| eM:greater than zero, less than one|
(The Foundry - 1998)
greater than zero, less than one is, quite literally, computer music. Though the computer part is absolutely undeniable, the "musical" aspects may be debatable depending on the ear of the beholder. For open-minded experimentalist listeners, the voice from the machine can reveal mysterious insights.
Composed entirely on eM's G3 Powerbook, and built from computer-generated sound sources, these pieces explore the inner spaces of the invisible binary world, between zero and one. (When you're done here, see the Michael Bentley (aka eM) interview to learn more aout this recording, the circumstances around it and about the Foundry label and its assorted offerings.)
As 10 short seconds of silence, the content of opening track ZERO lives up to its name. ON is a selection of sparse electronic noise... a few blips and a channel-switching sound. Not much going on but enough to make you wonder what is going on. Entering on a louder zap, INTERLEAVED features a rhythm of sorts in the form of a repetitious electric cycle, which after your ears tune it out, forms a constant, static noise.
A very quiet, open space defines HOLLOW; almost silent for more than a minute, drones emerge in the distance. They remain tantalizingly far away, only tinting the soundwaves with their presence. TWINNED is another case of an electric pattern buzzing along, seeming very much like sounds from deep inside a computer's processes, though a bit erratic, too. SHAKER is noisier but interestingly so; a splooshy washing-machine-like churning of electrons is overlain with blasts and surges which sound like life within a miniature steel plant.
ENCIRCLED is the first ostensibly "musical" offering, though with the warbly, detuned notes (eventually forming a warbly, detuned chorus) not everyone would call it that. Spooky or annoying? It's your call.CROSSING is my personal favorite. Several elements combine to form an industrial-sounding piece. Add a beat and it could be a raw NIN track... COARSE again sounds like something recorded inside a tiny blast furnace, with oboe loops occasionally burbling over the top.
Quiet left-to-right blips announce the arrival of FIRMAMENT; the track is bathed in muted layers of tuba-ish tones, the type of off-key sounds which simulate drunkeness in the cartoons. CAST shines with a definite rock-and-roll attitude, as a powerful (yet subdued) strain of feedback blares and arpeggiates, interfused with soft, wary passages. At 7:36, OCCASIONAL clocks in as the long-runner. A half-buzz/half bleep tempo-shifting rhythm is dominated by a dual assault of processer-powered wails from computer saxophones.
CHASM spans a dreary and ominously quiet void. Though the sporadic static reminds you this is purely electronic, there is a spacious, outdoorsy sense, albeit of a (very nicely) gloomy nature. Thick, echoey tones churn like submerged windchimes. TANGLED turns up the noise quotient, with bleeps, squalls, buzzes and static interference. At 18 seconds of soft noise, I'm not sure what CODA represents. We reach our destination with the 9-second solid tone that is ONE.
|As far as music, you probably won't be popping this disc in at your next party, but for an episode of experimental electronic introspection, greater than zero, less than one can take you deep into the silicon valleys... and is perhaps best listened to through your computer for that total computerrific experience!|