Éter are a small experimental label from Colombia. Despite their size, the music they release is a violent earthquake of sound, capable of stomping systems. If you’d like to get to know them a little better, their two recent releases are a great place to start. Éter hone in on the sound itself; her essence, her spirit. It’s minimal music, and it has to be in order to have any real impact. You can truly get into the music, understand her, when she’s travelling at a slower pace. The music bleeds into the skin, slowly enveloping your spirit. Minimal music has always had a severe case of OCD, so it isn’t a surprise to see it attend to the little details. Ambient music is more of a laid-back stoner in their late teens, a reflective, wide-open terrain that doesn’t always plan for the future, so when the two come together you’re sure of an interesting listen.
Narrativas de la material, by Colombia’s David Vélez, is a sound work that primarily focuses on the ‘exploration and abuse of obsolete electronic devices’ and substances that react to water. Narrativas de la material (Narratives of Matter) is an intriguing listen right from the outset. The corroding, acidic sound pops lightly against the ear and is pretty soothing. The pouring of a hot drink from a steaming kettle is likewise a lulling, comfortable sound – the image of tea taken in a late summer garden on a Saturday afternoon – and despite it being very familiar, it’s a sound that we subconsciously block. If only we opened our ears, we’d hear the refreshing, fluid pitch of the steamy water substituting one home for another. The sound comes from a restricted source and is released into the open air, like a caged bird taking flight for the first time. While this could easily be a passive listen, the music concentrates on the scientific process and goes into close up detail. There is a sequence, a once-concealed pattern that slowly reveals itself, like a crop circle seen from above, leisurely coming into view at first light. The tone dissolves as the music dissolves, going from a deep bass to a steam-thin treble.
A rhythm, or a repeated fragment in the guise of a rhythm, enters and subsides. Its appearance shifts like a musical chameleon, and a deeper bass throbs against the glitching sequences. Despite its highly detailed layering, it is never sterile, boring or washed of its colour. The experimental music is as unpredictable as it should be, providing more than a healthy dose of karma and chaos. It’s exciting. Although he grinds through the gears of electronic noise, Vélez never sets out to intimidate his audience. While Wolf Eyes and Slogun scream brilliant obscenities from their throne of trash, Vélez uses noise in a different way. He doesn’t want to frighten us or rage all day. Vélez wants us to discover the beauty of micro-tonal sound – the sound of the everyday – the sound that we at times take for granted.
Infinitesimal beauty can be found in and around the tiny moments of life.
At a deeper level, Vélez’s music plays upon our essential relationship with water, science, sound and technology. He never backs the music into a corner with an orgy of brutal noise. It may not be sedate – the music’s far too busy for that – but it is, for the most part, relaxed, inquisitive and light on its feet; there are only a couple of moments where the noise threatens to slice the fragile peace in two.
Darren McClure heads to cooler climes with Object Trio. Object Trio is obsessed with limitation. McClure proves that there really are no limits, even when you try to limit yourself. There are just three sources per track, and that’s all you need. The sources either come from an acoustic instrument or a non-musical object and are then rearranged and put back together, but it’s hard to tell one from the other. That is where the mastery lies. On ‘Object Trio 1’, you will hear a stone, a branch and a Tibetan singing bowl. On ‘Object Trio 2’, McClure used a rubber band, a lap harp and the sound of water.
Peaceful and yet experimental, McClure’s music hones in on an ambient, slightly eerie sound, the Blair Witch returning to her usual hunting ground. It’s minimal in its approach, but don’t be fooled – under its skin, the music shows symptoms of a complex, battle-worn personality that hides a constant, slithering experimentation at its core. The Tibetan bowl echoes in the distance, like a clash of stones reverberating in a never-ending forest. Pines hang above and the cool autumnal breeze floats in on a rumbling drone, chilling the wood with its pre-winter air. Chimes echo and spiral through an infinite age, an open ended chasm of sound that gushes through rocky jaws.
The music flows smoothly, easily. McClure joins one sound with another, forming subtle bridges and then travelling into another tone. The breeze is still here, a rhythmic breathing that comes and goes in steady swells. The music is meditative, just walking on by. Icelandic tones provide a cool jet of air, and, later, electronic sounds twinge and burst against the speakers. Like insects, they hover and dart, and we’re never really able to nail down their position. But they don’t knock the drone off course, nor do they damage its smooth, round surface. He takes non-musical items and makes them musical.
Music is everywhere. Music’s in everything.
Mc Clure’s soundscapes sway with a dream-like quality, and the style gradually shifts. What was once a fluid ambient environment becomes a sublime piece of art. Still, we never shake off that cooler feeling, the chill on the back of the neck as we sail off, leaving the whitecaps of the mind behind.