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Daniel Menche: Marriage of Metals (Editions Mego)

Noisemaker and fellow Portlander Daniel Menche has been at it for some time now, and admittedly this is my first dip into his repertoire in some time. Noise (in all of its various permutations or interpretations, with a pretty broad amount of latitude) is something that I consider fairly ageless. Even the most advanced and current electronic music, using new software, effects, and tactics — can tend to date itself over time, neither a good nor a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. However, noise tends to completely sidestep such convenient dating. Daniel Menche’s Marriage of Metals shares both the ethos of so-called pure noise but also something more nuanced, timbral, and perhaps even introspective. The entire album is comprised of manipulated recordings of gamelan instruments (primarily gongs, I’m assuming), and while gamelan ensembles traditionally can accompany a variety of performances, ceremonies, and other contexts, Menche seems to be more intent on deconstructing the sound and meditating on that in itself rather than cultural context. So Marriage of Metals seems to avoid the pitfalls of cultural appropriation in any sense of Westernized exoticism, but instead lets the metals speak for themselves. The album is split into two halves, with the first starting in a quiet, hazy rumble. Metallic timbres surface brightly in cascading waves, usually buried under a wall of distortion that adds surface tension. It all dissipates to break cleanly at the halfway point, and then the second half begins more clearly. Metallic overtones and harmonics play more of a key role in the mix, with this second portion feeling less mired in distortion and more cyclical and wandering in nature, phrases weaving in and out of one another. Marriage of Metals is an oddly both serene and dynamic album, managing to dodge novelty (by virtue of the recording source material) as well as existing as something outside of the more generic catch-all of “noise.”

Buy it: Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes