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Having heard this and enjoyed the serene state of mind it left me in, I thought I’d wait for the absolute right moment and headspace to write about it. So I sit down in front of the computer with a cup of Yorkshire Tea and then BOOM. I thought it was a freakin’ earthquake, but no, the bastard neighbour has only gone and hired some massive beast of a contraption to level his patio and it sounds like fucking Transformer armageddon. Jesus wept, man… I should have him killed… Abort mission.
Resume mission… Sheffield artist Mark Fell (SND, Sensate Focus, Editions Mego, Alku, PAN, Liberation Technologies, Line etc.) is a man never short of original ideas, and here he’s come up with a really interesting concept. That is having humans play his computer-generated rhythms - specifically Drumming Grupo De Percussão who utilize Iannis Xenakis' Sixxen metallophone system which is comprised of a set of six of the microtonally tuned instruments. Said humans receive triggers through headphones and away they go.
There are eight parts/pieces to 'Intra' which sounds initially like some sort of unhinged gamelan - it feels so chaotic, intricate and complex it’s kinda overwhelming, and if you try to focus on and follow a particular rhythm you get lost in a tangled maze. However, after repeated plays, I’ve got the most satisfaction and enjoyment not by focussing attention on individual components but zooming out and taking in the overall soundscape - the bigger picture so to speak. At its most intense on 'Intra-6' it’s pretty ecstatic sounding, as though a colony of a hundred mice snatched the mallets from the humans and are joyously beating away and scampering all over the Metallophones. It’s alluring just how wildly unconventional the whole thing sounds. Imagine an AI composer conducting a little clockwork minimalist orchestra or something. There’s a magical quality to this record where it's actually pretty mental, yet it remains totally palatable and pleasant - especially the less dense, more spacious pieces like 'Intra-9' have a very tranquil, blissed meditative feel not unlike Tomoko Sauvage's hydrophone recordings of water filled porcelain bowls.
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