Friday, July 9, 2010

Spheruleus - "Decompose" Review by Fluid Radio team

REVIEW ON FLUID RADIO, BY ALEX GIBSON:"When dealing with a release structured solely around the concept of physical disintegration, it would be a fair assumption that the material would be foreboding and gloomy – but not so on the album ‘Decompose’ by Spheruleus, recently released on Audio Gourmet. Based around the idea of organisms of all types breaking down into another form over time, the eight tracks are thematically constructed from what appear to have been carefully built loops and layers of field noise. These are in turn deconstructed in a process of “decomposition”, forming new pieces in their own right.
Proceedings open with “Corroding”, which sets the stage for the hour to follow. Both cavernous and aquatic, it introduces the mood and tone of the layers used in all tracks. The texture sounds are gritty without being abrasive, and are used to good effect in creating an environment best appreciated through headphones late at night. What appear to be guitar notes chime in a circular motif throughout, creating a subtle melody blending with well placed layers that rise and fall in both sides of the speakers.
As the process of disintegration is a long and slow one, most pieces are aptly lengthy, most being the best part of ten minutes each – the size of each track really captures the listener, and the album as a whole represents a real journey that envelops and commands attention. It wasn’t until the third or fourth listen that I even registered the absence of a defined bottom end – which is an entirely appropriate decision by the artist, given the subject matter. An exploration of graceful degradation rightly should not carry too much weight?

A few of the standout tracks are “Decay” – an even and percussive pulse which hints at a crescendo never quite arriving, swaying with well placed guitar flares, micro noise and almost perceptible layers. “Disintegrate” conjures an image of time lapse film of fallen birds becoming one with the earth, and “Recycling” alternates between metallic and organic tones – you can hear the fingerprints on the empty drink cans as they’re sorted to be melted down, moving towards the furnace.

Harry Towell and his brother Stuart have developed between them a statement on the ephemeral and transitory nature of the world we move in today.
Audio Gourmet’s recent releases have been based around the concept of “teabreak” length listens, slices of music that can be digested in 15 minutes or less – this represents a move towards “lunchbreak” length portions of music of an hour or more. The teabreak EP’s have been free downloads, however the “Decompose” project is a paid download due to the seemingly considerable time and effort that has gone into producing it. It’s as good a 5 pound download as one could hope to find as well, with striking cover art by French artist Eric Lacombe (Monstror). It’s available in the multiple file types (lossless included) that you’d expect from Bandcamp. It come up well in the 320k MP3 files I grabbed, but would doubtless shine even brighter as FLAC.
“Decompose” sat well in most environments – it was the first thing I listened to in the morning, and steadied my nerves before a demanding day at work – it wiped it away once I was done, and was also worthy of the complete attention given to it late at night. I’m uncertain as to how it was mastered, but it plays well both in headphones and hitting the air. It also displays one of the traits that good records possess – it changes form with every listen, and by concentrating on one particular part of the spectrum, another part displays itself in a way that it hadn’t previously.
As the tracks have been developed out of musical parts that have been treated and broken down, they retain a hint of their former shape. There’s a lot of implied melody, where after you’ve finished listening you’re left with a phrase that wasn’t actually there, but was a combination of parts operating in tandem to create the part in between your ears.
Can’t wait for the next one."

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