Big Wad Excisions

Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer present their fourth release of 2013, and the first in six years for newly-resurrected label Quakebasket Records. The duo’s trademark instrumentation of bellows and customised / re-purposed electronics is once again in evidence, yet “Big Wad Excisions” is in many ways a surprising departure from previous Coppice works I’m familiar with. Releases such as “Holes/Tract” and “Pied”, though thick and full-bodied in tone, nonetheless comes across as thoroughly refined and controlled; this new work is the sound of the duo letting their hair down.

Of the album’s four tracks, opener “Snuck Keel” is perhaps the most focused and disciplined, its fat oscillating drone structures retaining a methodical, workmanlike feel. The plodding diplodocus thumps of “Impulses for Elaborated Turbulence (Excised)” are another example of the magnificently rich and heavy tones the duo are capable of pulling from their pump organs, and the slightly sci-fi, big lizard theme is reprised in closer “Hoist Spell”, which could easily be a musical rendition of Godzilla ripping Tokyo to shreds. However, it’s with longest track “Sop” that Coppice play the ace they had hiding up their sleeve: all remaining vestiges of rarefied abstraction dissolve into haunting, moonlit melodies, the conceptual fuzz taking on the shimmer of fantasy. A direct play for the emotions, its brazenness proving almost as surprising as the fact that it works.

With “Big Wad Excisions”, it seems as if Cuéllar and Kramer have reached a point at which they are comfortable and confident enough in their practice to throw caution to the wind and let rip, while retaining a formidable conceptual rigour even in the moment of its negation. This is a situation that this reviewer is more than happy with. Exciting too, on the evidence of this and scheduled future releases, is the re-emergence of Quakebasket, with the label’s website promising new works from the likes of Nick Hennies and Will Guthrie. This is all good news for both the brain and the senses — compelling and challenging work well worth supporting.

While we’re on the topic of support, it must be pointed out that Coppice have a rather special fundraising project on the go at the moment. Their long-term project “Vinculum”, an ever-growing archive of sound objects, is beginning to bear fruit in several forms, including an exhibition, installations, free downloads, and extremely limited CD editions. Most intriguing, however, is the “Specimen Edition” box set — and by ‘box’, the pair mean ‘custom-built redwood box in an edition of five, with glass-mounted CDs, index scroll, metal tube filter and integrated uniquely-tuned brass free reed allowing use as a one-of-a-kind wind instrument’. Try doing that with your luxury coloured heavyweight vinyl.

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