tragic Symphony Orchestra”, the vinyl crackles and the strings surge. The production seems like an outtake from the vault of A Winged Victory for the Sullen. And yet, there’s more than one source, and each source has been manipulated until it is the sonic equivalent of A.I.: an orchestra one would love to hear in concert, and yet which never existed. Is it a virtual orchestra, or a phantasm? And from whence does the applause come? One imagines this as a transmission from a fictional past, the right hand of one century against the left hand of another.
Modern sampling – a snippet here, a snippet there, until a sweater is assembled – reached an early peak in 2000 with The Avalanches, who used thousands of different sources, mulching most beyond recognition. A similar approach is apparent in McBroom’s work, as he takes dots and forms them into designs. The title is ironic; the orchestra is not dead, but changed – a spiritual concept meant to communicate that the spirit remains present after the body has decayed. Only on “Limbica” does a limping beat contribute predictable form: the body before it falls from the wires. The spoken word fragments of “Something Is Outside the Ship” underline the fact that quotes transcend time just as musical phrases, and are just as likely to be taken out of context, their meaning stripped or mined.
McBroom’s other work isn’t like this; the rest of his Bandcamp tracks veer between acoustic guitar, folk singing and gamer beeps, save for “Wrist Control”, which might have fit on this EP. We love this new sound, and hope he sticks with it. The orchestra is dead; long live the orchestra. (Richard Allen)