Chris Abrahams: Play Scar (Room40)
Multi-instrumentalist and tinkerer extraordinaire Chris Abrahams unveils another batch of supremely weird instrumental music on this outing on Australian imprint Room40. The music on Play Scar certainly varies from track to track, but its arrangements have enough in common to unify as a cohesive album from start to finish. It’s a weird melange of electro-acoustic instrumentation and heavily manipulated concrete sounds, combining organ, guitar and electronics in a variety of ways. The organ is the thing that sets these recordings apart the most, as it’s an instrument that doesn’t seem to be featured prominently in general, let alone on an abstract instrumental album. It lends an odd sense of reverence to the music as well as an earthly smallness that makes many of these pieces feel more intimate. Opener “There He Reclined” is a hearty cross-section of the sounds to follow, with its combination of Wurlitzer, cut-up piano recordings, distorted guitar and musique concrete. At times the sound is more severe and manipulated, such as “Fly Them,” which combines clean synth tones with broken-up samples and relaxed Fender Rhodes. “Twig Blown” is a frenzy of backwards concrete sounds, timestretched objects and textures, a handsome lead-in to the clean organ of “The Same Time” and the more straight-forward guitar that starts off “Running Out.” The album continually changes shape, usually combining these various elements in different arrangements. Even when it reaches its most severe, it’s strangely inviting, combining the familiar with more disorienting sounds. There’s a cinematic air to it, distinctly recalling the black and white noir of David Lynch’s Eraserhead with the disorienting narrative of Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad. Abrahams proves himself an original with this exceptional piece of work.