Review of Frame [12k1011]

Haunted Ink (US)

Shuttle358’s Frame was released in a limited run of 500 copies in December of 2000. Like just about everything else released on the 12k label, it quickly sold out and has been praised to death by critics all over the place. However, it was recently reissued, and I finally managed to pick up a copy of this disk, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. Shuttle358 is Dan Abrams, a fellow (for me, anyways) Southern Californian, whose made his debut with another 12k release, Optimal.lp, a disk I don’t own because it is still out of print (Taylor Deupree – free publicity on this site if you rerelease that one, too). But I do own Abrams’ Mille Plateaux work, Stream, which was released in 2001 and which is an extremely interesting work. But Frame is better. How do I describe it in words? Well, I can’t. But I can offer parallels and metaphors. Imagine Boards of Canada’s emotional, melodic music crossed with static-charged ambience of Autechre’s Tri Repetae and the propulsive minimalism of Plastikman’s Consumed, and you might get a sense of Frame. This is emotionally-laden glitch music, music that is centered on the same minimalist Mille Plateaux/12k sound prevalent in experimental electronic music today, yet far more intersted in merging those clicks and cuts with slow, lilting, delicate melodies. This is a beautiful record, as quiet and as peaceful as distorted aberrated sounds can be. A good example of this is “Broom,” which is not really the best track on the record, but is, in a way, perfectly representative of the work as a whole. An echoing, repeating synth line floats in the foreground, as snaps, crinkles, and a slow, steady, glitch-bass hover above, below, and behind. The snaps, crinkles, and glitch-bass move in and out in no real order (very arhythmical), but the synth line remains constant (though not entirely repetitious, as this sound changes pitch, frequency, and duration as well). These sounds move in and around for about four minutes. That’s it. But what that description does not reveal is the overall effect here – the almost menacing, expectant feel that creeps in and over you as you listen to these sounds, especially that churning, stuttering, fusebox-gone-awry bass, which never seems to settle and always seems ready to burst. There is great tension here, and that tension is never reconciled, meaning that the effect of the song is to maintain a static tension that feeds into the next track, “Fissure,” and its haunting, echoing static tones which feed, eventually, into quiet, haunting melodies that soothe, placate, and set to rest some of that tension. In all, it is the delicate balance between these miniature sounds and their maximum effects on the listeners that give these songs their power. If you are interested in any of the music on this site, then I encourage you to get to the 12k web site and buy yourself one of the very few copies of Frame before it is too late.

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