Rust is the third in the Adventurous Music Book Series; readers may recall last summer’s Relatives Schoensein, which paired images of weathered street art with the work of 40 sound artists. Rust operates along the same lines, with an upgrade: this time it’s a hardback book featuring photography and layout by Signalstoerung, as two artists ~ Fail & Hendekagon ~ join forces to score the sounds of deterioration.
The vibrant visuals are once again the entry point. Fans of abstract art may wonder at the process of time creating its own impassive, striking images. Not everything portrayed here is rust, but the processes of smudging, peeling and decaying are in full effect. The eight drone pieces created by the duo, simply titled “Rust I-XIII,” replicate the process for the ears.
Two types of drone are represented here: the first a constant hum, reflecting the movement of time. “Rust I” shelters its incorporated harmonies like a buried orchestra. The other involves debris and distortion, and in such pieces the process of rust seems to find its sonic soulmate. There’s a hint of such damage in the early industrial minute of “Rust II’ before the rustling subsides. Mid-piece, the harmonics return, as if to serenade the colors as they begin to leech. Then “Rust III,” the album’s briefest piece, unleashes the full force of distortion with heavy metal tones and the promise of destruction, revisited in “Rust V” with factory squelches and a metallic sheen.
Peeling paint implies a high degree of boredom. But the effect of peeled paint is often stunning. What if we could watch paint peel quickly, perhaps in a time-lapse video? Fail & Hendekagon’s music is the aural equivalent. At 12:40, “Rust VI” is the album’s longest piece, a foray into damaged sound and abrasion. The tone is oppressive, immersive, claustrophobic. Crucially, it sounds like rust and as such, justifies the entire existence of the project.
Strangely, as Dan Fox points out in the liner notes, iron ore is mined to seed the creation of iron and steel, “a constant death and rebirth cycle.” The loud gives way to the soft, the discarded to the sought, the piece to a new whole. In the final two parts, the artists suggest this chemical mystery. Matter cannot be destroyed, but can be altered. This parable has been applied to buildings, even bodies. “Rust VII” has an orchestral, almost holy tone. The twist, as shown by Signalstoerung, is that we need not fear deterioration, because in the eye of the beholder, even the process can be beautiful. (Richard Allen)