Review: Phil Maguire – aural documents #1

Phil Maguire - aural documents #1 - coverThe synaesthesic clarity of aural documents #1 is such that I could draw it. Three individual groups of circular black blots, each separated by jagged rectangles that extend across the page like hedges seen from a birds eye perspective.

Sonically, the blots are little digital plosives veering in and out of stereo synchronisation over the course of a single minute, like bubbles of water popping in my ears over and over again. They are spotless and pristine little droplets, vivid against the white of the canvas. Shapely and defined. All of them are titled “ampere”.

Sonically, the jagged rectangles are stretches of undulating static, like blizzards heard from within a flimsy shed, marked by sudden surges of force that resemble the crumpling of gigantic sheets of foil. The more I listen, the more sensitive I become to the way noise arches and erupts in waves, or contracts and stretches like a muscle. These pieces are titled “volt”.

The record moves back and forth between these “ampere” and “volt” pieces, and the transition between the two is always sudden and disruptive. Streams of noise are abruptly sealed shut. Intermittent drips burst open into continuous gushes. Shape loses and regains relevance. Continuums dice themselves into fragmented stop-starts. Sequences of individual actions release themselves into states of flow. Everything about aural documents #1 is clean and exact; a precise negotiation of noise, time, space and silence, architecturally arranged into a structure of symmetry, right angles and impeccable counterbalance. The hand of the composer is barely present, intervening at the behest of necessity rather than preference, instigating switches in polarity rather than nudges of increment. Vivid and irrefutable.