Review: Hamann + Fractal – Solo Para Dementes

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that this could be ATTN’s first contact with Peruvian improvisatory music, and it’s nice to be able to commemorate such an occasion with a positive review. Solo Para Dementes brings together Wilder Gonzales A. (aka Fractal) on the oscillator and Herrmann Hamann on the Electribe (an analogue modelling synthesizer by Korg). Credit is due to the pair for making such a minimal setup sound like the buzzing, flashing control panel of a futuristic mothership – or the buzz of electricity escaping angry out of loose circuitry, or the electronic swoops of alien communication – all without losing that secondary mental image of two musicians immersed in a very reactive live collaboration.

Often these pieces have a texture that pulses continuously from beneath, so as to give the more freeform noises sturdy anchorage. But it’s not a simple case of leaving one synthesizer running while anarchically twiddling the knobs of another; each element is going through subtle tweaks and slight shape-shifts all the time, and the pace at which the two collaborators take each piece between states is marvellously judged: slow enough to dazzle the listener with its addictive repetition, while progressive enough to steer each composition through an absorbing narrative. With the 14 minutes of “Orates 1”, Solo Para Dementes achieves the perfect mix – cycling through flickers of cyborg fireworks and steady drones that gradually start to dance under the force of the rhythm juddering through them.

Sometimes they try and force movement where stasis would best suit, sending synthesizers through clichéd pitch slides of overdoses of delay pedal that take the album dangerously near to noisy indulgence. The further the Hamann and Fractal stay from the criminally overused techniques in this sort of electronic noise, the better – they keep clear well enough for the most part, and it all means that Solo Para Dementes manages to stay engrossing a good 90% of the time. Recommended stuff, particularly for those who like their noise to sound like the preparatory cockpit procedures prior to the launch of a futuristic rocket.