Split, as the title suggests is a split release between Match Fixer (Melbourne producer Andrew Cowie) and Glass Bricks (visual/sound artist David Mutch) released via Melbourne tape label Altered States Tapes.
First up is Match Fixer, better known for the warped synth nostalgia of his main project Angel Eyes. And whilst flashes of synth remain – albeit in more sinister tones – they are pushed to the background by the pummelling, distorted beats and murky low end rumble which dominate the three tracks presented here.
On how the two projects differ Cowie commented that Angel Eyes loosely works within pop frameworks, whereas “Match Fixer works within claustrophobic spaces” and this analogy perfectly captures the overall mood evoked, with the layers of sound clawing at each other in a desperate attempt to stay above the surface. The focus on rhythm further adds to this sense of claustrophobia as the relentless throb engulfs the listener, not letting up until the final moments of ‘III’ where a short break gives us a chance to catch our breath before the beats re-emerge. However this time they are more subdued, content to act as accompaniment to the eerie synth motif that closes the track.
The Glass Bricks contribution ‘Seven Samurai / Baker Street / Pachinko / Storm / Earth Compactor’ is more of an oddity. A side-long piece (on the cassette version at least) melding field recordings with dusty samples, manipulated until almost unrecognisable. I was previously unfamiliar with the work of David Mutch but his work as Pissypaw (with Olle Holmberg) explores similar territory with their sample-heavy original works and their unsettling remixes of Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne and Bob Dylan.
The track name provides some insight into the origin of the samples; ‘Seven Samuraiâ€¦’ loops a snippet from the film of the same name, shifting the tempo until it becomes a mulch of vinyl decay. The distinctive saxophone riff from Baker Street is given similar treatment, bending and warping the pitch into a nauseating cacophony of discord. The final three phases of the piece revolve around field recordings, all of which sound as though they are being filtered through a space echo and repeated, leaving behind an air of unease.
Split is a compelling release, and whilst the Glass Bricks contribution may be a little harder to penetrate, the immediacy of the Match Fixer tracks provide a nice counterbalance, which is more rewarding with each listen.