Review: Modelbau – Judder

a2675130729_16It’s difficult to tell whether Judder is the product of a consciously absent composer, or the product of a composer capable of emulating natural forces. Whatever the answer, Frans de Waard is only a peripheral body in the listening experience. The album uses compositional stillness to accentuate the onset of tape degradation and accumulating feedback, with drones dragged out of tune and loops teased into strands of warbling harmony, like gears clogging with the gunk and rust of dormancy. The less de Waard intervenes in a musical sense, the more dominant these organic, “non-musical” factors become, pulling at the edges of the music as if trying to forcefully haul it through the passage of time.

The first half is a symphony of loose electricity: choruses of ungated hiss and rumbles of empty tape, gathering in volume until the sounds associated with absence – equipment waiting for a performer to play it – start to congeal into something harsh and deliberate, like pedals and cables growing impatient in their inactivity and turning inward to play themselves. The second half centres on an arpeggiated synth pattern, whose immaculate eight-note loop starts to fray at the edges like a circuit burning itself out. The change is slow and inevitable. The melody collapses gradually into a lower octave, gathering overtonal blemishes as it spins, somehow deriving an ominous electronic chant from a melody that initially strikes me as quaint and pretty. In both pieces, de Waard seems to take a step back – removing the temptation to steer the music through dials and buttons and pedals, instead waiting for change to manifest within the stagnation of circumstance.