Review of Volume Objects [12k1045]

Earlabs (.ORG)

Autistici‘s own précis of his work in general “Tiny Details – Abstract Ambience and Broken Space” informs a lot about his new CD release on the 12k label – Volume Objects. Coupled with the music inspired black and white cover art and accompanying eight-page booklet of black and white photographs by Taylor Deupree, Volume Objects is a beautiful audio story of “tiny details” culled from found sounds, acoustic instruments, field recordings, synthesizers, and space.

I’ve followed Autistici‘s online work for several years (Kikapu, Hippocamp, Stroem, TIBProd., Filament), and it’s actually no surprise to me that he is now releasing a full length album on such a well respected and prominent label as 12k. What I heard always amazed me. Those traces of melody and structure blended with noise and abstractness have been present from the beginning, but now I hear a more refined, a more focused, a more cogent Autistici. With Volume Objects you’ll hear a more melodious Autistici. His signature broken ambiances and textures of dissonance are never too far away, but there’s clearly a greater emphasis on composing more structured and harmonious pieces when compared with most of what I’ve heard before.

The release notes are right on the mark and condense the album to it’s essence in saying that: “Melody and form are hinted at and then in a whisper, a crackle, are gone. A sense of narrative and place created as if a hundred tiny objects are scattered in front of you, a fractured story that you thought you once remembered.” I like that analogy. There’s definitely a story here, but the storyline is splintered, scattered, and ephemeral.

A full appreciation of Autistici‘s compositions calls for paying attention to the minutiae of details that he incorporates into each of them, ranging from captured organic sounds (found sounds, field recordings, somatic sounds, acoustic instrument samples) to synthetic tones and noises. The organic and synthetic and the melodic and unmusical vie against one another, competing for the listener’s attention, while, at the same time, joining together and forming an aural lattice of complementary textures.

Some highlights for me: “9V Tree Battery” and “Wire Cage for Tiny Birds” attest to Autistici‘s gentlest and most melodic moments, while “Attaching Softness to a Shell [C]” shows just how much beauty he can coax out of a just a few key ingredients. “Heated Dust on a Sunlit Window” blends warm, mellow tones with abstract textures such as fire-like pop and sizzle, the rapid-fire keystroke clicks-and-clacks of an old manual typewriter, and snappish wisps of noise like the crack of whip. Displaying less melody and more discord, “To Human Form” and the playful “From a False Memory” are key tracks. I’ll have to say that “Broken Guitar, Discarded Violin” is my personal favorite track. The initial sad, delicately resonating, guitar melody and harmonics punctuated with droning tones, percussive noises, and fragments of electronic noise brought a lump to my throat. The guitar disappears during the middle third, letting the abstract electronics tones and shreds of noise take the forefront, and two-thirds of the way through, a catchy, but less than harmonious, violin melody arrives accompanied by various clicks and typewriter-like sounds. This track which had such a musical and poignant beginning gradually slides into something completely opposite.

Autistici‘s beautiful, affecting sounds complemented with Taylor Deupree’s black-and-white, music-inspired photographs, place Volume Objects in my top ten list of releases for 2007.

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