Music Reviews

Artist: Alex Durlak
Title: Seconds
Format: 12"
Label: Komino (@)
Rated: *****
On the "dark side" of this release on white vinyl, Canadian composer Alex Durlak decided to refer to the title of the last act of his tryptich (being the first two releases "Catalyst" on the Rural Routes series and "Lowing" on Audio Gourmet) by quoting a suggestive excerpt from the short ghost-story "A Haunted Island" by English novelist Algernon Henry Blackwood: "For the space of a hundred seconds there was silence, such as might have existed before the birth of sound.'. I'm not sure about the relation between this literary reference and Durlak's sound art, but I can conjecture it's not only related to the above-mentioned novel, whose absorbing descriptions - not so different from some masterpieces by Lovecraft, whose quality normally gets acknowledged by readers who are not lovers of that kind of prose writing - focus on aural perceptions, but also to Blackwood's poetics: even if that talented writer signed many horror stories, he belongs to that kind of storyteller whose aim doesn't seem to be frightening readers, but indeed arousing astonishment in them. Durlak's electric guitar-driven 20-minutes lasting track has similar properties: the piercing sonic curls seems to tangle on a low-frequency creepy tone, so that it seems they shape a sort of sonic corroded drone, which is going to chill and charm listeners as they're compelled to watch scary abstract shapes within darkness after a spinal anaesthesia. Even if Alex Durlak follows a quite simple compositional process ("Seconds" has been recorded in one improvised take through realtime processing of guitar, suing granular synthesis techniques), the final result really scores.

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