All manner of gorgeous tracks occupy Bana Haffar‘s Soundcloud page, many unreleased. The Los Angeles artist has been swiftly building her sonic resume over the past two years, and Matiere is her latest public declaration. This follow-up to last year’s Alif 12″ sees her continue to expand the length of her tracks into something resembling mini-sets; “Endo” and “Exo” are dual movements of the same work, at eighteen total minutes a light yet satisfying two course meal.
Much of Haffar’s work is with patches (see photo), but she keeps the shifts to a minimum here, preferring to approach the movements in different manners rather than to alter their base sound. As “Endo” begins, it sounds like the tuning of a bass guitar, demonstrating the range of the Make Noise modular synthesizer. One knows a song is going to break out; one simply doesn’t know when. The wait turns out to be two and a half minutes, the length at which a modern dance song is choking on its third chorus. By creating an aura of expectation, Haffar heightens the appreciation of the higher pitched patterns, cross-stitched into the grooves.
Now remember the notes as the track fades. The key will remain the same, as will the patch. Yet “Exo” is a different beast, the tune-up replaced by tapping, the abstraction by clear melodic progression. Here there be bells, ritualistic, calling the track to order; and voices, present yet sublimated in the prior track, providing texture and balance. Return to “Endo,” and one can hear each component anew. “Endo” is the more experimental track, “Exo” nearly – but not quite – suited for the dance floor. The second half is like the clearing of brush from a path, exposing an invitation. But what shall we do if we don’t dance? Perhaps we might admire how Haffar can view the same material in opposing yet complimentary ways, and use this idea to expand our own horizons. (Richard Allen)