Objects, Masks, Props

Cat: NS3006 Release: 1 Jan 2008

“Objects.Masks.Props” is a collection of lucidly confusing places from Joel Stern, purveyor of various audio/visual underwater-improv delights including the beloved “Sunshine Has Blown” release on MYMWLY as well as countless other collaborations and exercises in processed technicolor. The clarity of composition in these affected field-recording cut-ups is astonishing even as the sense of place they contain is constantly erased under a barrage of electronic interference and instrumental damage, leaving a bewildering trail of utterly gorgeous elements interacting seemingly of their own accord.

Often a piece will enter with some bird calls, a barking dog or some other environmental touchstone and become ever more rotated by the skew of tonal appreciation, yet the layering doesn’t wipe the original source – or if it does, literally, then the lovely attention to detail which pervades all eight, relatively short, tracks allows the mood set by the opening gambit to flourish and dance with the incoming sonic apparitions, they in turn looking as much “back” to the trail of bleached air and painted leaves as “forward” as a record ineluctably must.

The record then, is on one level a quite beautiful experiment in 360º editing, as the temporal sense in these pieces is constantly swallowing its own movement, the juicy gulps of airborne feedback, melodica hum, mbira notes and concertina squeeze articulating the action with delicious acuity, playing with previous sounds and offering them up in a new light whilst moving by turns and loops into new territory.