Statistique Synthétique / Teum (the Silvery Slit) is an earth-shaking release, its music riding the unstable grooves of tonal tectonic plates and hovering in and around a deeply divided space, where its electronics can be thought of as either anarchists or trendsetters.
The record reaches into the long history of computer sound synthesis while also seeming to split itself into the two divisive camps of either devolution or evolution, wherein computer-generated sounds are fused with resynthesized and situated texture recordings, some of which date back to the first decade of the new millennium, spanning different areas both geographically in recording location, and over the gulf of decades.
The resulting sound is coherent, even when it probably shouldn’t be. The assimilated sounds are uniform in tone and pace, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been moulded from a Frankenstein collection of sounds and clumped together from multiple years. Its features have remained largely the same, giving its sound a defined appearance instead of changing from one youthful snapshot to a lined and aged tone. Some of its sounds would feel right at home on an 8-bit Game Boy, riding tidal, retro rhythms of their own design, emanating from a garbled or debris-ridden motherboard but seeming to spurt forth an intelligent form of coded language all the same. True, much of its music sounds like it’s experiencing a short circuit or two, and one that it can’t recover from, but this is a part of its transformation; processing the change, some of its tones seeming to liquify, smoothing out glitch-infested areas of its system while also encouraging its skittery behaviour.
The restless nature of the music makes it all the more interesting, and the opening 25 minutes never feels like a slog, although, from time to time, it can feel like a full-on declaration of war. Some of its electronics are engaged in warfare, with screeching sound sources threatening to overwhelm and further destroy anything that resembles a cohesive melody.
Okkyung Lee’s Teum (the Silvery Slit), part of Re-Imagine Europe, and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, is a very different animal, sleeker and agile, but just as untameable as its predecessor. It slinks through its undergrowth with a selection of bare-boned and nimble sounds, capable of switching directions within the space of a second. The skeletal music, so much like frail fingernails tapping out a scurried rhythm against creaking wooden boards, introduces frazzled strings and other sounds which dart in and out; the music feels like a warning, somehow on edge.
Florian Hecker and Okkyung Lee have delivered a seismic, contrasting release. On one side, a tear is discovered in the lining of the Earth, a tension like an infection, beginning to blossom and radiate from a raw wound. On the other side, the electronic screeches resemble a spiral of pain and the spread of an out-of-control, digital virus. Both artists manifest these ideas within their music, birthing them into the reality of the world and setting them down on solid ground.