Mark Harwood – Offering (Penultimate Press)


I don’t know what this is. Maybe Harwood doesn’t either as he’s just titled it Offering. It’s definitely that, but it’s so disjoined, collaged, unmusical and fragmented that it’s very difficult to work out what kind of offering it is. It feels quite personal, but I can’t even tell you why this is. The fragments of old timey music at the start? The warts and all recording practices? The extensive use of the human voice – more often with nonsensical utterances? Does that make it personal? Or is it personal because a person made it? See how many questions I’ve asked in barely a paragraph of writing? Offering does that. It has you searching for meanings between sound connections. It makes you wonder and listen to it intently. What is Harwood’s intention? What is he trying to say?

I feel there’s an element of not wanting to align himself to anything, a response to something that we’re not even aware of, so everything has to be on its own, uniquely of nothing – its true meaning only apparent to him. There are moments of ritual, bastardised folk, musique concrete, collage, field recordings, and these strange episodes of sound are imbued with gravitas, though occasionally also a weird and beautiful dementia – particularly ‘Violence (Screaming)’ which you can listen to below. I find this approach to sound both challenging and intriguing. It’s experimental as hell and I’m not sure what its for. It raises way more questions than it answers – which is always a good thing.

What is pleasing though is that Harwood seems to have overcome the existential angst, anxiety and midlife crisis vibe of his previous release A Perfect Punctual Paradise Under My Own Name from a couple of years ago. So that’s a positive. Onward and upward!


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.