Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nicholas Szczepanik - The Chiasmus [Basses Frequences/Sentient Recognition Archive]

All this time Nicholas Szczepanik spent putting about records from awesome artists like Caldera Lakes and Medroxy Progesterone Acetate on his Sentient Recognition Archive label, dude was hiding some serious sonic skills of his own. The Chiasmus, a handsomely packaged CD, marks Szczepanik's debut musical venture.
The first of five pieces, "Another End of New." opens with a cold gust of wind. The piece travels in near silence for a while before bursting forth with a indurate digital tone, slightly metallic and not quite smooth but still hypnotic. When you put the CD in a computer it comes tagged as easy listening. That's half right, the track consists of mellow drones but there's something a little bit cold and distant about them. No euphoric trips to the heavens here. Szczepanik expands the drone modestly with light touches of melody and rhythm. "We Define Everything in Desperation" changes the attitude considerably. It's a much softer piece with lovely gliding tones. As alluded to before, Szczepanik has a light touch when it comes to melodies. The melody is the most important part of the piece, but its so slight and ephemeral its almost subliminal. At one point there's a sample of someone speaking Spanish or something which segues back into the main melody. I don't get it but maybe Nicholas just wants to keep us on our toes. Like the previous track, Szczepanik elaborates slightly in the track's final minutes making "Desperation" one of the stand-outs for sure. The significantly longer piece "Temporary Inundation of Sleep by Open Windows" imbues smooth tones with an agile but subtle rhythm, making the piece weirdly groovy. Around halfway through the piece outside tones drift in, smothering the drones but also revealing more clearly the rhythmic thrust of the piece. The long drones contrast with the swift rhythmic figure highlighting all the subtle adjustments to the ghost beat. "The Silhouettes of a Winter's Sunset" begins slowly with a thin drone. Szczepanik works the barely there magic with more slender intimations of melodies and, despite the track's leisurely feel, it seems on the verge of something bigger. "Bigger" probably isn't the right word but the track does morph into the most shimmering soundscape of anything on the record. The hefty, 19 minute closer "Lose Yourself..." plays pretty typical of Szczepanik's style. A few drones, just this side of invisible, intertwine endlessly. It's a very protracted piece where Szczepanik's changes come so gradually they are nearly imperceptible. The back half of the track is more active, I think I might be even be hearing a vocal loop mixed up in a series new drones, but all the sounds are melted together thoroughly. How did I get from a few tones into this modest aural tapestry, I got no idea. Szczepanik will sneak up on you. And just to throw the listener for a loop before the curtain drops, Sczcepanik drops in a sudden, heavy dose of dry, agitated static making for a shocking exit from The Chiasmus's world.
This CD is definitely for someone really into drone and ambient musics willing to put in time to appreciate the album's subtleties. It's well-made but definitely a patient album.
The pro-everything CD comes shrinkwrapped and packaged with a booklet of angular photographs by Avery McCarthy, certainly a nice visual addition to the sounds.
It looks like it's still in-print from an edition of 500, though Sentient Recognition Archive's patented "availability" meter is pretty low. If you're in Europe it looks like you can still grab it from Basses Frequences as well.

No comments: