d’incise is a Swiss musician who also coordinates the label INSUB. His new release on Consumer Waste is made from recordings of sparkling liquids and gases, ranging from the instantly recognisable (the brief burst of hiss heard when opening a bottle or can of fizzy drink, the continuous fizzing of the same sat in a glass) to much more anonymous and inscrutable noises. The vast majority of the sounds occupy the same mid-to-high end of the frequency spectrum, and are similarly quite low in amplitude and narrow in bandwidth, yet a wide variety of crackles, fizzes, pops, hisses, gurgles, chinks, and whooshes can be heard.
The single long track is no mere illustrated guide to the carbonated sound world, however: rather than simply present the recordings as objects of acoustic curiosity, the piece seeks to set them out in a way that makes musical sense. Things start very quietly, and remain so for some time, but gradually the level of activity begins to rise, reaching some sort of climax before gently fading away again. The narrowband nature of the sounds means that despite the wide dynamic range of the piece, the overall volume never goes much louder than mezzo-forte; although often intricate, the layering of different sounds of similar pitches doesn’t get too cluttered due to the wide variety of timbres. These classic devices — structure, dynamics, timbral contrast — serve to continually underline the musical intentions of the work.
If anything, I would perhaps have preferred these intentions to have been more ambiguous, and the structure to have been more influenced by the recorded objects; one could imagine, for example, the opening, pouring, and settling of drink constituting a basic structural unit. It’s a question of striking a balance between the will of the composer(s) and that of the material; judging that balance often comes down to convention and personal preference as much as anything. As with all of Consumer Waste’s forays into unusual instrumentations, however, “im/permeability” never feels like a gimmick, nor a sound collector’s slideshow. Rather, the piece unfolds a linear narrative that effectively impresses itself on the listener, the enticing sounds channelled into an eminently musical flow.