Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Three From Graham Stewart's VioSac

Known two decades ago as Violence And The Sacred (I still have one of the early LPs, Suture Self - this writer is getting old, you see) VioSac is basically Graham Stewart, from Ontario, who transform into (not always) wacky sounds the many suggestions that buzz in his mind, with just a little help from friends in some occasions. An old-tech type of acousmatic pastry – resolutely recorded on analogue tape – which reveals a number of very nice surprises. These three CDs represent the result of the project’s second coming after several years of hiatus; they were published yearly – starting in 2008 - and are reviewed according to their chronologic order. Hey you, people who spent a fortune for NWW’s Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table: there’s more attractive substance herein.

VIOSAC – Rusty Pile

Instigation to obsessive behaviours through the use of a neurotic variety of dissonant sequencing (brought to extreme consequences in the exaggeratedly protracted title track). Elsewhere, intriguing reiterations and leisurely paced abstract electronics pave the way to an easier enjoyment of an ill-minded quietness, the impossibility of referencing the sounds to anything well-known a definite plus. Samples of classic music appear like funny ghosts amidst panoramas overflowed with deformed dichotomies and rambling precariousness. Spoken word (texts by a William Shakespeare) is not exactly welcome, especially when it ruins a beautifully misshapen string loop (“Sonnet 139/66”) or unspeakably nonfigurative suspensions (“Sonnet 64/15”). This is uncompromisingly disordered stuff: at times na├»ve, often labyrinthine, for the large part appreciably unendurable due to a reluctance to open the doors to a “first come, first served” kind of short-term audience. On the contrary, Rusty Pile must be attentively analyzed in order to appreciate its most satisfying traits, which translates into “legitimate experimental release”.

VIOSAC – You Are Planning To Enjoy The Apocalypse

The record was mainly composed on Korg analogue synthesizers plus “processed audio from primary source material and field/found recordings”. Besides the boss, it features the participation of other human entities in a couple of instances (Ted Wheeler and a “St. Deborah”). This time the title track - also the longest, once again - is placed right at the beginning but its compulsiveness is rendered more acceptable by the volatility of the sequences, and the nineteen minutes flow pretty easily. The rest is a mixture of relentless aural vexations and cerebral bewilderment permeated by sonorities that are best described as “deliriously cluttered”. One manages to get a vague impression of a few familiar elements: deformed voices, guitars equalized as if played inside a stomach. The recalcitrant temperament of some of these digressions – at times enhanced by industrial percussions who would test Job’s patience - is not exactly what will persuade a loved person to remain faithful. However, this constant rupture of any scheme that might remotely be associated with consonance and mental respite is entertaining. Quite often, this music is so absurdly unhinged that ends sounding like a sticky magma of cacophonic emissions of which we can just imagine the underlying plot. Fact is, this kind of matter has always interested yours truly and Stewart is not an adolescent foot-dragger.

VIOSAC – Dawning Luminosity

And so, when everything looked set for my third attempt to find strange words to depict another eerie recipe by Stewart, we’re instead welcomed by a brand of semi-static loop-based electronica whose overall sonority lies halfway through a depressurized Eliane Radigue and the above mentioned NWW circa Soliloquy For Lilith, with wider spaces for the mind to roam. There’s nothing much to report about in the unfolding of this work, which is subdivided in three parts and thus designed: “Music of sadness and resolution”. Let’s just say that it is a soothing kind of discreetly enigmatic ethereal soundscape with deeper implications than sheer “ambient”, definitely capable of involving the listener beyond its use as background (which is one of the options, although the sonic tissue implies something more interesting, being formed by a multiple layering-cum-modulation of Moog and Korg synths processed via Vermona and Roland effects). The features I love most are the slowly sloping waves and the warm pulsations generated by those machines, which – taken in the opportune moment – can connect with the mental dimension where rational justifications of psychoacoustic phenomena are not mandatory. We let the sounds do the talking, and they talk convincingly. As Stewart puts it, “understand, and you’re liberated”.