Review: Xu(e) – Brown Jenkin

Xu(e) - Brown JenkinJust how particular beams of light can illuminate the dust that otherwise drifts unseen, Xu(e) seem to observe drones rather than generate them. These are the particles of sound that hang within our breathing air, tucked into silence until the appropriate creative apparatus comes to unlock it. The drones are strange – bronze in colour, metallic in their resonant makeup, spinning so that each individual strand of frequency spends an equal amount of time at the fore. What is it that lures them into audibility? The shuffle of brush kit that resembles the sliding components of a locomotive engine, looped until the persistence begins to chisel into the unknown? Or is it the voices that spill wordlessly from mouths that hang open and dormant, landing upon magic incantations through pure chance?

There’s something strange and elusive at work. I feel naïve to the objectives of Xu(e) as they loiter upon particular formations of sound: the monstrous, cave-bound glockenspiel lullaby of “Keziah”, the rasping Velcro rip at the closing stages of “A Room With Peculiar Angles”. I’m not sure that I trust them either. Between the triangular bassline and innocuous clacks of “A Queer Thrill” emerges a writhing worm of noise – a strand of feedback to begin with, then an ugly black goo of amplifier fluid that smothers the entire frame and squeaks as it rubs up against the stereo edges. Internally, I raise the question of whether Brown Jenkin means me harm. For every beautiful wave of melody that causes me to cast such thoughts aside, there is a crooked or serrated edge that resurrects my concern once again.