In just 10 releases over the past four years, Manchester’s Sferic label has established a remarkably cohesive identity, defined, ironically, by the virtual absence of identifying characteristics. On the records of Space Afrika, Jake Muir and Perila, among others, Sferic has developed an amorphous approach to the ambient, gently but firmly pulling the music of any vestigial new-age connotation and pushing it into a nebulous space where certainties meet. dissolve. The label’s releases form a blurry lens on muffled synthesizers, spongy textures and indistinct field recordings, all obscured under layers of reverb and hiss. The resulting shapes resemble collections of objects buried under fresh snowfall, their outlines barely visible, their origins clearer. The more you listen to a given Sferic output, the less obvious it becomes which parts have been played or programmed and which are pure fluke. The label’s releases tend to suggest a similar line of research: how flexible are the seams between order and disorder, or intention and chance?
The TIBSLC in Leipzig is a perfect match for Sferic. Its name is short for “The International Billionaire’s Secret Love Child,” the kind of nickname you might expect to find attached to a third-rate ska-punk band, or perhaps a signature Grand Royal who didn’t. was never close to reclaiming his lead. But his music in recent years, mostly self-produced, bears no resemblance to the associations the alias might conjure up. It is a speckled expanse of shimmer and buzz: light as a sigh, speckled like a bruise, comfortable and unsettling in equal measure.
Deceptive Language Changes – Situation Based Compositions, TIBSLC’s debut album for Sferic, begins and ends with the sound of flowing water, like melting snow rushing over mountain boulders. It is an effective framing device: between these two liquid bookends, the album plunges us into a swirling expanse of constant movement and mutation. The opening “Soft Afternoon Pressure” introduces the sounds and techniques that will play out throughout the album. Muted synth chords roll in waves, joining together in a sort of tidal call and response. Tiny clicking sounds like pebbles in the surf. Indistinct voices lead a private conversation, like a radio heard through a neighbor’s walls. As the track buzzes, there is a gradual, almost imperceptible build-up reminiscent of the tuning of an orchestra, except that instead of the instruments there is only running water. , wind in the dry grass, cicadas and an electric hum.
Almost all of the tracks appear to have been made with the same basic tools. The record is awash with clusters of indistinct tones, out of sync pulses and sparkling sizzle – an abundance of downy chaos. âExtended Stay of Blue Skyâ begins with what might be a vinyl crackle; âNightmodeâ bathes in a phosphorescent glow. Even at its most peaceful, however, there is a feeling of irreconcilable tension at the heart of the music. TIBSLC agreements rarely resolve properly; it is even difficult to analyze their precise composition, given the brilliant harmonics which bristle skyward, blurring the intervals between notes. Everything is enveloped in a sort of arctic glare, like a halo around the sun on a foggy day.
It is not necessarily difficult to create background music that tumbles, like a lava lamp, through a succession of ever-changing cotton candy shades. Every week, it seems, a new wellness app promises an AI-generated soundtrack designed not only to erase its creator’s fingerprints, but also to make you forget you’re listening to music. . None of these proposals, frankly, have ever sounded terribly appealing. What brings me back to the music of TIBSLC is the feeling that there is something After there, something just beyond my perception. The buried voices and the buzz of ubiquitous insects give the impression that there are hidden messages encoded in the din; the drone suggests an overabundance of information that resists decryption.
Listen deep enough in the dark, and some of TIBSLC’s weirdest sounds – the chatter of aviary gossip, the song of crossed whales with hissing bottle rockets – begin to reveal their secrets. There are cryptic rhythms in almost every level of music: galloping sub-bass pulses, filters that open and close like a bellows, the accelerated click of a fallen quarterpiece that comes to a stop. Countless floating impulses are in play at all times, speeding up and slowing down, trills and thrills, giving movement and purpose to seemingly static sounds. No matter how freely the music seems to drift, there is no doubt that there is a guiding hand behind it; What else could explain this strange space where the natural and the synthetic mix in such a transparent and unpredictable way? There are entire worlds to explore in the mysterious tangle of textures and sensations of TIBSLC, and they are teeming with life.
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