Marquardt’s piece is like a draft coming through a crack in the ceiling. For ten minutes it seeps in as a high frequency wisp, somewhere between guitar feedback, headphone leakage and a straining elevator mechanism, while tiny wooden knocks mimics a broken clock hand, limping arrhythmically between 11 and 12. What is this? Someone’s living quarters? A neglected attic space with a dirty mattress thrown in it? As a dwelling it is curious and somewhat uncomfortable, and the atmosphere builds in my ears like compacting wax. Marquardt’s employs what he refers to as an “accidental guitar” method. Indeed, the sounds present here are the instrument equivalent of burps and fluey sniffs – body by-products, too often rejected as a form of human waste or sonic perspiration.
In contrast, Kaufman’s opening drones feel like a gush from a hot tap. Initially I feel soothed by the lo-fi synthesiser chords and feedback sirens that cling to eachother, although the energy that drives his two pieces soon starts to feel anguished and strained. His method is inspired by the fictional card game Damage, which appears in Iain M. Banks’ book Consider Phlebas: a duel of telepathic psycological manipulation and the gambled lives of mortal creatures. The pieces quiver as though Kaufman is fending off the emotional infiltration of his competitors, climaxing in groans and glimmers that stutter to the verge of breakdown. His mind is finally hacked – a sphere of warm tone falls under the excruciating severance of a blunt knife, coughing and shrieking as the whole is gradually prised into two.