Abstract idea artist James Hoff offers up this one for PAN, entitled 'Blaster', a word that has been run through a very bad anagram machine to produce seven tracks with the same letters (and one called, rather bluntly, "Scratch"). These compositions are experiments in the basest form of the word: they're focused around Hoff letting his beats contract computer viruses and seeing what the result was. Hoff's plan is to show the similarities between the music artists make and the viruses that ruin computers: in both cases, someone had to start the fire. True musique concrete if I ever heard it.
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I enjoyed James Hoff’s previous PAN offering from 2011; the riot collage of ‘How Wheeling Feels When The Ground Walks Away’ so was all ears when I first read about ‘Blaster’.
I was half expecting another collage type thing but clearly that’s not James’s schtick. ‘Blaster’ like the work of Oval, Ryoji Ikeda and Yasuno Tone rejoices in the beauty and possibilities of error, what some might call “The Glitch”. You know, the one that Coil worshipped. His methodology here has him using the Blaster virus to infect 808 beats which were then used as the foundations for eight compositions.
The computer music of Russell Haswell, Pita, Hecker, Dave Noyze, Farmers Manuel etc. all springs to mind at various points. With passages going from chaos to some cool discordant wonky funk. It’s difficult to tell how much the virus is “playing” the dislocated rhythms and how much is Jame’s work reassembling the parts. That’s all part of the intrigue for me. All the tracks on the A-side are pretty short with titles being anagrams of the word Blaster.
Over on the B-side we get the 15 minute ‘Scratch’ which doesn’t sit still for a moment, sounding like the virus has truly taken control of its host. This is only the second record from this multi-disciplinary artist and I look forward to hearing more. If you’re looking for the place where sonic art, power electronics, techno and glitch all hang out you just found it. Good stuff.
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