Great Stone / Blood Dunza
The duo of Cyril Bondi and d’incise return with a new release on Swiss label Aussenraum. More compact and concise than last year’s excellent “A new castle”, these two tracks were composed by deconstructing two classic roots reggae tunes from the 1970s, apparently using methods inspired by dub techniques. This isn’t the first time diatribes have experimented with this approach, with dub influences also appearing on 2013’s “Augustus”, but with “Great stone / Blood dunza” the two artists set out to articulate these influences all the more clearly.
My knowledge of dub is vanishingly small, but the two tracks travel quite some distance over the course of their transformation. “Blood dunza” bears perhaps the more obvious traces of its roots reggae origins, with percussive beats and deep sub-bass in full evidence. However, these elements, along with a handful of others of a mostly high-pitched tonal variety, are presented on their own or in different combinations of two or three, separated by short silences. The dub is broken down into its constituent parts and rebuilt again in dozens of different constellations, according to an entirely different schema. No longer is it a case of keeping the dancefloor moving or creating space for a firebrand vocal (though the ‘empty midrange’ is very much in evidence); instead, the qualities of each individual sound become the focus, though not without subtle nods towards certain ghostly or hollowed-out affects.
“Great stone” takes the tones of its source material and rearranges them into long held chords of a type common to the corner of experimental music diatribes are most readily associated with. The piece is therefore perhaps less innovative in its structure than “Blood dunza”, but the harmonies that emerge from the various chords are nonetheless very enjoyable, and the dub references push explorations of the outer regions of the audible frequency spectrum. I don’t know what a dub musician would make of diatribes’ efforts, but as pieces of experimental electroacoustic music built around a consideration of individual timbres and their relations, these two tracks more than pull their weight.