Review: Rashad Becker – Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol. I

Many of the sounds populating Rashad Becker’s PAN debut are “slurps”: watery, bubbly slugs of glissando that travel up the side of my head like a tongue licking me from my cheekbone to my crown. Each track starts with just a couple of these sorts of sounds – sparingly used and discursive, like alien voices in blunt communication – before the sphere of interaction starts to swell and mutate, with fleshy noises jostling together and causing sparks of eerie alien interference between them. It’s unfamiliar and supernatural, but a few of those muscle flexes here and there hint toward an organic motion too; sounds bounce against the stereo floor with the same gravitational adherence that grounds all of us, while fragmented melodies float into view as dance music debris, conjuring images of bodies swaying slowly in underwater nightclubs.

It’s another album in an increasing collection (with PAN itself boasting a notable number of contributions) of records that are resituating connotations of “synthetic” music. Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol I is wondrous to the touch; sounds are scaly and moist, caked in coarse feathers and stretching and shrinking under respiratory cycles; synthetic music not as a parallel universe, but as a disturbing and enlightening extension of this one, starting as a mimicry of familiar textures and behavioural patterns before contorting them to a point that resides on the very periphery of our own frame of reality and understanding, like an inevitable future point in the earth’s evolutionary path.