M - [ B ]

by John Wall

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M - B version 1 is structurally quite conventional with its occasional romantic synth chords and climatic ending.While M - B version 2 is an heavily edited computer improvisation using the same sound material as used in in M - B version 1.
Version 1 was mastered by Paul Richardson
Version 2 was mastered by Jacques Beloeil

M – [B] continues a seam in Wall’s music developed in his recent collaborations with Alex Rodgers, Rafia Longer and Soar, that calls, unexpectedly for a composer whose earlier work mines the exquisite corpse of twentieth-century modernism, on the tonal and sonic language of dance music. Like those works with Rodgers (those saccharine stabs that open Soar’s ‘Unitywoods’, which is, of course, a pop song), M – [B] might even be funny: there is a lightness to it, a generous humour.
Wall proceeds in the opposite direction to that taken by a significant tendency in the dance music of the last decade. Rather than pushing out from within, stretching the formal, rhythmic and harmonic language of dance music to abstraction, Wall renders his materials illegible, divorcing them from the macro- and micro rhythmic articulations of the dancefloor: builds, breaks and drops. The materials are made to stumble. This opacity or illegibility is like that found in collage, which, for example, asks that one sees a sheet of newspaper as a block of colour. The initial obviousness—cliché, legible to the point of redundancy—quickly turns to an obviousness that stands in the way, that interrupts the mechanism by which it stands for something else (a formal component, a plane, a shape). No sign of the “crossover”, then; rather, a burrowing, a slow and long excavation of detritus. The relations of minority and majority are inverted: this isn’t an outsider inhabiting an alien language, like, famously, Kafka or Beckett; it speaks with the syntax of one language and the vocabulary of another. Neither remain intact.
On Version 1, details flicker and punch a still surface of shifting chords, gestures expand and contract, sediment and rush off. On Version 2 those chords are displaced into the hinterland by broiling surges, half-rhyming repetitions that suggest ways forward, or out, take them up ever so slowly then abruptly change pace, or abandon them altogether. Two pieces, one an improvisation on the material of the other. But, as with any of Wall’s music, to speak in terms of priority or originality never really makes any sense: this is one of the ways in which his music has always been more than a late modernism, or rather, that disjunctive lateness means it’s always something else, too. Even the word “version” calls to mind a root(s)less history of dub and sampling at which Wall’s music obliquely glances: the sound of endless revisions—no Works, just Work.
So if the triadic harmonies sound like another world in comparison with the piercing, razor-thin sines of the turn-of-the-millennium discs, they’re still difficult, if difficulty is an opacity or enigmaticalness to be reckoned with. Which is also an opening, a generative productivity.
Review by Sam Ridout

Sam Ridout writes about and composes electronic music. His new release " Aspect Spur Disjecta " is now available here


released May 3, 2020


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