Brendan Murray and Howard Stelzer are two experimental vets from the Boston scene that have merged their musical talents for the first time — amazingly, considering their long friendship — to produce Connector. The potency of Stelzer and Murray’s music lies in its mercurial nature, swimming between the noise/drone border, with at least a modicum of hauntological baggage.
The label description acknowledges Murray’s keen sense of long-view compositional strategy, previously found on albums Commonwealth and Of Distance. Connector is decidedly more here-and-now. Stelzer’s brutalized magnetic tape dots the set with an imperfection that lends these shadowy explorations an intriguing immediacy. Sonically, Murray does a good job infusing Stelzer’s eroded tapestries with his patented swelling synths and manipulated field recordings.
The entire album shows off the seamless marriage of these two artist’s constituent contributions, but it’s on “Three,” with its weave of alien tones and squealing analog noise, where the duo conjures the underlying dread to the surface. If a gate to hell were ever to violently swing open, this is the sound that would pour out. Connector’s remaining suites operate on a slightly different wavelength, meditating more so on gentle tactility and the perpetuity of mechanized sound — look no further than the steady plod that characterizes the beginning of “Two” and “Four.” Menacing or not, to question the existence of purposeful intent behind these pieces is to have no basis for this type of music whatsoever. Cold, clinical execution can be a beautiful thing. (Adrian Dziewanski)