Review of Monocoastal [12k1063]

Fluid Radio (UK)

Monocoastal is the latest release from label 12k, and comes courtesy of sound artist Marcus Fischer. A multimedia performer who sometimes performs as map~map or part of the duo Unrecognizable Now, Fischer’s music is built on a predominant use of guitar, combined with analogue processing and found sounds. In keeping with the recent trend of 12k outputs, Monocoastal explores music inspired by the aquatic world, and through his travelling across the Pacific coast, Fischer provides his listeners with a unique insight into the ocean and the surrounding nature that lies to the west of North America.

An album that is best experienced in its entirety, Monocoastal builds itself through subtle sound references that intertwine with minimalist guitar play. Often it is these light auditory sketches, such as hints of tape noise or the faint ringing of a bell that go some way to creating an expansive atmosphere rich with images of an effervescent surf and the sense of a lonely sea breeze. This is clear from the start where album opener ‘Wave Atlas’ utilises glitches, clicks and fuzzes of noise to conjure a sense of water colliding with land. Indeed it is the thought of spume, that foamy mix of sea water in the wake of a crashing wave that one imagines throughout. This is continued on tracks like ‘Monocoastal 1’ where ethereal sound processes merge with field recordings while a slow moving guitar plays on top. Here one imagines both the tranquillity of the coast as well as the respiratory quality of an ebbing and flowing tide.

Reading further into the construction of this album one learns of some of the ingredients that have brought it to life. Fischer has utilised instruments like a piano found in a salvage warehouse or a xylophone made of metal wrenches. Through the use of these found instruments and the resulting manipulation that he actions, Fischer creates a record that is purposefully fragmented and worn down. As with the effect of stripping floor boards or exposing brick work in a building to enhance character, it feels as if a similar process has been applied here.

Monocoastal marks another fine entry into the 12k roster. There is something grand to be said of a work that undertakes an almost microscopic approach to sound detail. Just as one can listen to a seashell to create a sense of the coast, Monocoastal provides a likeness to this; bringing the sea and its surrounding beauty to life through a collection of instruments and their resulting sounds.

– Review by Josh Atkin for Fluid Radio

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