Review: Nagual – S/T

NagualThe room is tense with electricity. In places I can hear the buzzing of two loose wires in contact – groaning, petering out – while at others it’s less explicit; perhaps a low transistor hum below the floorboards, whirring with dangerous life, or soft lights spilling out of burning bulbs. Ultimately it’s a presence rather than a sound; the air is humid and static, thick with a concentration and telepathy wafting out of McColm and Shapiro – amplifier grills choke on thick tone formations and pianos stumble downward in crooked, awkward figures, as though carefully negotiating an uneven staircase. It’s a record of a subtle, haunting escalation – energy rebounding back inwards without a point of exit, accumulating in clouds of light and perspiration in the centre of the recording space.

The first two pieces twitch openly, vocalising the state of tension and wriggling in search of momentary relief. Both are rife with crackling (which sometimes sounds like a loose connection, and sometimes sounds like a primitively recorded campfire) as well as a partially stifled fluidity, running jauntily between the obstacles of reverse guitar birdsong and beautiful fountains of upward octave. Meanwhile, 20-minute finale “Continuous Becoming” sounds like a failed stasis, like movement seeping into the stillness through hairline fractures in a concrete dam – it’s neither blissfully immobile nor mercurial and liberated, with McColm and Shapiro seemingly pushing back as thick, vibrant globs of amber start to ooze right out of the lines, re-asserting amorphousness like a pressurised current of treacle.