In times like the ones we live in, contrasts are at the basis of everyday life and nothing more than a working place showcases them. Think, for example, to the difficulties typical of the relationships with colleagues, or to the mind-boggling irrationality in the combination of routine procedures, extreme noise and vocal exchanges commonly found in a factory. This is a good starting point for the appreciation of Tddm, a double CD comprising four long segments chock full of deafening environments and thunderous machines interspersed by exceptionally rare moments in which a faint human presence – or an intercom message - is perceived amidst the continuous threat of the mechanical monsters.
The recordings were made in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Japan, as to homage the renowned toughness of certain Asian labourers, used to the hardest sacrifices yet frequently swallowed by a sense of duty that represents both a stimulus to exemplary productivity and the reason for nervous instability and, ultimately, suicide in the nastiest instances. This might remind someone of Phill Niblock’s films, where infinite drones accompany the images of people performing manual works but this release is much less rewarding in terms of adjacent-frequency nirvanas. López and Gendreau share the discs with a piece each, having separately collected sonorities that range from massively static to heavily rhythmic. Theirs is a coldly detached view of the ambience from which this stuff is originated: the raw materials remain for the large part untreated (even though some degree of editing seems to typify particularly reiterative parts), only the definitive dynamics decided by the assemblers. Describing what happens in detail is utterly pointless, although the first section of López’s “D138” is transfixing to say the least, profound reverberations and vacillating auricular membranes the by-product of a superior susceptibility to the propagation of sonic waves.
The monolithic qualities of the captured sounds reveal a series of acoustic sub-particles attributing to the record its “musical” characteristics. This is actually another functional contrast: the clunking mass, the violent thudding, the constant racket of roaring apparatuses that, especially at the beginning of Gendreau’s “T921” gives the false idea that airport echoes are being heard, are in effect “minimalist” according to a heartless repetitiveness absurdly determining a sort of hypnosis, the brain cuddled by the booming resonance of these monotonous cycles. In turn, a disproportion with the tremendous amount of physical and mental tension surely experienced by the plant’s personnel during their shifts.
Indeed, should a single album be labelled as a paradigm of “industrial music”, this would have to be it. But Gendreau and López are not Esplendor Geometrico or Maurizio Bianchi: they are authentic composers who in this circumstance chose to use alienation as the principal factor in a project whose distressing temperament must not detract from a tangible value. One has to learn to find musicality down to the apparently inaccessible lower spheres of clangour, and there’s no doubt that this nice pair mostly succeed in letting us crave the mere illusion of a tiny light at the end of a massacring experience.