Review: Ian Watson – BBV3

BBV3 is like a swamp that bubbles with noise and occasional implications of melody; it ripples with distortion and wobbles off pitch, nudging squawks of violin and dying choral pads to its murky surface. Watson considers this tape as a sort of soundtrack to the artwork in his Brain Blood Volume zines, and those of a synaesthesic ilk will no doubt be able to spy the parallels between the two: contorted woodland animals translated into sinister chords warbling out of aged tape, feedback weaving slyly between the labyrinth of pen lines.

Watson himself moves between presence and absence throughout. On some occasions one can imagine him hand-cranking synthesisers to higher pitches and greater intensities; on others, the music sounds like mysterious spaces into which the listener has simply stumbled, with each hum and hollow drone slotting into a sort of musical re-imagining of an open field recording. At times those echoing resonances imply a grand panorama, perhaps even Atlantis-esque underwater palaces, yet the warmth of Watson’s chosen medium – tape crackling and hissing like a wood-burning fire – cradles his sounds within a much smaller scale. It’s miniature in size, yet paradoxically immersive too.