HOW THINGS ARE MADE “Challenging Mud” C31 (Flag Day Recordings)

A couple things: How Things Are Made are wicked deconstructionists. The trio, Matt Aelmore, David Bernabo, and Brian Riordan, here challenge mud with Challenging Mud, a salvo aimed at convention, at the building blocks of human constitution, at the very substance that, when dry, you can build stuff on; but when it’s wet, watch out – it’s slippery and mucky and unstable a molecule being poked and prodded with scientific equipment. You can’t secure anything on it.

Or can you?

Also: “Devon Osamu Tipp Is Challenging Mud” sees the titular shakuhachi player join the HTAM crew for a live rendition of whatever the hell they want to do at a January 2019 performance in Pittsburgh. Talk about shifting: Tipp’s playing, which is also joined by Aelmore’s viola and trumpet, slides back and forth across an uneven surface, and these conventional instruments can’t find any purchase in a sea of synthesizer and “live processing” (the unstable waves undulate across the surface; the shakuhachi and trumpet become a gale). The thick brown currents overwhelm any vessel that tries to cross them, proving once and for all how dangerous it is to rely on them for anything. You can’t plan for the passage, it’s too unpredictable.

Also unpredictable? “Joshua Tenenbaum Delivers 10,000 Horses,” but this guest provides a twist – he’s only playing “cassette recorder, no input mixer.” What? Just kidding. You can do anything these days with any kind of sound source, just as me as I shriek into the toilet while recording it on the Garageband app on my iPhone. HTAM and Tenenbaum trade blurts of disturbing cacophony, rhythmic in some unspeakable nature, busy and odd and utterly fabulous. Like something out of last year’s Lärmschutz split series, “10,000 Horses” brings the best out of the collaborators as each one tries out outweird the other, with the audience emerging as the winners in this struggle for experimental supremacy.

Oh yeah, “10,000 Horses” was recorded live at The Space Upstairs in Pittsburgh in September 2018.

The third thing: This is available from Flag Day Recordings, one of Pennsylvania’s fine purveyors of exotic cassettes.