base material

In the 8 relatively short tracks that make up Base Material, “atmosphere” is the name of the game. The album occupies the intersection between dark ambient, drone, and musique concrete. The CD’s opening track “Base Material,” is a dense slab of atmospheric bass rumblings. At times it’s almost imperceptible what’s going on in this track, but make no mistake, even in the absence of any discernible sounds the rattling of your speakers do not lie. It almost feels like just a prelude, an intro to a series of unfolding events, rather than a solitary track. And perhaps that’s the point. The next track “Fragment” follows a similar trajectory, though with some noticeable dark misty loops, and some faint ringing.
“Solidification” gives me the same vibes I’ve experienced listening to Buddhist monastic music. There are no discernible chants or gongs, but they’ve managed to take those elements and blur them into a satisfying musique concrete stew. Of course I couldn’t remain entranced too long, as some broken static disrupts the meditative currents. Broken static gives way to what sounds like nails on a chalk board….tapping and scratching. Some additional radio static and scumbling fuzz carry us through the track’s end.
The aptly titled “Reversed Words” delivers hollow, cylindrical reverberations, played ostensibly backwards. Within the piece we are also greeted with a thin buzz that grows into frenzied, insectoid chirpings. Some analog hiss and denser electronic buzzings are added toward the track’s end for good measure.
“Whispers” is a chilling little number that manages to create the effect of whispering apparitions as we travel down a dark corridor. It’s a dense atmospheric fog that the collaborators create and it’s easily my favorite track on the disc. Just when you think you’re going to be sucked into the spirit realm, looping synth pulses intertwine with futuristic synth sounds. Twinkly sci-fi bits pepper the new soundscape, and a low end rumble is added for further effect. The penultimate “Material and Memory” is built around a muffled static fuzz that is greeted midway with synthy waves heading in reverse. Finally we reach “Imago,” which opens with some squelchy sounding synth blobs and other electronic oddities. Electronic musings give way to rustlings of metal debris to carry us through the disc’s final conclusion.
Kikuchi and Olive manage to deliver a highly satisfying album that brings together many elements I love to hear. The relative brevity of the tracks plays to their strengths. Whereas I can imagine a lot of artists getting carried away with this material, crafting endless tracks that could crawl at a glacial pace, the artists here edited these pieces perfectly. Each piece “is” just the perfect length and does just enough within the confines of 3-4 minutes, to execute their artistic visions. Well played!
(Musique Machine, Hal Harmon)