Cyclic Defrost

An Australian magazine focusing on interesting music

M. Griffin – Fabrications (Hypnos)

It took eleven years for Fabrications to appear, having originally been slated for a 1998 release following Hypnos founder Mike Griffin’s debut Sudden Dark in 1997. In that period the entire work was reshaped and reworked several times, being tantalisingly close to appearing yet never actually emerging.

Griffin’s output of ambient and minimalist compositions on Fabrications takes sounds captured from field recordings and mixes them all together across six long length works. Though Griffin takes pride in the fact that no synthesized or non-acoustic sounds were used in the recording, it takes only a brief look at the title – Fabrications – to see that this ethos is somewhat problematic in examining the merits of the album. By taking all these sounds, be they of running water or late-night walks, capturing them on record somehow renders them as imitations of themselves. The sounds are real in that they have inevitably occurred, but they are copies in the true Walter Benjamin sense; copies that somehow lose the aura of the original.

Listening to ‘Air Sense Space’ brings this to mind, particularly due to the mixture of sounds. With the help of the liner notes acting as a rudimentary guide, lapping waves from the Pacific Ocean in Kona can be heard, along with the dull and constant ebb of an electrical transformer. The sounds exist and they feel as if they are completely believable, but they will always be one step removed from actual experience. It’s an eerie effect that makes the journey somewhat uncomfortable, despite the swathes of near-hypnotic ambience that permeate the recording.

Though the aural space is generally quite sparse, individual segments throughout the album are very dense. ‘Devise’ certainly feels like one of these pockets, with its layered, distorted voices gradually building upon themselves. These “collages”, as Griffin puts it, highlight the intensity of sensation that he is able to pull out of what would normally be commonplace sounds. Fabrications manages to create complex experiences out of copies and triggers sensation from replicas, which is a commendable achievement.

Alexandra Savvides

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Cyclic Defrost is Australia’s only specialist electronic music magazine. We cover independent electronic music, avant-rock, experimental sound art and leftfield hip hop. Read more

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