1: 07 February 2019
Don’t be fooled. Sound is not a fluid running through your fingers. It’s actually a putty. You can clasp it, press your palms into the cold surface and leave an imprint. You can wrench it in two, delight at how it breaks off, throw it down against a table top so that it flattens and slaps. You can stretch it into spaghetti. Roll it into a tight ball. It’s so easy to forget that sound is a tactile entity: a document of flesh and physical contact (hitting drums, striking strings), but also an object that beckons to be reshaped and re-comprehended. With streaming services, the reflex is to press onward. One track finishes, vanishes, is replaced with another, finishes, vanishes, is replaced. Nascent understandings emerge and then melt away. New Forms is the exact opposite: brightly-coloured bits of sound stuck under your fingernails, toying inexhaustibly with the same piece of audio over and over, crushing it into garish combination with another, coming to know its texture with the same intimacy with which I know the skin on my own hands. It’s about pressing inward, squeezing out the hidden harmonics and rhythms that resides within every passing second of listening, finding the miraculous possibilities that emerge when a fragment from a breakbeat from here is made to duet with a shard of anthemic chorus from there.
Jolts of sensation abound. I’m left giddy from the infinite spiral staircases of piano “Composition No. 1 and 2”, and similarly nauseated from being tossed between the various dance track thumps on “V-A-C Moscow”. Shadows of tuba flicker like ill-wired lighting on “Amina”, giving way to a beat that stumbles on skinny, fawnish legs of lop-cut percussion. Elsewhere, Feshareki strikes upon new textures through the remix equivalent of mere heat and pressure: turntables are slowed with fingers, the chords melting like wax to warm touch, entire orchestras groaning into downward slopes. Other sounds are forced into stubborn repeat, foregrounding the odd rhythms that lie innate within each individual moment, entirely distinct from the rhythm of the track as a whole. Electro-fills bump into slender hi-hats. Some sections of music sound terrifying when recontextualised – I’m thinking of a particular shriek that rips through the centre of “V-A-C Moscow” – while others, like the stammering slides of woodwind and strings on “Composition No. 3”, feel like a smashed accident at first but insist, over and over again, urgent like hands clutching my collar, that there’s something beautiful to be extracted from the mess. This always turns out to be true.
2: 16 February 2019
With time, the loops become mantras. When I first hear one of Feshareki’s samples, it feels as though it’s been mercilessly ripped from its previous context, trombones half-notes and partial melodies dangling out the sides like the wires of a forcefully seized television. It’s an estranged jigsaw piece, unable to convey itself without a reunion with its source. Often I can hear the pop as the sample returns to the start; little plosive complaints of incongruity as a severed ending is mashed into a severed beginning. This, in itself, is beautiful: the brutal estrangement of a congealed cluster of instruments, the seams still bleeding, jerking through rhythms that scramble the intention of the original composer. Yet with each repeat, a different sensation starts to creep into my listening. These clusters of disparate samples start to become objects in themselves, like sentences repeated until they become meaningless, then start to feel profound. The original context is still there – I continue to picture the drum ‘n’ bass jams, orchestra pieces and disco tracks from which these samples originate – yet this awareness is in a push-pull with a new form that ossifies over time, generating a musical language which is just as valid and musically coherent as the compositions from whence the samples came. They no longer feel like orphans – rather, they are revitalised by the epiphany that their endings were always meant to feed back into their beginnings.