Matt Atkins + Adam Kinsey – Lowercase

During my most recent review, I talked about the importance of live performance within the experimental music scene. You can read all about Eumig’s ‘Live Recordings 2018’ here, but to summarise: experimental music comes to life when presented as a performance; the opportunity to review releases made up of live recordings is always exciting. Some may consider the recording and release of improvised live performance as a removal of authenticity; I believe it provides variety and a unique listening opportunity and an ever-welcome documentation of artistic practice.

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Now, onto the real focus of this review: Matt Atkins + Adam Kinsey’s ‘Lowercase’. Out on Atkins’ own Minimal Resource Manipulationlabel, ‘Lowercase’ combines manipulated objects, granular textures, abstract soundscapes, distant voices, and warped field recordings. The album was recorded in Kinsey’s living room in London, without pause or the need for further editing. ‘Lowercase’ is the result of a fully improvised performance, with Kinsey on modular synth duties and Atkins providing further manipulations a via laptop.

‘Part 1’delves into dark territories, creating suspense through dissonant and disturbing textures. Sustained bell tones ring out from an environmental soundscape, littered with saturated glitches and gurgling patterns. Whispers fracture and stretch; vocal gestures are bent and broken beyond recognition. Metallic drones sulk in the background while minute sounds of contact are brought to the foreground, fluttering from side to side amid washes of static, bubbling thumps, and animalistic groans.

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‘Part 2’begins on a lighter note. The familiar bubbling textures move beneath a canopy of high-pitched static grainy mechanical sounds. I’m reminded of Carter’s ‘Piercing’as the careful use of sounds approaching the very edge of our listening perception are used to great effect. The unpredictability remains, however there is a constant sense of change and progression that can easily be lost in favour repetition and overly-slow textural evolution within improvised music of this nature. That is not say the progressions within ‘Lowercase’ are at all erratic or unreasonable, but well thought out and precisely delivered.

Fitting with the nature of this release, an edition of 15 CDRs are available with handmade packaging making each item unique via Minimal Resource Manipulation.

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