Review: Roger Tellier Craig – Instantanés

I feel exhausted after listening to Instantanés. There are moments where I feel compelled to grab a notebook and start jotting something down: the shape of certain sounds in my head, the exact timings of those bursts of birdsong (a task rendered near-impossible by the number of digital emulations of this sound), the tempo of those throbbing tinnitus pitches, the words I can discern from the muffled clips of conversation. In fact, the second of these two pieces is called “Truth Mining”, which is precisely what this feels like. Something about Tellier Craig’s process evokes the urgency of encoded communication. These collisions of place and event and frequency – many of which are sub-second in length – are discordant enough to strike me as peculiar, yet coherent enough to bear the prints of methodical human logic. And thus, there must be meaning: a morse-coded plea concealed within those taps of digital coins; a key location mapped in the mixture of circuitry buzz and ventilated air; analogy woven into the avalanche of electricity. The volume often rises to calamitous levels, with background noise flooding into the fore, and I feel like Instantanés is shaking me by the shoulders, imploring me to listen closer in my search for understanding.

It’s the sense of symbiosis that keeps me here: those brittle, barely-visible threads that connect the clack of snooker balls to the gasp of a hairdryer, running between the whistle of feedback and the rumble of ocean pressure. There are these faint suggestions of causation as one sound ricochets into the next, or the implication that those digital beeps are monitoring the vital signs of the drones that surround it. In fact, further listens reveal the presence of various motors and cooling fans, like the computer servers that co-ordinate this state of global connectivity, passing instructions between robotic whirrs and processed rainfall, pitching each sound on Instantanés as both the consequence of those prior and a conversational partner with those on either side. Intellectually, I know that this work must have been produced through a process of slow and deliberative sculpture, built via meticulous placement and replacement, refined through hours of processing and reshaping. Yet the album is masterful for how it obscures its painstaking handiwork through a visceral occupation of the present tense; sounds are only pertinent for as long as they exist in my ears, vivid and tactile in their brevity, extinguished with a ruthlessness that defies their gradual refinement, released like consonants fired into vowels, rolling noise, material and movement into a language I don’t yet speak.