Review: Ben Gwilliam – breakdownspedup

Ben Gwilliam - breakdownspedupIt’s hard to tell what I’m actually hearing. This 18-minute piece comprises several Dictaphone recordings made inside freezers, each concluding in the malfunction and death of the Dictaphone itself. The groan of the freezer motor swells and collects like a pool of liquid in my head – treacle-thick, cognitively clogging. Is the motor actually getting louder, or is the microphone membrane warping to form its own noises and phantom amplifications? Am I hearing the muffled pops of freezer mechanism in rotary jolt, or the uncomfortable snap of broken Dictaphone circuitry?

In the closing minute, I’m undoubtedly bearing witness to the panicked babble of a dying device. Rapid-fire electric pulses flood my field of hearing; the Dictaphone equivalent of heart attack, rising in volume until the freezer turns into an inferno of internal convulsion, pointing the microphone inward to document the death of an electronic body, as though the device is wilfully prioritising the capture of its final moments over the constant churn of its surroundings. Suddenly, there’s a violent rattle of white noise. It’s over.