Artist: PAS Musique
Title: Abandoned Bird Egg
Label: Alrealon Musique
Keywords: Abstract, Experimental, Soundscapes
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
The people at Alrealon Musique were so nice as to send me several CDs for review… this is one of them, the one that I instinctively felt drawn to review first. I dug around so as to learn more about the object of my analysis and came across this intriguing artist profile:
“PAS is a group out to create musical collages through the form of abstract sound. Their name refers metaphorically to those who have been aborted by society, because their point of view doesn’t fit in the constraints of ‘normal’ society. The term also refers the negative form in French, metaphorically negating everything that is established to start from a new beginning. The viewpoint fuels our creativity to create our own world of beauty. Since our inception the band has been interested in making music from the fringes of perception, creating soundscapes that aren’t defined by any particular conventions or viewpoints. The aesthetic underpinnings are defined by the notion that music can be whatever the ear perceives. It’s a conception fueled by the love of life and art. It’s a desire for honest artistic self-expression. The compositions themselves are more akin to soundscapes than ‘songs’ in the traditional sense. There are no clearly defined melodies, no structural landmarks that give you any sense of traditional anchor. This is not music making with any sense of or desire for commercial viability, but sonic sculptures in the mode of pure art.”
… that sold me on the artist’s concepts, as I found a lot of parallels between these descriptions and my own art and feelings toward art, the objective of chasing, exploring, expressing the beautiful from within the damaging, nihilistic acultural conveyor belt void so many of us seem to reside in. Anyway…
The first track is ‘Commercial Space’, which begins with what sounds like a vocal sample with lots of vibrato, making me think of… maybe a Massacration track being destructively mangled with effects. Some low noise drones come in, followed by a beep tone that slides up and down. Then there’s this sickly acid bassline sequence that’s wonderful. I’m quite sure it’s not a 303, some other machine maybe… something dirty, gritty. I can hear guitar shredding away… and then, when the electro/industrial rhythm came in, I was pretty much like… this is amazing. Very twisted, impossible to not feel absorbed in the gritty electro pulse of this music. I love first tracks on albums that are like this, instantly nailing you to your seat (or the floor, as the case may be)… less like one of those introductory wanks, like “Hey, here’s a small sample of the sort of sounds you might be hearing as we go further into the album” but just full-on, uncompromising art from the second you put it on. These disturbing voices are floating around while you listen, nearly throughout. Very low, subliminal, deep, reminding me a little of the experience I’d had the first time I listened to Download’s The Eyes Of Stanley Pain. It’s just very mental, inducing trance.
Next is ‘The Light Inside’. It sounds like old synthesizer ambiance recorded to tape, then a clipping 16th/step rhythmic noise comes in over it. I hear someone moving the resonance knob… it sounds like cryptic wind. This is very psychedelic / experimental / heavy, with a vibe like many old industrial cassettes. Severed heads also came to mind, but I couldn’t find the right tracks on Youtube to link. 😛 It sounds like electronic maggots; larval sequences hook themselves into your bowels like so many worms. The track utilizes simple, repetitive structures, over which various noises and synthetic drones are laid. I love the way the rhythmic clipping manifests itself, mutating slightly over the course of the track. Static and strange electronic tones become thick through the tail end of the piece.
‘Something Indescribable’? I hope not, or I’ll have to just leave it at this! According to the inner package of the album, this track is one of two that uses samples from ‘Audrey Rose’, a film directed by Robert Wise in the year 1977. I hear an onrush of electronic tones and a voice talking about… something indescribable… and incredible… liquid electronics, drones, vacuum tubes, something that sounds like a guitar with treatments. This is like an ocean on an alien planet, a mindstream. You feel like leaving the body behind to travel in a virtual reality computer realm of infinite possibilities, or something like that.
