Saturday, August 26, 2017

JERMAN • BARNES “Karst” (Astral Spirits/Monofonus Press)




Jeph Jerman and Tim Barnes are electroacoustic savants. KARST is two sides, three tracks, recorded in Cottonwood (AZ) and Louisville (KY), but the sound may as well have been captured on another planet. “Scumbling” isn’t even a real word! Yet here Jerman and Barnes are, using it like it’s something that’s in everybody’s everyday vocabulary. Maybe it should be. Maybe it’s in Jerman and Barnes’s. But until we get the good folks at Oxford or Merriam-Webster to listen to us, we’re stuck with the weird and exotic. Frequently thrilling, “Scumbling” has no interest in staying still or hovering over one musique concréte idea until it’s bored us half to death. No, the terrain the duo covers is wildly interesting, and again, it does not seem of this earth. “Occluded” is a dark, less active passage, with spikes of sound here and there – the meaning here, in this track, is hidden, obstructed, blocked, and other synonyms for “Occluded.” Still, it will wash over you, like darkness, darker than a black steer’s tuckus on a moonless prairie night, if I may paraphrase and/or quote a popular adage. But “Karst” itself is a tone poem of literal tone, stretching for almost twelve minutes, doing its damnedest to keep the other noises scuffling around beneath it in the background. “Karst” the track, the sound, is “Occlud[ing]” the “Scumbling,” if you get my meaning. And I know that you do. And you know Astral Spirits – if you like them and you like the field-recording-meets-studio-manipulation that Jerman • Barnes are slinging, you’ll find KARST to be right up your alley. No matter what planet you’re on.

Astral Spirits/Monofonus Press

--Ryan Masteller