The opener, Vernon City Limits starts industrial, with the sound of heavy machinery, a bleak dystopian audio world. Is it power tools? A train? The apocalypse? Yet when unexpectedly a banjo commences, the warm plucking almost washing away the darkness. What continues throughout the piece is a delicate dance, the analogue and the mechanical parrying forth, then retreating. To some extent it feels like Tuttle is trying to soften the industrial field recordings with some freeform folk, yet he gives both an equal weight, and it makes for strange compositional decisions without for a moment being jarring.
In fact compositional decisions are the key to Slowcation, as Tuttle religiously eschews the obvious when putting disparate sounds together, making it feel haphazard, like he’s doing nothing, when it’s clear this is anything but.
The banjo features repeatedly throughout Slowcation, and there’s no doubting Tuttle’s proficiency with the instrument. It provides an earthy folksy feel, no matter his other ingredients. Yet there’s also synthesizer, guitar, field recordings and computer borne electrics.
In most of his work both under his own name and as Anonymeye, Tuttle treads a fine line between sound design, or sound art and musicality, and Slowcation is no different, because no matter what technique Tuttle applies to his banjo or any of his instruments or sound making devices he adds an inherent musicality to his pieces. In fact even his predominantly synthesizer pieces have an evocative cinematic feel that is vaguely reminiscent of Vangelis’ score to Blade Runner. He is one of the few artists I can think of who can make the synthesizer sound reassuring.
His collaboration with MC Schmidt (Matmos), Post Merideim Construction is one of the highlights of the album, guitar and electrics that are relaxed and contemplative, filled with time, space and warmth. Though really, despite the myriad of ingredients and approaches, the whole album is one long hypnotic textural wash of experimental sound.
Tuttle is interested in the mechanical. In repetitive rhythmic electronics, but also in waves of sound, in attack and decay. It’s seduction and experimentation hand in hand, It’s a collage of overlay, not sharp edits and Slowcation is a fascinating, beguiling boundary pushing sensory experience.