Review: Yvonne Troxler – Brouhaha

Troxler seems to unpeel the supposed immediacy of sound to reveal the potential for music that resides within and behind; music tucked away within the bustle of the everyday, stashed underneath the most mysterious of sonic unknowns – even music that lurks within music, expanding seemingly flat sonic surfaces to position them as complex, multi-faceted 3D objects. Beyond perceiving listening as a conscious act, Brouhaha dedicates itself to the practitioners of persevered listening – those that wish to hear beyond sound’s face value and unearth its more intricate details and contextual networks.

And while it’s not exactly revelatory to explore the idea that “music is all around us”, opening track “Penn 1” takes such a rather interesting slant on such a perspective. Inspired by the sound of a storm ratting the façade of Manhattan’s Penn 1 Building, the piece sheds light on one example of musical quality residing within the day-to-day before dragging this back into the domain of conventional instrumentation. It’s like a poem that undergoes a much too literal inter-language translation; chaotic and intense structures comprised of recognisable notes, with vibratory shudders of piano and woodwind moving into a frictional slide of slow, drawn out overtones and cymbal rustle. It’s a tense struggle between soundscape and conventional music – known instruments channelling the characterful, unfamiliar musical patterns of the natural world.

Meanwhile, the three-part “Shergotty” (the term for meteorites from Mars) treats its compositions like “found objects”; sonic curiosities that conceal detail and meaning beneath their seemingly ordinary exterior. Part two is the most engrossing, shedding light on the glacial resonances of such instruments as vibraphones, tilting notes back and forth so that they slide into all sorts of gorgeous whistling overtones. The album raises queries on the interaction between composition and its medium of transmission; the way in which instruments and composers skew and reshape musical structures on their journey from concept to vibration, burdened by their unshakable timbral and personal characteristics that emboss the music of the stave with all kinds of wonderful, lively detail during its materialisation. Such an idea is conveyed neatly by “Penn 1”s translation from concrète to classical instruments, “Shergotty”s hidden overtone gems and the beautiful manipulations of album closer “Kaleidoskop”, which presents a giddying, teetering melody in three drastically different arrangements.