Joshua Sabin shows us the results of his work with the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre Ethnomusicology folk music archives, to which he has applied psychoacoustic research in order to emphasise the beating phenomenon and crucial dissonances within traditional forms. Sutarti is built from these recordings, as well as forest field recordings and added instrumentation. On Subtext.
Vinyl LP £13.49 SUB030
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This is the soundtrack for that 'Midsommar' film yes? Creepy vocals and sinister drones drawing on the traditions of a nation that lies on the Baltic Sea? With a sort of anthropological bent to it? No? It’s not? What is this then?
'Sutarti' is one Joshua Sabin’s second release for the Subtext label, also known as The Home Of The Drone™. Sabin was inspired by recordings of Lithuanian folk music, particularly their use of the (and I’m about to quote from the press release here) “Sutartinė - a distinct canonic song style consisting of two or more voices that purposefully clash creating extremely precise dissonances and the phenomena of aural ‘beating’.”
This style of folk music is incredibly well suited to Sabin’s drone explorations. As a result of that “aural beating” it can produce the sonic effect of running while standing still. Music made of two tones is always going to be minimal, but the right two tones can generate a whole world’s worth of variation between them. ‘Sutari II’ probably best shows off this quality. What sounds like two vocals rise and fall in tandem with each other, the discordance becoming simultaneously unbearable but fascinating. Sabin wisely accompanies this with a booming bass drum whose low end messes with the vocal samples even more. It’s like watching someone throwing stones into the Baltic Sea.
There are a few moments where Sabin amps up the distortion too much, resulting in music that loses some of its identity, and ends up sounding like it could be on any other Subtext release. But like the rest of the label’s best records, those moments which retain the distinctiveness of the music that inspired them are wonderful.
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