Review of Sublunar [12k1072]

Fluid Radio (UK)

Sublunaris Kane Ikin’s second solo release on renowned label 12k, following on from last year’s Contrail 7-inch. The album continues the dense, rumbling, hissing sound established by Ikin’s collaborations with Paul Fiocco under the name Solo Andata, yet each of Sublunar sixteen tracks thrums with an insistence and urgency that contrasts sharply with the work produced by that project. Drawing on a wide range of musical and non-musical sources, the notion of a collection or archive of found sounds could easily describe both the individual tracks, and the album as a whole.

Found sounds, but found where? The press release mentions old 78s and early drum machines, among other things, but the tones and textures of this music are alien and unearthly – as if the Curiosity Rover had stumbled upon a stash of antique Martian vinyl and broadcast it back home, bouncing the signal off Titan and Io and other moons after which some of the tracks are named. Yet there’s something familiar in these harmonies and rhythms – it seems that after all Martian musicians still tended to counted their beats in fours – and my dictionary informs me that the word ‘sublunar’ in fact means ‘earthly’ (as in, ‘below the moon’). So perhaps Shakespeare’s image, from The Tempest, of a being transformed by time, geological pressures and an unimaginable weight of water, “a sea-change / into something rich and strange”, would be more appropriate.

At any rate, whether orbiting distant moons or buried beneath sea and rock, there’s the impression that each of these short pieces is threatened by chaos, as if pushed right to the edges of the human and the nameable, teetering on the tipping point of lunacy. An archive rescued, barely, from oblivion. And there’s the sense that this impression is in fact an entirely theatrical phenomenon, which is to say, not an illusion, but a means of creating pasts that did not happen, but could have. Things you have never seen before, yet recognise. Then there’s Derrida’s assertion that the archive exists not for the sake of the past, but for the future, and for the one to come in the future, which prompts the question: what will this future human think of Sublunar, of this archive of sounds that perform possible pasts preserved for possible futures, transformed by static and seismic pressures and moonlight? What distant planets and strange metamorphoses would she imagine we were dreaming of?

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