Release number seven on Wigan (UK) based experimental tape output Steep Gloss, comes in the form of ‘Can you ear me?’, a boundary-pushing seven track collaboration between interdisciplinary artist and musician Brandstifter and word-and-sound artist (Dirk) Huelstrunk, collectively known as Antibodies.
All seven tracks see Huelstrunk’s skittish poetry given centre stage, with Brandstifter creating a complementary soundscape each time, with the use of unusual instruments, erratic noises and rhythms. All culminating in what sounds like the inner ramblings of a psychotic state.
‘Send Receiver’ is a short intro track – a taste of what’s to come if you like. A strained spoken word beginning sweeps along with an under current of near acid like synth. A minute in, the words make way for the awakening of a sketchy orchestra, a variety of noises providing almost sensory overload. Title track ‘can you ear me?’ does an amazing job of building tension right from the off. A quiet, tribal-esque drum rhythm is solitary for around a minute, until Brandstifter again begins to introduce an array of conflicting noises with Huelstrunks input coming in the form of elongated oral drones. The ‘buzzing fly’ also adds another layer of unease.
‘Mic robes’ begins with an almost distressed sounding monologue, which progresses into manic laughter, with the accompanying soundtrack stripped back to an almost medical metronome. Calm before the storm perhaps?
Indeed. If the previous three tracks were good at building tension, then ‘dis cushion’ is all about uncomfortable apprehension. The ‘mad man’ has become angry and the solemn, somewhat contemplative monologues make way for screams, shouts and everything in between. Again the music is abstract and minimalist – doing an amazing job in providing a jittery backdrop to the intermittent ramblings.
‘Yesnow’ is slightly ‘calmer’, with Huelstrunk’s voice twisted and manipulated to create an array of noises and rhythms. ‘Flamengo’ rounds things off on a reflective, but sinister note. I love releases like this – where I find myself creating my own story in which the release soundtracks. ‘Can you ear me?’ allowed me to create my most vivid yet.
Steep Gloss is definitely a label to follow. Although only launching in December of last year, their output so far has consisted of some of the most weird and wonderful experimental music coming out of the UK at the moment. A perfect musical accompaniment to seemingly endless isolation!