Lucia H Chung’s side to Colour Of Quantum is always there, but often only just. There are points at which it appears to kiss the very brink of silence, its underbelly gliding across the surface of digital nothing, poised in a delicate balance of volume and frequency, as though sudden movement in pitch or dynamic could shatter the music into tiny, tiny glass shards. Pure waves fade up gradually, immaculate in both their flawless shape and orbital motion, while each jagged edge of those more abrasive textures is exhibited for all its microscopic detail. Chung treats the lower frequencies as a forbidden – with the disc’s opening tone hitting the very ceiling of my hearing range, and the rest of the music making very cautiously executed journeys into lower tones and thin audio pops – and as the music fades between sound and silence like an electronic ghost, one gets the sense that much of Chung’s side may only exist as an inaudible concept. With so much of the release existing on the fringes of human perceptual capability, how much possibly exists outside the boundaries?
So after drawing the listener’s attention down to the creation of sound on a molecular level and crafting it miraculously from silence itself, the transition to the live recording is startling. Chung’s tones become nestling in amongst the fierce rustle of feet and projectile coughs in a 16-minute set dedicated to Yuki Aida; both performer and audience battle to achieve a pristine silence in which the music can ripple and glisten, and the fact that this is forever denied by a distant background chatter and the room’s ambient reverberations is somewhat charming.
The contrast with Yuki Aida’s half is stark to say the least. Whereas Chung’s music seems to patiently question its own existence, Aida’s sounds are recklessly alive: juddering and buzzing in bursts of varying lengths, ranging from the stuttering computer errors of the opening 90 seconds to the prickly, dissonant cyberflow of the final track’s 13 minutes. The unperceivably slow slides of transition comprising Chung’s work are replaced by sudden timbral switches: muffled radiator hums become jittery loose livewires, which in turn dissolve into globules of ambient water floating in anti-gravity. But while the sounds themselves are far more brash than those of the album’s first half, their construction is no less meticulous for working with bigger, louder building blocks – equally, neither is the increase in volume at the expense of a mesmerising level of sonic detail. Aida merely works with sound on a larger scale, and where Chung evokes an appreciation for the way in which sonic particles move and interact, Aida compiles them into towering objects, no longer restricted to the parameters of sound, but free to adopt the attributes of place and shape.