YVES DE MEY REVIEW ON BRAINWASHED
April 14 2009
Originally commissioned for a solo dance performance, the single piece on this disc not only stands on its own without any visual elements, but also showcases De Mey's history in film school as well, because it has the dynamicism, variation, and drama of that medium as well.
The dance this was initially composed for was based upon the concept of a sustained physical state, with unique physical elements slowly added to the performance, which the sound matches perfectly. The opening of a quiet, yet very high register digital buzz remains as the basis of the piece throughout most of its 30+ minute duration. Clicks and glitches play a role throughout, but also serve to represent that initial sustained status.
Early on even some of the unique sounds become noticeable: low end guitar tones occasionally arise to compliment the static, a much more dominant and forceful sound contrasted with the otherwise unobtrusive buzz. These prominent, but still dulcet tones increase in intensity and duration, but never feel out of place.
Other nearly identifiable sounds, such as what could be looped and reversed guitar feedback become the focus, as does some distant repeated digital pinging sounds and insect like static interference that clicks and clatters away. The static is met with another droning element, the sound of high-tension power lines on a windy day.
The piece builds up in complexity from here, the sustained elements become more prominent as the static and powerline hum gets upgraded with some consistent low end bass rumble, and the still-appearing guitar notes increase in frequency along with rhythmic fluttering textures, like the sound of digital hummingbirds circling the area as the sound swells, and then pulls away to a more spacious mix.
At this point the melodic elements disappear, leaving the remnants of pulses and electric swells to become the focus, as more subtle pings and watery blasts of static come back in, dissolving into erratic, reverb-encased clicks. A lower frequency melody eventually appears, along with some deep, dark bass synth like notes and a slowly spreading menacing drone. Finally, this drone is the only thing that remains, a slow and distant rumble that subtly ends the piece.
The variation on this single piece is almost dizzying, as just when it seems to lock into a consistent set of sounds, something new and different comes in and upsets the balance, but in a good way. I first played this while doing other (non-music related) activities and rather than fading into the background and just acting on the subconscious level, I caught myself not being able to aim my attention away, which rarely happens with music of this ilk. The amount of variation in this one piece is fascinating, I just wish there would have been an inclusion of the dance performance for comparison purposes.