Review: John Chantler – Even Clean Hands Damage The Work

John Chantler - Even Clean Hands Damage The WorkWhere The Luminous Ground seemed to feed voltage into two-dimensional space – synthesisers shimmying left and right through sudden angles of circuitry, zig-zagging directly across itself – Even Clean Hands Damage The Work sources more prominently from the kinetic palette of depth: electronic explosions vacuum-sucked into distant corners, drones rotated to unveil serrated underbellies and cast particular overtones in shadow. The music is still extremely present tense, and much like the din and lights of a capital city, it exists in the form of movement and micro-reaction; a lattice of sonic contrails that sometimes slips accidentally into the shapes of words and emotions I recognise, and sometimes take a more alienating route through the labyrinth of randomisation and chance. My face flickers in the momentary recognition of the familiar – a sudden, coincidental flash of minor-key blues within the electricity, or a firework of organic ecstasy popping up from inside the hum – before the form dissipates into a shapeless tangle again.

So of course, I spiral into thoughts of human influence and human emulation, just as I did with The Luminous Ground. To what exist is John Chantler actually present on the work? Is he the deft and intricate flicks of a puppeteer, or the mere fingernail that nudges the first domino only? How much does it even matter? Besides, in spite of the beautiful warmth and dynamic that Chantler teases out of the synthesisers, it is not images of instruments that enter my brain upon listening. “The Knight Firth” sounds like two broken motorboat engines, chopping up the water in jerking, intermittent bursts, while “Dismantled Cabaret” sounds as I imagine star constellations would if they adopted a sonic form: uncomfortably and mysteriously harmonious, gleaming in vague resemblance to earthly objects, in spite of their wonderful obliviousness to me and my world.