Review: MUfi.re – These Walls Resemble Absence

These Walls Resemble Absence was recorded in an old abandoned factory, and everything started to make sense when I realised this. There is a very slight infiltration of the outside – a muffed sea of public conversation, eerily distinct droplets of birdsong, a slight wind rippling and crackling across the ceiling – and yet the reverb that kicks up around these noises is bright and thick; a sort of reactive puff of dust and concrete, juxtaposing the sound of the exterior leaking inward with a acoustic response of a very dense, hard, fortified material. I imagine the gaping holes of natural erosion and curtailed, unauthorised demolition attempts perforating the grey surfaces, through which sunlight and external soundscape gush in generous streams.

And then there’s the objects themselves, all of which are thoroughly wrung for all of their acoustic secrets. The factory setting seems to instil Almeida with a very visceral, muscular treatment of the materials – unknown structures of metal and wood are dragged across a floor that moans under a blanket of collected dust and rubble, while other items are twisted and scraped so that their rasping tones modulate and bend as their shape and axis undergo a laboured, exertive skew. While Almeida’s palette here appears to be exclusively artificial material – emitting a very dry and stubborn array of clangs and knocks, or the vacuous gush of air con units or industrial machinery motor – he gifts them a sense of organic life by inducing vocal nuance and the illusion of independent behaviour. Groaning chairs sound like the roars of junkyard lions, wavering in pitch as physical energy and emotion embark on a fluctuation of surges and wanes, while the creak of an unoiled door feels like the declarative hum of an armoured whale.