Jasmine Guffond follows up 2015's excellent Yellow Bell with this her second effort which is influenced apparently by digital surveillance technology. The pieces unfurl with drone patterns interspersed with vocal cut ups giving a trance like effect that is full of both emotional suspense and sonically expansive. Fascinating stuff    

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Traced by Jasmine Guffond
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8/10 Robin 06 July 2017

Jasmine Guffound previously created a wonderful suite for Sonic Pieces called ‘Yellow Bell’, an album focused on the sonic forces centering our universe -- the “fundamental tones” one might not often think about when listening to the musical meanderings of the droneworld. Her beatless trances find a companion here on ‘Traced’, which focuses on another constant, often invisible tone in our lives: the humming technology and data of the surveillance state.

Using high-tech ID systems as her muse -- “facial recognition systems and global monitoring networks”, to be specific -- Guffond has drawn upon real data and generated its imagined soundtrack. The record becomes a mix of clipped beats, rumbling drone and what sounds like sorrowful choir song, broken and warped into a transmissive shape. Suitably, these sounds exist somewhere between calm and dread, speaking to the complicity we urge ourselves to take up in a watchful state -- we will notice it, chastise it and fear it, but we also live among it, and this mix of tonally straightforward ambience and chaotic soundscaping speaks to our muddled internalization.

Does this review sound a little too much like a rejected Black Mirror script? What if the surveillance state but too much? It’s not so much that the message Guffond puts forward on this record is revolutionary; more that its sound is a claustrophobic and terminating one, the kind that mirrors how it feels to be in a sterile waiting room of process. Sounds rattle about the place like a hissing air duct, coupled with the kind of filmic sci-fi ambience that makes you dream of escape -- it sounds like waiting to be torn away from the unknown, and that’s what’s mesmerising about it. I'm gonna go watch the Matrix.


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