Review: Debating Math + Cerlan – Split

Debating Math + Cerlan - SplitWhen I listen to Debating Math, a particular time comes to mind. 3am. It’s pitch black outside, and reality starts to haze behind the thickening curtain of fatigue. Guitars strum muffled and intermittently, like streetlamps perceived wearily out of focus; the glows hang in the air, suspended all by themselves, serene and compelling. From somewhere above, white noise seethes gently like a draft being sucked out of a high window. It’s the music of feeling tired and pensive, swirling in that unseen hour where time ceases to move – the surreal dislocation of post-midnight, where the world ceases and I shift from societal component to disobedient, nocturnal voyeur. The scene only gets stranger beyond the halfway mark; electronic drums punch holes in the landscape, while a ghostly symphonic drone settles onto the horizon like a aeroplane made of pure light coming in to land. My body craves sleep but I refuse. I want my world to melt even more, spinning down the drain of the surreal, summoning the low drones of jet engines pushing thick, equatorial heat into my face.

Cerlan is the total opposite. Crisp, funky, vivid. The sudden incision of daylight. It’s like the dramatic introductory music of an amateur drama performance, flocked by the solos of instruments that fall somewhere between synthesiser and alien woodwind, exploding under cluster bombs of hi-hat and crash – a symphony crammed under the lid of a keyboard that was cutting edge around 1995. And initially there’s something heartbreaking about that; the sense that Cerlan’s music was perhaps a gigantic fireworks display in concept before being scaled down to 1/50th its imagined size to fit the practicalities of budget and equipment. But I listen further, and realise that “Ogla” is an entity all of its own – an adventurous desert hike in pixelated virtual reality, with bright colours exploding into a binary sky. It’s internally projected cinema, defined by the computer right-angles and hex-colour hue of a life spent in a VR headset, opulently unrestrained by the muck of real-world consequence.