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Decibel – Stasis Ecstatic

Thursday 29th November / presented by Adam Trainer

Review by Adam Trainer

Heartless Robot

Decibel continue their work at the forefront of new music and compositional innovation with this lovingly packaged and gorgeously presented gatefold LP. With comprehensive liner notes explaining the processes behind each piece, Stasis Ecstatic offers further proof of Decibel’s ability to create previously unimagined sound worlds through patience and restraint.

On Cat Hope’s ‘Longing’ the gently ascending and descending strains of string and wind instruments, and Hope’s own voice create a brooding, unsettling journey. Painting some desolate landscape through drone, the piece works itself into a puzzling staccato section before returning to the elongated drone dynamics with which it began, albeit in an even darker and more disturbing manner.

If Hope’s piece kicks things off with a somewhat sinister tone, Malcolm Riddock’s piece ‘Variations on Electroacoustic Feedback’ works within a slightly less bleak sonic palette, even if it’s just as foreign. Like the sonic equivalent of an alien atmosphere, on Riddock’s piece cello, flute and feedback jostle back and forth, with each claiming its own distinct place in the frequency spectrum. The resulting piece is ghostly, haunting and exquisitely hypnotic.

Lindsay Vickery’s ‘Ghosts of Departed Quantities’ offers a more playful and lush incantation on the themes and atmospheres delivered on the first two pieces. More random, organic and unpredictable than either of the two pieces that open the record, the audible clicks of clarinet rub up against barely there piano notes as well as the persistent buzz of a flute and various other forms of ephemeral feedback.

Julian Day’s ‘Beginning To Collapse’ starts side two with the least immediately recognizable thing on the record – a huge rolling ball of sound that much like a massive moving structure is monolithic and imposing. Its structureless massmakes great use of the stereo field before an insistent random pulse breaks through the gloom.

Stuart James’ ‘Particle 1’ is arguably the most obtuse piece on the record. Gently oscilating sine waves give way to random percussive bursts that break through before melting into a rumble of electro-acoustic feedback. Meanwhile ‘Alan Lamb’s ‘The Infinity Machine’ offers swooping and craning electrical tones that hover like magnetic birds before descending into mechanical buzz.

It’s safe to say that there’s no one in the country, perhaps the world doing the kinds of things with traditional instrumentation that Decibel are doing, let alone with new compositional structures and methods of sound generation. Stasis Ecstatic is an exemplary collection of pieces illustrating the sheer limits of sound, and the rewards that can be reaped by those with the requisite patience and open-mindedness required from such exploratory approaches to sound.

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