Review: Brian Case - Tense Nature

Brian_Case-Tense_Nature-CoverCase situates himself as an observer, not a creator. These pieces carry the sense of unfurling of their own accord. Electronic loops throb like tiny hearts. Guitar strings hum like the labour of laboratory monitoring equipment. None of the tracks have distinct beginnings or ends, cutting off abruptly like extracts of processes that continue to unfold long after Case stops documenting them. Essentially, I’m presented with 12 petri dish specimens: self-contained microcosms of activity, each comprised of a different molecular circumstance, audible for as long as Case is bearing witness to their quivering cell divisions and negotiations of chemical process.

Apparently there are snippets of guitars and drums in here, although they’ve been cut in such a way that renders them unfamiliar (hostile, even). Often I’m presented with just the vibratory decay of each sound, divorced from the attack (the plectrum strike, the drumstick hit) that renders it recognisable. The guitar loop of the title track sounds like melting bells, descending in an ugly pattern over and over again, stretching out gradually until the notes blur into blobs of nonsense. “Pattern 1” sounds like a jerky drum rhythm placed inside an air vent, phasing as it ricochets through tunnels of aluminium, awakening the drones of resonant frequencies within the surrounding surfaces. Stranger still is “DCIN”, in which a synthesiser plops into pools of mutated string drones, sending ripples of vibrant colour out to the far edges of the frame. Again, Case simply watches. I don’t hear his presence within the music, even if I know that this fusion of alien texture and seemingly organic, biological unfolding is entirely his doing.