|Asher - Instability - 4.1 DVD - Leerraum [ ]
BGN, WHITE_LINE, 2008.
Asher’s name should now be becoming more familiar to those of us that pay repeat visits to the more prominent labels on the minimalist scene, as his works have been showcased on several labels, great and good. This would be his second foray for leerraum [ ], and is perhaps one of his more difficult works. Instability is a rough hewn, textural foray, shored up by the occasional sub bass, or tonal intervention, but in essence, this is a gristly fabric, that froths and foams like gently boiling tarmac, a shifting surface that appears consistent, yet is constantly in flux, with subtle gestures, movements and overtones.
Asher plays with this oblique textural field, interfacing the surface dynamics with raw organic elements, alternating the sounds that appear in the foreground of the overall mix. Later chapters see further reduction and distillation, spaces where silence and activity are given equal importance within the context of the pieces, and I would hesitantly guess that some subtractive equalisation has taken place, as some of the sequences are marked by absences, rather than presences. These ghostly agglomerations of non-activity, are displaced, and ethereal events that have become subjected to a process of gradual erasure, or subtle withdrawal, and what we experience are the surface impressions of what remains.
Instability sees Asher becoming a “quietist” in much the same way that many have attempted recently, reducing his sounds to the barest elemental parts, paring away anything that would appear intrusive or overblown. In the hands of a lesser artist, this form of quietism can sometimes become a little heavy handed, but Asher has the aesthetic deliberation and rigour that can capably handle nuance without making it sound contrived, or overworked. Not an easy listen by any means, but a serious and considered piece of audio art worthy of an inspired publisher such as leerraum [ ].
Asher - Instability
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 2009
The inexhaustibly productive man from Massachusetts is here pictured, sonically speaking, in a rather dissimilar context that nonetheless confirms all the exemplary characteristics of his music without renouncing to quality, not even an ounce of it. The essential constituents of Instability a very extensive cycle at circa 146 minutes on audio DVD, divided into different tracks of variable length - are two. The first is a gradual succession of digitized abrasiveness, a virtual blinding light amidst a scorching tempest of vapours, almost inconspicuous at times then coming dangerously close with the elapsing of time, hissing and sibilating as a boa ready to suffocate the victim. The second, kind of a mirage in between the ebbing-and-flowing waves of static noise, is a barely shifting whisper of synthetic tones, a handful of frail chords attempting to break a cocoon, then inevitably erased by the brutality of the rough wind. The image that comes to mind is a pair of eyes desperately trying to keep watching an unfolding scene while someone tries to impede the act by throwing copious handfuls of burning sand in the unfortunate’s face. The large part of the record is based upon this tangential consecutiveness, as inevitable as the incessant visual rhythm of the signs on the asphalt of a highway at 80 mph, only allowing the contemplation of the remnants of an oppressive past as the future is already ruthlessly looking at people’s illusions. This goes on - with some variation, including bursts of differently tinged frequencies like the wonderful hum starting in the fourth movement - in every subsequent chapter and, at last, the piece reaches its definitive conclusion as the sounds fade away regretfully, suggesting an infinite rainbow arc deprived of the most vivid nuances (despite the appearance of somewhat ghostly birds somewhere in the background after the halfway point). Perfect for use as installation in your home: play loud enough and the title will turn to be revelatory about its meaning, especially with windows open. As always, the mental composure deriving from near-stillness and the feel of apprehensive waiting appear like no self-quoting pun intended - touching extremes.