w. baer ~ Spalting

HushAt first, Spalting hangs low to the ground, part of a dense electronic cluster that soon starts to throb and rumble in its nebulous hive. Distorted rattles and grinding, slightly dissonant textures start to intermittently fire, only to quickly drop out. An angelic ambient harmony comes to cleanse away the dirt and the grime that the dissonance has left behind, and a hefty beat kicks in. The music has shape-shifted, changed its chameleon colors, and all in the space of a couple of minutes. There’s a lot going on, and as a result the music’s intentionally cramped. It jitters along, never really able to settle. As a result, the music constantly clings to the edge of an electronic precipice.

American artist Wyatt Baer has injected his debut with plenty of raw flair and verve. The music is electronic, but like a high school crush its eyes return again and again to the beauty of ambient music. Spalting has shiny, dreamy interludes that act like a balm and a protective bandage against the dissonant claws that try to tear it apart. The title itself refers to the process of wood coloration, which is caused by fungi, and is primarily found in dead trees. The process, and the very nature of decay itself, is a prominent theme – the dissonance itself is a crumbling monolith that’s been cut down in its prime. The healthy, chunky beats can only hide and contain the rocky oscillations for so long; the music’s always on the verge of a volcanic surge. The beats spew urgent rhythms and the ambient layers flow like running lava.

The confined atmosphere is an urbanized electronica; the high apartments and the blocks of beats, the pyramid-like, glassy modern constructions and the labyrinthine arteries of the streets all combine and hang tightly around the neighborhood of the music. But you can still find peace in this city; there’s a Central Park, where people forego the many sheets of paperwork in favor of a quick run. The gold lights of “Where You Fit” and “How You Look To Me” peak through, glinting and sparkling brightly. It has its own little niche where it can relax, but like a fireball of a sunset it doesn’t stay around for long. Later, the voice of a female spirit hovers over the music, but she soon evaporates and then disappears. The electronics glitch lightly as they work their way through the complex circuitry. And every element has its own place in the midst of the chaos. Over repeated listens, Spalting never produces the same results, making it an extremely varied and rewarding experience. (James Catchpole)

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