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15 April 2017

WaSm:
Een (silken tofu)

Een
is the first recorded document of an ongoing project between
Dutch friends and collaborators Frans de Waard and Jos Smolders. For
decades, each has been digging deep into experimental sound art, far
removed from the constraints of genre or traditional musicality and
instead exploring the granular, gritty, abrasive, and minute. The
five parts of Een follow suit, restless and fidgety in their
enthusiasm for exploring sonic terrain. Recordings of environments,
contact mics, and found sounds and objects are aassembled and
manipulated to create interesting and occasionally maddening results.
The tracks appear numbered out of order, starting with “Vijf,” a
mildly unsettling blend of acoustic gonging, synth drones, distant
crashes, and cut-up vocal recordings (which sound suspiciously like
William S. Burroughs). Samples weave from channel to channel, often
enhancing how disorienting the duo’s productions are. There is
something old school about the way Een is assembled and how it plays,
recalling the sound collage efforts of veteran acts like The Hafler
Trio; that’s no real surprise, considering both de Waard and Smolders
are contemporaries of such artists.

Een by WaSm

“Twee” dives deeper into hazy
field recordings but is periodically interrupted by an abrasive
zig-zag of synthesized noise, as if to remind listeners that getting
comfortable in WaSm’s landscape is not an option. But I prefer the
more prolonged patience of “Drie” and “Een,” two cuts whose
trajectory feels less deliberately beguiling, more gradual. Closer
“Vier” is the longest of the set, and it feels like an
amalgamation of what’s come before: hazy, accelerating drones of
harsh noise, droning industrial ambience, delicate gonging, and deft
mixing board gynmastics, often shifting position of sounds as they
weave in and out of one another. For all its turns and surprises, Een feels less like a bold new statement and more like
a logical progression and extension of the experimental repertoire of
each artist as well as that of their assorted contemporaries and peers working with sound collage. Its
seriousness is tempered by its playful nerve, occasionally tilting
into oddly abstract humor, often unwilling to remain still for very
long and willing to throw a curveball into the mix at any given time to keep
things interesting. Recommended for fans of The Hafler Trio, Nurse
With Wound, Illusion of Safety, or newer collage artists such as The Focus Group, to name a few.

Buy it: Bandcamp

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