Momentary Masters Of A Fraction Of A Dot by Jonas Gustafsson & Simon Underwood #electronic

Electroacoustic noise this morning along with the word ‘art’ from Jonas Gustafsson and Simon Underwood.

I’ve never disguised my anti-art prejudices when it comes to music. All too often the ruiner of a good tune. But setting aside my beard stroking prejusices let’s challenge ourselves with this double CD release from Jonas and Simon (albeit that makes them sound like a folk duo). We’re in the arena of microtonal sounds, expermentation and art soundscapes. This is an album built on “discussions and anguish taking place over a period of several rainy winter and spring months.” Not a dance round your manbag kind of album then.

Deptford is an unlovely part of South East London though now up and coming (if not already here). It’s by the river in its more silty phase and around the confluence of railways. The album was recorded in a railway arch space in Deptford early 2017. It has all that siltiness and Victorian ‘coming of the railways’ built into the tracks. Trains screech round curves. There is the lost industrial history in all manner of hissing, creaking and clanking. The credits to the album even offers among the players “Southeastern and Chatham Railway: ambience” which is a company that hasn’t existed for the best part of a 100 years.

There is also the coming loss of the UK’s European history (aka Brexit) is evident in the range of European languages used for track titles. But art and archness are also here in track titles such as Umringt Von Gleichgültigkeit Erfinde Ich Sinn (tr. Surrounded by indifference I invent meaning), Déclassement, En Trois Parties: I. Bombes Lointaines (tr. Decommissioning, in three parts: I. Distant bombs), Držková Polievka (tr. Tripe soup). But there’s also whimsy from Never Spit In A Man’s Face, Unless His Moustache Is On Fire, In An Argument With Pigs Over The Price Of Pork and the closer Märk Hur Vår Tystnad… (tr. Note how our silence…).

A musical review is tricky for such a concept. We’re way beyond that here. Opening pair Never Spit In A Man’s Face, Unless His Moustache Is On Fire and Držková Polievka offer the industrial place of the album before Zwischenwelt (tr. Between world) offers something approaching a drone ambient track. Ultimately, the industrial electronic fizzing returns as we contemplate the Déclassement, En Trois Parties trilogy.

The almost soothing Gleðitár is followed by the first properly unlistenable track Alter Schwede (Interrupted Reception). Things return to a disorientating ‘normality’ on the Sostanza Zero duet.

Perception is all here. Coming in to Oszczędź Mnie! my son said is that whistling R2D2? Perhaps it is, given that “hacked toys” form part of the instrumentation.

The album title Momentary Masters Of A Fraction Of A Dot is a philosophical reflection on the world of Lego. It reflects that we all want to play but can’t. It’s worshiping the awesome power of a single dot to connect brick to brick and person to person. Not really. I think it’s a Carl Sagan quote about the planet and how we squabble over something so small in cosmic terms. And that’s the album in a nutshell. It recognises the vastness and infinity of everything with the futility and frustration of everyday existence.

If this floats your boat you should note it comes in a limited edition of 55 CDs for only £13 (now 54 copies, as I bought one).

~ by acidted on August 23, 2018.

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