The premise behind Age of Insects is to imagine and replicate, through electro-acoustic improvisation, the sounds made by extinct insects. The result, tellingly, more closely evokes the noise and world of industry, the cause of these creatures destruction.
It’s a welcomely unsympathetic and abnormally restrained exploration of this world, avoiding the frenzied chatter usually associated with magnified visions of insect life, such as those heard buzzing madly around Jeffrey Beaumont’s stroke-struck father in the opening scene of Blue Velvet, or the deafening whine of cicadas in countless field recordings. Mem1, the husband-wife cello-electronics duo of Mark and Laura Cetilia, are no strangers to collaboration and their microsound approach fits well with Stephen Vitiello’s electronics, creating fluid layers of grit, subdued scrapes, flickering sine tones and amorphous hum.
“Protophasma” employs a buzzing oscillation and a dull industrial growl which builds, gradually, in intensity until it sounds like the revving engines of an airplane. In “Paleophaedon” the blips and whirrs of vintage sci-fi flit between walls of grey fluff and a looped bass pulse. “Electrinocellia” introduces aquatic gurgles, controlled feedback, and a low-end thwack made from colliding rocks. Age of Insects most closely evokes an industrious world of ants, contentedly committed to their subterranean assembly line labour.