Review: Zbeen – Stasis

I was hit with mild heartbreak as I took scissors to my copy of Stasis, which arrived at ATTN:HQ in a vacuum-sealed silver plastic pack. Ultimately I’m glad that I did it, as such an action broke my preconceptions of the music that resided within based on visual aesthetic alone; Zbeen’s latest EP is far from the sterile, bleeping circuit board of sonic calculus that it I imagined it to be, and in fact, it actually feels just open to the experiential unknowing of the physical world as previous EP K-Frame.

It’s like a sonic laboratory: electric whistles quiver gently like agitated molecules under microscope slides, stutters of computer processes churn out real-time analysis and error codes, reverberant howls and distant high-pitched drones hint towards the reactive experiments occurring in neighbouring rooms. Yet rather than shut itself exclusively within clinical white spaces and painstakingly controlled modes of behaviour, the release is full of excursions into the outdoors: traffic noise, shoes crunching on dry rubble. In fact, the extent to which the duo explore both abstraction and a rich, multi-sensory tangibility is quite remarkable, with the bubbles and scrapes 26 minutes into “Skyr Stillheten” (for which reference points are difficult pick out, other than the amplified sound of an insect eating) demonstrating the release at its most earthly and animalistic.

Where the first half approaches moments of volume-induced instability via turbulent swells of low frequency, “Flytende Stillheten” takes a tense tightrope walk between silence and audibility. It sounds like the capturing of micro-processes – tiny, tiny indications of life and activity, slithering across empty space and forever feeling prone to fall into it. Silence and death loom large, and I’m left anxiously awaiting the moment at which that miniscule ripple of frequency eventually flatlines, slipping into the stasis of nothing.