Access To Arasaka: void();
Tympanik Audio

void();, the latest Access To Arasaka salvo from Rochester, NY-based Rob Lioy and follow-up to 2009's Oppidan, scatters sixteen cryptically titled tracks—just try to say “kill_recorder=$c1,” “n->m_pkthdr.len,” “bpf_u_int32,” and “sys.argv[1:]” aloud—across its fifty-five-minute playing field. It's uncompromisingly computer-based music whose squiggly electronica has clear roots in the style Autechre birthed during its LP5 - EP7 period. Given its dystopic and futuristic character, it hardly surprises that void(); would take its inspiration from the history and, ahem, future of system hacking, and it's also fitting that it's pitched as an “open invitation for the listener to imagine what a computer might attempt to comprehend when its system is under such an attack.” Even so, Lioy brings the precision of a surgeon's eye and hand to the tracks' hyperactively ricocheting beats and the whirr and click of their writhing, synapse-firing electronics.

Don't, however, let its alienating song titles fool you into thinking that void(); is without musical merit. On tracks such as “syslog_ident” and “n->m_pkthdr.len,” Lioy undeniably does drench his material with a non-stop array of scalpel-sharp effects and textures, but he also balances it with some degree of clear-headed beat patterning and even an occasional melody. Overlook the inhuman title and a track like “[overwrite_ctr]” proves to have a human heart beating within it, and even, believe it or not, an emotional melodic core too. Like some fading signal from distant ancestors, a gentle melody calls out from the ice-cold center of “term/echo” before being sucked back into the cybernetic maze of dial tones and electrical cross-currents. A sombre undercurrent runs throughout the album, as if to suggest that the future, whatever technological marvels it may bring, will still feel in some ways like a paradise lost nostalgic for a more innocent era that can never be recaptured. One might think, then, of void(); and its brooding dose of IDM-for-cybernauts as amounting to a requiem-to-be of sorts.

January 2011