Maria W Horn ~ Epistasis

Where last year’s Kontrapoetik was furious and direct, Epistasis is passionate and exploratory, structured like an ouroboros that in completing its form comes to both an end and a beginning. One depends on the other, the circularity of this mythical figure not so much an instance of unmoving things but of action and reaction, chains of effects whose relationships are anything but linear.

The “Interlocked Cycles” – the first and last tracks in the album – are thus the setup and the finale, a loop in which every instrument and every note aims for the subtle dissolution of the straight musical line. Like the snow in the cover, an almost White on White composition, the players lay down sheet after sheet of tones that, even when conforming clearly cut sequences, feels like staring into the sky. There’s a certain intensity to it, gazing into something too vast to apprehend, but small enough to take in, the density of any single point enough to cause a measure of vertigo. Just when the first “Cycle” is coming to an end, with all its elements now in play managing to keep the illusion of the simplicity of the first few strokes of piano, the titular track emerges from the storm.

The word itself refers to a phenomenon whose definition varies across fields, but that generally speaking stands for the feedback relationship between two or more genes. As one gene acts, another one follows, their effects not really adding up but creating a sort of branching network. Like the dense copse of a pine forest in winter, the endless detonations of dependent activity resist the control exerted by sense and reason; the music that results from such an idea burns with the blizzard, its harmonics growling from an unseen place, flashing the fangs of a melancholic wilderness that was once spurned by the moon’s radiance. Strings and electric guitar continually clash, but not in dramatic, masculinist forms. Their clash is the threatening erasure of the landscape by snow, un-monumental, ephemeral, the rage of a quiet stream washing away the stones over millennia.

The third track, “Konvektion”, grows the sheer power of the titular piece in a new direction, almost purely harmonic, its density found in-between tones, their vibrant drones making the melancholy sweep throughout the landscape as wind. It is quite an interesting track, inspired by Arvo Pärt’s tintinnabuli technique, performed by two musicians on a single organ, who play chords following the patterns of their breathing cycles. An electronic drone accompanies them, tracing the cycles and seemingly marking their time, every new chord dependent on the one that came before.

The second “Interlocked Cycle” turns back into the land of powerful silences and soft awe, culminating the album with ice-scorching passion. It’s a slow, sad piece, practically mournful: our epistatic adventure has come to the stage at which it haunts itself, its emotional clarity a ghost that hangs over the stormy, hazy atmospherics of its own beginning. It hints towards the sublime, a raw and terrible blast of tranquility, with such a quiet intensity that it risks to completely wipe out everything that came before. That is, nevertheless, the purpose of this end, and as the brilliance of the color white wipes away all signs of life, a pretty melody comes to signal that it will all become anew, every little movement detonating new ones, every action and every sequence dependent on each other. (David Murrieta Flores)

Available here.

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on Feminatronic and commented:
    “There’s a certain intensity to it, gazing into something too vast to apprehend, but small enough to take in, ”
    This review says it all, so nothing to add except its’ sparseness seems to reflect my present mood – undercurents of unease.

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