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Field (12k)

Abrams’ Shuttle358 project was one of the first things I heard on
12k, way back in 2000 when his second album Frame was released by the
fledgling label. It was a brave new world at the time, a turn of the
millennium zeitgeist of minimalism and a focus on new forms, sounds,
textures, and techniques using primarily software and digital signal
processing. Frame fit neatly into the framework of 12k’s earliest
ethos, wherein both 12k and LINE were two sides of the same coin;
LINE simply felt like the more severe, purer version of the
minimalist instincts of early 12k releases. Despite a return to the
project in 2015, when Abrams released Can You Prove I Was Born (once
more on 12k), I hadn’t heard anything in many years, going all the
way back to his 2002 album Understanding Wildlife for Mille Plateaux.
Over 15 years later, I was keen on hearing where Abrams would focus
his attention and how his music may have evolved or changed in the
intervening years. In some ways, Field feels both like he’s picked up
where he left off as well as a lateral move toward something slightly
different. His same techniques of cut-and-paste drones and
atmospheres come through clearly on much of Field, but it feels more
restless than some of his more pastoral releases.

Field by SHUTTLE358

Much like listeners
of those minimal albums of yore may want more from their experimental
and minimal ambient music, Abrams seems reluctant to get too
complacent in the serenity that touches many of Field’s
various tracks. Instead, that beauty is worked within and around
numerous quiet elements, and the results come in the form of more
patiently unfolding tracks like “edule,” whose twitchy rhythmic
patterns complement an even swath of drones and whose sinewy lead flirts
with listeners’ ears. It’s the same fidgetiness that makes opener
“star” feel both like an overture and a palate cleanser, setting
different expectations for the odd adventures to follow. Somehow its
cover art makes perfect sense given its title track’s  crinkling,
origami-like-but-not-really structures and textures, feeling just
this side of “not-real” while undulating and layering in
unpredictable ways. The same nervous twitch can be heard on “divide”
and brief interlude “dilate,” but there are more serene moments
in the mix as well. “sea” has the quiet lull of its namesake,
even as little details sound in the distance, while “waves” and
“blue” seem to split the difference. It’s a cool step forward for
the project soundwise, never too comfortable in its own amorphous
skin but still occasionally tapping into moments of true beauty.

Buy it: 12k Bandcamp