Review: Roarke Menzies – Corporeal

a1582096316_10Some of the pulses on Corporeal are undoubtedly machine-based. Hydraulic arms pound against surfaces, each thrust announced by a fierce expulsion of air. The clack and whine of an unoiled rotary mechanism. The pump of an electronic bass drum. Elsewhere, the pulses are that of flesh and blood and ungainly human step. Muffled beats, fleshy contractions of muscle, rumbles of feet hurrying across the floor. They entwine and encircle me; acts of repetitive movement and contact, affirming their own existence and performing solitary roles, trapped within mesmeric cycles of the singular, eternally unfinished task. Both body and machine are treated as constructs of mere function, helplessly engaged acts of physical force. Over and over again. Hands press into hard drives. Digital beats thrust through steel chassis.

Roarke Menzies adorns these rhythmic limbs with softer, more fluid forms of sound: rippling blankets of ambience, mists of exhalation / gaseous pressure relief, loops of displaced music and reversed voice. They billow out from the impacts and plosives like the fleeting ephemera of deeper meaning; flashes of implication and significance. Through these strange, phantom-like acts of harmony and tone – which tread around the perimeter of melody, refusing to adopt a distinct shape – Menzies applies traces of emotional shadow and philosophical hue. I strain and wonder whether the quivering, low-fidelity hum on “Behind The Curtain” is a human choir or an emulative synthesiser. Is the fizz on “The Wake” a light bout of rain on concrete surfaces, or the persistent sound of a computer cooling fan? Perhaps I’m never meant to know, and perhaps the answer is irrelevant. It’s all veins and wires, motors and lungs. Any emblems of abstraction and spirituality are only momentary – it’s the sounds of corporeal impact that persist.