Review: Wilder Gonzales Agreda – Scala Mega Hertz

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The pieces almost fit. Like a word that poises itself on the tip of the tongue, teetering on the edge of conscious recollection, Scala Mega Hertz is one vital piece away from becoming totally comprehensible. Throbs of electronics and vocal loops dance around the perimeter of the beats but refuse to fully align, stumbling just out of step with the downbeat while staying close enough so that I can hazily envisage what the fully-calibrated manifestation would sound like. Electronic drones are sent streaming through the gaps created by rhythmic asymmetry, peering over the brink of conclusive cadences, waiting for the record’s inner epiphany to reveal itself. Agreda terms himself a “spacey non-musician”, although this is undoubtedly a non-music of deliberate sabotage as opposed to creative naivety. In other words, what makes Scala Mega Hertz so potent is how teasingly it toes the boundary between the “non” and the “music”, which is only made possible through an acute topographical understanding of the latter.

Atmospherically, the record reminds me of a blur between two different phases of science fiction: the richly-illustrated rockets and hulking space stations of the 70s and 80s (angular synthesiser bleeps, horizon-sweeping phasers) and the bionic realities of the modern day (digital devices communicating with human breath and sonic markers of flesh). Opening track “Scala” centres on a looped human vowel, around which Agreda cultivates a network of sliding beats, synthetic hi-hats and strange firecrackers of electronics, like an electronic chassis being assembled around a mammalian cardiovascular system. At the other end of a record, Agreda’s voice seems to float free from the bionic confines. “Ø” is a ballad of drones and melodic sleepwalk; synths drip in like idle spits of summer rain, while Agreda’s extended sighs mimic a vapour spilling out from a cracked pipe, liberated from the album’s digital displacement to exist in a state of corporeal, irrefutable truth. It’s a compelling record for what it is, but also for what it refuses to be.