This first-time team-up of two New Zealand talents is an intriguing one. Maori sound artist Rob Thorne generally has a more approach to sound that is more abstract and more rooted in acoustic instruments than electronics producer FIS, but the space where they meet in the middle on Clear Stones is special territory indeed, each artist working around the other. Out on Subtext.
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Herein do New Zealand super-pairing Fis & Rob Thorne join forces for a record of super-microscopic noise. Fis’ universe-rattling sound design has previously wowed in many a format, but for ‘Clear Stones’ he lays out a lucid production that exhibits the performances of partner Thorne, a Māori sound artist who uses his array of traditional instruments (the taonga pūoro, or “singing treasures”) against the clear-as-day spaces and furiously dissonant fragments of Fis.
It is staggering. To bring together two types of sound design so specific and detail them so perfectly together is impressive -- at once Fis is zooming in on Thorne’s sounds, highlighting the breath that blows the instruments itself as well as the frequencies those instruments travel at, and also creating soundscapes that overwhelm. It’s the case that their practices, in a strange way, can do similar things, as Fis notes the distortion I think I’ve heard may actually be the resonating of Thorne’s pūtōrino. Their performances are inseparable.
It is not simply one environment that the duo create together, but a whole set of elements crashing against it. “Front Ear” is a monstrous drone that suggests rhythm through Fis’ caustic, roaring waves of sound and the high frequencies delivered by Thorne. “Glunn Herrin” builds like a train travelling faster and faster towards its recipient, its oscillations terrifying before collapsing into silence for Thorne to receive with dissonant blows. Every detail is meticulous and compelling; fucking listen to this.
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