Review: Silk Dune – Systemic Crevice

Silk Dune - Systemic Crevice - cover“Because birds are not human, their modulations provide schemas that are interesting in ways that are different from algebraic grids. The bird is a living being, part of a universe of muscle and nerves. Its algebra is organic, and so infinitely more complex than a series of dry numbers, and yet simpler, and in any case more effective, because it is mysteriously linked to human sensibility.” 

The above is a quote from Pierre Schaefer, included in the record’s description. It fills me with thoughts of whether these slurps and chirps of electronics adhere more to the reactive fluidity of human rationale or the static process of mathematical patterns. The line is deliberately blurred – either the algebra within is complex enough to render the outcome beyond prediction, or Frye’s improvisation comes riddled in the red herrings of recurrent patterns and strict gradients of pitch and volume. The electronics feel dry and laboratory derived, and I can imagine their sonic path being tracked by numeric displays of accelerating co-ordinates and pace-keeping light pulsations, as the subject of experiments into the core qualities of artificial pitch and timbre. And yet, they flit with seeming indecision and swoop into jeering, jubilant bouts of imitation – criss-crossing ribbons of dawn chorus – that pull my mind back toward the canyon of unknown that resides between improvisation and complex synthesis apparatus.

I see pixelated bubbles, broken radios slumped on their side. On “Sweeping the Round Window”, I encounter VHS footage of a miniature centrifuge alternating with blankets of dead signal; on “Feathered Polygot within a Series of Funnels”, green goo stutters out of a pressurised pipe beside the coughs and slides of a battery-operated Theremin running out of juice. I see flashes of computerised graphs in amongst the synaesthesic projections, and I’m caught in a weird glitch between the record’s clinical observation and its bizarre allusions to accident and real-world behaviour. The record description also mentions that these pieces were recorded in real time, which could be an attempt to throw me off. After all, what does “real time” even mean if the music already exists as a conceptual core algebra, tangible and timeless?