Monday, November 15, 2010

BERBER OX "Minor Tranquilisor" c56 [Stunned]


The title of this brand new tape on Stunned is no joke. Berber Ox is a project of Aussie David Rutledge and his tape delivers some serious "tranquilisation" divied out at a glacial pace.
The first of the four pieces "The Sister Phase" is by far the chilliest of the tape. And I mean fuckin' freezing! The damn thing could put you into some kind of hypothermic coma. Don't take that the wrong way as this piece is very engaging, but it gives you that pins and needle feeling you get when exposed to extreme cold. Overall, Rutledge devises an extremely minimal composition, employing only a couple oh-so-important drones. From there though, Rutledge will occasionally drop in manipulated tones that don't disrupt the heavy zone going on, but in fact intensify it. Some seriously expert drone work here! The second track, "Circadian," totally changes things up with a field recording of what sounds like walking through a quiet market or something. There are some foreign-language pop songs, motorcycles revving, people chattering. What I really love about the piece is it sounds like there is actual movement here; for instance, one song will come through loud and clear and gradually disappear as other sounds clutter the headphones and without noticing it another song will become barely audible and slowly come into focus. I don't know if the recordist physically moved through the sounds while recording or if it's just a great editing job but it's effective either way.
The flipside features the drones, muffled speech and distant thumping drums of "Carry Only the Money." There's a loud creaking chair of all things that pops up early in the piece leading to a small explosion of field recordings of whats like people moving stuff around. If you ever longed for a soundtrack to your move, here it is! After lots more chattering, Rutledge shifts things into an impenetrable looming wall of drones. Rutledge bookends the tape with another straight drone track, the final piece, "Kali Star."
Very cool tape. Recommended for fans of patient, minimal drones or extensive field recordings. And if you dig both then check this out pronto.
This also has some of Phil French's best artwork yet, all colored pencil too!