Jgrzinich – Phase Inversion (Mystery Sea) / From the White Chimneys – Nautilus With Wings (Mystery Sea)

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phase inversion
from the white chimneys

John Grzinich’s Phase Inversion is a giant murmuring, always on the verge of blooming, though largely because it seems always to be fading, growing darker the deeper it dives, where steel scrapes and grey glitches break its surface and paradoxically makes the cold, barren atmosphere more intimate.

If the climate of three works here is somewhat cryptic, it is a good deal more inescapable. Pieces pass with an incessant, circular motion, but it’s a motion done on the spot, heading nowhere. The first selection is the strongest. A solemn undertow spaded with placid tones hovers in the distance. A deceptively mischievous manner appears to hold it in place, though steadily it encroaches, not so much transforming as revealing a network of growling mechanical distortions occasionally pocked with echoing synthetic pings.

The closing pair of works are hewn from the same dark matter, but their rubbings are more feint, corroded, as though they now stood at a certain distance from themselves. As fine as they are, there is a sense in which they aren’t quite heavy enough to fully make good on the potential of the albums initial stirrings. This remains, still, a fine example of Grzinich’s never overwhelming, but far from benevolent, rattling streams of sonic distillation.

The next work, Nautilus With Wings, a collaboration between Ben Fleury-Stein and Danny Kreutzfeldt, finds a fascinating point of origin in the nautilus. A creature renowned for its ability to not only survive but remain vibrant in even the harshest of oceanic climates, Steiner and Kreutzfeldt similarly demonstrate an ability and enthusiasm for not only adapting but expending energy. The duo swoon, but also recoil, quick to renew rather than simply ravish their situation. With a series of fresh judgments, the surging power of these pieces, though dark and unstable, remains vibrant within these rich atmospheres and manages to open up engaging re-articulations with surprising consistency. Its heavy, smoldering essence may give rise to a wetland of spooked sounds, but this is an oddly intimate and inviting cavern to explore.

Max Schaefer

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