Review: Jockel Liess – Fluid Variations

ArtworkWithin Fluid Variations, the tones form numerous intersecting currents. They surge into the frame and force eachother back. They climb over eachother, riding the sloping drones as they creep through upward fades and gradually dissipate. Each interaction triggers a change in direction which, however small, invariably triggers another. Before long, a momentary agitation becomes a prolonged, stereo-wide heave of distress – an anxious sway of transient tones and troubled murmurs of dissonance, enacting a unison of mood if not parallel movement. This process of rolling between states and reacting to those nascent oppositions in force defines the narrative of Fluid Variations for its entire 18-minute duration. Speaking of which – the duration feels like an arbitrary window of time through which the piece can be observed. In actual fact, there’s no reason to believe that Fluid Variations ceases to exist when the music player stops. It’s a snapshot of an eternity in flux; a fleeting demonstration of an infinite process of renewal.

Just as the movement of sound evades stillness and explicit mood states, the timbres swing across the boundary between real-world instrumentation and synthetic imitation. Sometimes, I hear the dusty expulsion of an accordion. At other moments, I’m reminded of the primitive whirr of a circuit board buzzer, angled through fades with an elegance that contradicts the blunt buzz of its source. The tones seem to shift in shape and texture; getting softer, getting coarser, developing angles and melting into smoother surfaces, all at a pace that makes me question whether I’m simply imagining the whole thing. It’s not the only moment during Fluid Variations where my line of contemplation arches back upon myself. Something about the strange, pendulumic sway of the whole thing – like watching a wind chime dancing upon winds that shift in speed and intensity – leaves me feeling meditative and aware of my own being. My skin prickles as the drones brush against it. The more I hear Liess’ music, I more I sense my own weight and presence in relation to it.