Review: Jay-Dea Lopez – Systemic Collapse

The air is thick, and there’s something wondrous about that. The sound of crickets clots the sky – an invisible choir that amasses to a shrill, aggressive cloud of sound without definable origin – while the buzz of electricity (perhaps from a nearby power generator) veils the soundscape with a similarly imposing, buzzing opacity. Without any clear indicator as to where these recordings are made and how they have been used (the accompanying notes only inform me that the field recordings appear unprepared and are sourced from various spots around Australia), I’m left stranded in the outback, staggering through the night in an attempt to establish my sense of location, all the while aware that this “place” may in fact be a phantom construction of two or more soundscapes overlain.

There is a terrific degree of disturbance and tension at work here; the sense of a rattled equilibrium, perhaps caused by the entrance of an unfamiliar presence or an unexpected change in the weather. The crickets appear to gather closer inward at some points, often when the electricity buzz is at its most serrated and unstable, and “Systemic Collapse” feels like a landscape prophesising the imminence of something disastrous; a panic and instability shivers throughout this 20-minute recording, as though the sonic environment is responding noisily to some pre-emptive tremors mumbling way below the threshold of human hearing. It’s got a mysterious narrative to it, which makes for some thoroughly immersive listening.