On Third Law, Roly Porter untethers from the experimental dance music he made with Kuedo as half of Vex’d. As he floats further into uncharted territory, what remains is vast immaculate drones, ominous organs and sub-bass pressure. This is extremely heavy music for those who like their sound design mixed with noise; think Ben Frost or Kangding Ray.
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Considering the sheer fucking unpredictability of Roly Porter’s work I feel I should live review this so you can get a real feel for my blood, sweat and tears, each substance more transient than the last as I work my way through terrifying tin-foil ambience, huge tectonic shifts in noise and a whole lot of galaxian unrest. It turns out scientists are talking about a monolithic new planet existing beyond Pluto today; Roly Porter built it. ‘Third Law’ is the sound of something beyond the blank dot of space moving violently off the course of its orbit.
Porter opens ‘Third Law’ up on the previously released “4101”, a piece that destroys the intricate sound narratives of ‘Life Cycle of a Massive Star’ with transient bursts of noise, whirring alarms and the most dreadful passages of quietness you’ve ever put your ears to. As if taking the piercing walls of noise Prurient uses and hushing them around a choral drone, he creates a busy, restless collage that suggests not emptiness but hopelessness. It is horrible; it is wonderful. Suddenly everything changes, you feel me: “In System” scrapes tumultuous percussive sounds against Richter-esque strings and makes you want to cry at the space station.
Since we’re talking thermodynamics, and I know nothing about its third law other than that it all amounts to zero, I should say that this record is emptying. Its heaviness, its assembling of sounds that bleed together but never latch on where they should, is numbing. And what’s most startling about Porter’s work is how brashly he treats silence and noise: “Mass” moves from a lurching, quiet drone into what sounds like space power electronics, and then into a throbbing, miscalculated beat, before falling into a synth battlefleet that recalls Oneohtrix at his less haphazard. It’s a strangely miraculous assembly of sound: it doesn’t feel like parts of his work are contradicting one another, but rather that they’re all held in the same space.
This is a heavy, frightening work that makes astronauting feel as claustrophobic as it is agoraphobic, as if they're two flips of the same coin and it's landed on the side. In space, no one knows what the fuck is going on.
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