David Evans is best known as the percussionist for Melbourne instrumental post rock outfit This is Your Captain Speaking; though he has previously released a number of more experimental solo albums, including 2011’s Internal Temporal Order and 2013’s Domestic Cinema.
On transitions there isn’t any percussion in sight, nor is there any other musical instrumentation. To state the obvious, it’s a pretty bold outing for a percussionist/ musician. But perhaps that’s the point. Why limit yourself?
He’s working with field recordings, and he’s using these unidentified sounds as compositional ingredients. What the sounds are, or where he gathered them is never explicit, it’s more about how he shapes them, and the sound world they become. It feels like electro acoustic music, where environmental sounds have combined with extended musical techniques, yet this is not the case. It’s all field recordings, and all about the editing. The pieces extend, evolve and devolve, interact, but mostly build over time gradually over time.
For a guy who’s world has previously existed musically, his ability to subtly alter sounds over long periods of time is absolutely amazing. There is subtlety here, a real, somewhat minimal sonic understanding of the way sound worlds can develop. Evans’ touch is deft, his developments seamless – even welcome. There’s even a certain beauty and warmth in his approach. But make no mistake this is sound art. There are elongated sonic drones, mechanical throbs and everything in between. Yet to be honest this is some of the most minimal, unrestrained and compelling sound art this writer had heard in a long time.
The highlight is ‘Razor Grinder Chorus,’ a seven-minute plus piece that begins with bugs (or are they sprinklers?) and incrementally develops over time, picking up sonic barnacles and developing into a remarkable highly rhythmic chorus. It’s one of many occasions where Evans is able to insert some obtuse musicality into his field recordings, and as a result it makes it significantly easier to connect emotionally. He works with textures, drones, reverberations, oscillations, and frequencies, the recordings are at times treated with delays and reverbs, yet not to the detriment of the sounds themselves.
Transitions is significantly more developed, more subtle and assured than his previous work. In moving from the stool he’s developed these powerful all encompassing sound worlds that simultaneously feel strange and familiar, where understanding is close, yet frustratingly, or perhaps fascinatingly just out of grasp.