Tuesday, 20 October 2009

DIAPHRAGM – Sublimation


Business as usual: a sizeable pile of releases from last year lying on the desk and looking at me, hungry kittens impatient to be taken care of. I choose one randomly, put it in the player and – lo and behold – here’s a fine disc of noise-based compositions by Nicholas Pace from New York, working under the Diaphragm alias. The press release quotes sonic realities such as Speculum Fight, Iovae and Tom Grimley as hypothetical related listening. Sorry – the author is not familiar with any of those; but this record is damn good.

Apparently, the man lives in some sort of forlorn urban environment somewhere in the NY area, as he declares that the music is influenced by the “greyed-out hulks of broken concrete and razorwire” that surround his place. For sure the first feeling experienced is one of bleakness, thrumming rumble and static ingloriousness “welcoming” the listener together with a huge accumulation of sampled metropolitan echoes (and possibly a few measures of unidentified machinery and blaring traffic). Once the initial impact has been absorbed, though, we realize that the hostile mass does possess an alternative life, and that most sounds are unusually “canorous”, at times gifted with an aberrant harmony, always deployed with a noticeable logic which is what distinguishes this musician from the gangs of noisemaking cretins who leave our ears agonizing after a minute, whose records are only useful to stabilize peg-legged tables. In that sense “Party Foul II” is a bloody great track, dirty microsounds and ill-omened glissandos worthy of a seriously talented composer. Want a bleeding brain? Go to “Black Watermelon” and savour its bionic birds pecking at your hopeless auricular membranes.

The buried musicality characterizing the bulk of the program mainly derives from the utilization of what Pace calls a “rusted mountain of ancient oscillators”. I don’t know the exact reason, but Sublimation instantly clicked as soon as the spinning began. Maybe it will be a summer love-like excitement at the end, yet following a couple of listens – a murderous crossing of distortion and exacerbated reverb is accompanying my writing right now – this reviewer is still willing to believe that it might even appeal to so-called sophisticated audiences. Give it a try, hopefully you won’t be deluded.