Review: Elnath Project – Feedback Works

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HUMANHOOD RECORDINGS (RELEASED JUNE 3RD).

Each pass of the loop is not simply a repetition, but a process of compounding. The object grows in size and intricacy with each cycle. This applies to Alessandro Ciccarelli’s method of routing his mixer output back through the input, through which he summons little interferences to the fore and displays them like massive crumbling sculptures. No longer are they “interferences” in the sense of impeding on the main attraction. They become the main attraction, possessing all of the nuance and profundity of any mindfully executed instrument tone. The spitting low drone during “UU92” might seem harsh at first, but prolonged exposure reveals it to possess a rich, undulating energy reminiscent of an unsettled coastal breeze. Over and over, the notion of interference as a waste product is nulled by simply placing it in the spotlight.

This process of compounding also permeates the act of listening to Feedback Works. The lingering stillness of these sounds allows the ears to push deeper, as if through the slow surge of microscope magnification, into the crevices between crevices, prising open indivisible noises to find hidden duets between sub-species of crackle and scree and splutter. Evidently influenced by the work of Éliane Radigue (the album title is itself a hat-tip to a Radigue release), Ciccarelli refers to his interest in “vertical” listening, where the perceiver plunges into a persistent sonic circumstance rather than tracing the movement of melody. Listening becomes a cycle in which sound is received, interpreted, explored and received again, forever re-rendering the terrain as new pulses and hisses become apparent.

This connects smartly into the third feedback loop, which is that of listener inquiry. Ideas around composer agency become increasingly knotted as the record progresses. The jitters and contractions of Ciccarelli’s mixer output occur with unaffected, plant-like simplicity, devoid of any sense that there’s a human player. Who or what is in control here? To what extent is the feedback mutating all by itself? Could it be that the process of the infinite loop – the relentless transmission and receipt of the self – is an alchemical instigator for some form of sentience within the sounds themselves? Speculation eats itself, and the theories around Feedback Works only become increasingly fantastical from here.