Matthew Syres and Dirk Kruithof, the core duo of Sydney ensemble Forenzics, make room for a couple of collaborators, Ryota Yamamura on electronics and Joe Cummins on trumpet and Kaoss pad. The results are a seamless group effect with all four participants blending their egos and sounds. What is even better is that, in spite of the completely improvised nature of the album and the amount of noise that is mustered up in sections, there are swathes of space for each to enact their contributions. The results are excellent.
Improvisation from the academic end of the scale has, in recent times, often relied on acoustic instruments and extended technique recorded with utmost clarity. Their warehouse based outsider cousins have tended towards electricity, noise and the deliberate obfuscation of antiquated and lo-fidelity recording apparatus. Forenzics here tread a very satisfying middle ground. The decidedly urban, dystopian sounds of electricity flow through the sounds, but they are recorded with a widescreen clarity that allows every guitar nuance, every effect groan, every swish of static, its own clear place in the mix. Whilst I am a philosophical supporter of the lo-fi, I am often struck by the lack of repeat playability of many lo-fi improv recordings. They just don’t make we want to sit through them over again, especially when compared to what the same artists sound like in a live room with air in the space and the relative clarity of half-decent p.a. systems. Forenzics avoid this predicament completely and it’s quickly becoming my favourite album of this type of music.
Musically, there is a wonderful restraint. The track titles are, in many ways, descriptive. The 10 minutes of ‘Noise Avoider’ pretty much does that. There is lots of noise, but bits at a time, so Cummins’ lamenting trumpet is a clarion over the low-lying fizz, the other three threatening but never succumbing to the urge to simply vent. The tension built is wonderful. ‘Dub Scab’ flays delaying guitar stabs and backwards guitar licks over abstract drum machine hits and head nodding sine bass. ‘Motor Systemz Collisions’ runs a series of disjointed Krautrock drum machine rhythms underneath burbling lo-end synth distortion and traumatic builds of discordant guitar texture. I haven’t looked into it, but I’m guessing that ‘Nightmare Nurse (1973) Ma Rpt’s is built over shards of soundtrack to an obscure D-grade 70s horror film, the lo-fi strings and the odd scream a foundation for more beautiful trumpet and abstract guitar. It’s mood is the most disturbing on the album and the overdriven voice samples are the closest the quartet get to utilising pure lo-fi noise. Again, however, it’s an effect used in sharp blasts, contrasting the droning, spacial electronics.
New Weird Australia has consistently released artists left of centre of the left of centre. Not content to just put out anything that may superficially sound ‘weird’, the label is well curated and, in most cases, also very well recorded. This lifts its releases above the masses of crude (however worthy), outsider music in the underground at the moment. Build Ruins is a prime example of this and sits as one of the best in an already impressive roster of releases.