My favourite track on the album is probably ‘Modern Witchcraft’, which begins with what sounds like a field recording from a greasy spoon diner dishpit, and throws in a vocal sample, these beautiful splashes of electronic arp chords, and then there’s a nice pulsating electro groove and some lovely vocals. This is lay on the floor with a blanket in a cold room music, contemplating getting up to grab something small to eat but not wanting to leave for even a moment because this track suddenly came on. Everything about this is something I like. The modulated guitar sound is very nice too, adding body to the piece, but the vocals were the part that made the track seem super special and cosmic. Toward the end I’m hearing all kinds of buzzing drones floating around, abstractions, an acoustic guitar.
The title of the next track, ‘Esoteric Funk Classic’, had me very excited to hear what might happen! But wait… it’s a trap! I’m hearing a goat man, then I’m hearing wind, then eventually alien abduction drones. Stomping electro bass, electronic crickets, theremin tones, some Moog bass after a bit. It’s really great. Now I’m hearing liquid drones, a choir pad creeping into the mix, some bell tones. Hot, distorted guitar amp frequencies are like a tiny voice in the central channel attempting to burrow their way into your frontal lobe. This gets absolutely nuts, like a science fiction android on the fritz, thinking it’s a ’70s porn star and attempting to mount your sofa.
I hear bass guitar and ambient drone harmonics on ‘Dark Canopy’! So nice! The sounds seem to be undergoing some intense noise or lfo modulation. Now I just hear flatly gorgeous waterfall synths, but the spell is broken by the siren call of a screaming synthesizer, the refracted sounds of tribal percussion, chirping gnat synths, an IBM drone in an absolutely sick frequency band range. Some guitar feedback comes in to throw me for another loop. This is the sort of thing I could so easily imagine someone haplessly wandering into from out of the land of the mundane and asking, “What are you listening to?”… and there could be no easy answer to this. There almost never is, but this in particular confounds all attempt at explanation. I would maybe chance saying “art” and leaving it at that. Do I hear bagpipes? They were only there for a moment, and now I hear nothing but drone.
‘You Are Who You Are’. On this, I hear a voice, sounding like a tribal chant, being cut up, timed gaps help reveal the bizarre electronic sounds underneath. Then some electric guitar comes in, I’m hearing voice samples… this is another intensely psychotropic mindscape, meant to blow whatever is left of your brain up it’s nose. Right now I feel as if I am on the world’s slowest-moving merry-go-round. But I, too, am in slow motion. Lovely little beep tone synth flutes are singing. We’re going so slow that our perception of time has flipped around to make it seem as if we are moving faster than light. Then we come back to the same ritualistic soundscape that the track began with.
I hear birds on ‘Humor In The Quarry’, it is like a whistling sound otherwise if I was mistaken. It also sounds like there is a low threshold of white or pink noise lurking in the background, harmonic distortion from a field recording perhaps? I hear a low, distorted bass throb, some stick percussion, alien zoo sounds. Then a deep, electro rhythm emerges. It’s like palm trees on Neptune. There seem to be vocals, more hushed, whispered than anything, but occasionally a pitch is sustained in the background as the wild soundscapes evolve and sounds multiply like amoeba. I love the tightly controlled electronic glitches that occur on this track, as well as on several others.
Very tribal beginnings which are taken to heavily modulated voice samples and noise drones on ‘The Strobe Wheel’, which instantly makes me think of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs’ Dream Machine. There’s a downtempo electro groove that comes in, and layers of electronic feedback drones, more alien oddities as far as the sounds are concerned! A toy bell rings. There are rhythmic, distorted tones like congas sounding off occasionally in dizzying patterns.
The final piece is ‘Abandoned Bird Egg’, which begins with violin? Viola? There are also vocal samples — I’m assuming these must be the samples spoken of in the liner notes culled from the film ‘Audrey Rose’. There is also a strange ambient guitar loop. White noise grows louder, and I hear a crunchy distorted guitar sound. Choirs from beyond the conventions of time. I hear a distorted bird call as well… vibrating drones… I feel like I’m surrounded by sky and unable to tell up from down. Bizarre mechanical ambiance eventually enters as well.
I really loved this album, on so many levels. These people are masters of their techniques, putting together some very interesting sounds with absolutely mindbending and exhilarating structures and ontologically alien moods. You can buy an Abandoned Bird Egg of your own to hatch at the link below: