Review: Øe – Transfer

One of the primary discussion points surrounding the rise of computerised media has been the changes in the way we interact with eachother and define ourselves – the merge of culture and opinion that blurs our sense of geography and social belonging, while exposing our minds to a whole wealth of viewpoint and practices existing outside our immediate social environments as they exist in the “real world” (whatever that is). But what about the medium that makes all of this possible? Transfer is a “sonic reflection” on our interaction with machines; the channelling of emotion and personality into a cascade of 1s and 0s, which – under the title of “Affective Computing” – has lead to research into the way in which machines may be able to simulate human emotion by capturing data based on facial expressions, vocal patterns and skin temperature.

Transfer explores the increasing intimacy of two languages, and the growing empathy between man and machine. Upon reading the album concept, my listening experience begins to take on a very distinct shape. It’s the limbo zone where the two communication forms collide; the gateway between the cold definition of digitalism and the warm fluidity of human emotion. Little spurts of beep and hum (very reminiscent of Taylor Deupree’s bubbling tonal debris) scatter themselves among the rich, vibrato tones of violin and clean guitar chimes, both of which are embedded in a waterfall rush of droning synthesiser chord. It’s a strange landscape, simultaneously evoking a vibrant dreamlike abstraction of meditative electronic music and the earthly tangibility of field recording; yet to solidify into one or the other, and thus floating within an inter-dimensional midpoint of alienating, disconnective stasis. The listener is lost in beautifully numbing wash of communication in mid-translation – soft phonemes squashed into hard boxes of data, binary unravelled into fluid vowels – and while such a sound obviously lacks the anchorage of assertion or clear message, it is gorgeous for its depiction of the deconstruction/materialisation process.