antmanuv: vague

VA: overshadow

Though vague is issued on his own antmanuvMICRO label, Tomane Vinagreiro's antmanuv album might just as easily have been released on 12k, so reminiscent at times is it of the musical style associated with Taylor Deupree's imprint. Vinagreiro, a one-time Portugal and now Ontario, Canada resident, creates textured and carefully-sculpted soundscapes with a pronounced emphasis on industrial and natural elements (processed field sounds from Canada, Portugal, and France figure heavily in the recording). Whistling tones and field sounds (water and birds) are paired with simple tribal percussion and voice patterns in the opener “Urban Park,” offering a representative indication of the album's overall tone. A softly churning machine base is overlaid by loud looping patterns and electronic signals in “Anxiety” while amplified insect chirp and scurrying noises similarly overlay a central drone in the eleven-minute “Premonition of Charm.” I'm unclear as to what purpose is served by the title track's sample of women discussing skin products and hair colouring though it does add contrast to the otherwise instrumental release; contrast of a different sort emerges in “The Net & the Sea” where blurry clusters of spacey synths recall Tangerine Dream. Compared to 12k's material, Antmanuv's meditative pieces seem looser, more free-floating and, while they're interesting enough, that meandering quality renders them less engaging than they might otherwise be. Put simply, the album's eight pieces would be enhanced by greater contrast in dynamics and more dramatic development.

No such weaknesses plague the 77-minute collection overshadow as its fifteen pieces occupy a considerably broader and more captivating mix of soundscaping zones; interestingly enough, antmanuv's contribution to the comp betters anything on vague: the style may be little changed but the industrial patterns that repeat throughout “haptic fingerprint II” pan, pause, intensify in volume—generally absorb the listener's attention through constant transformation. Forceful, too, are house of snakes' “black mamba,” with its seething, hypnotic waves and smothering fields of whirrs, throbs, and static, and “int.9/39” by @c (Pedro Tudela + Miguel Carvalhais), a percolating, occasionally convulsive field of prickly shrapnel.

Many pieces are arrhythmic sound sculptures of about five minutes' duration and subtly morphing character. Vitor Joaquim's “Time goes by” nurtures ethereal melancholy as its faint piano sounds filter through dense rippling screens; unsettling by comparison, dieb's “Springen” features moans drifting through cavernous, echo-laden tunnels. Needless to say, the upbeat Latin-flavoured dance rhythms that surface in The Infant Cycle's “Unrelated Work Tapes 10/17/04” contrast strikingly with such relatively static settings. It's not alone in prominently featuring rhythm elements ('s “underwater parties” and cáncer's techno-flavoured “situación” do also); the percussion and light-footed rhythms in AMANV's (an alternate antmanuv guise) “ritual” even sound vaguely African. Other contributors venture into other styles, like LOD's lovely “grey,” for instance, a delicate instrumental sampling of melodic electronica. Ultimately, the 12k connection extends to overshadow, too, as its wide-ranging approach recalls 2003's Two Point Two, a similarly satisfying (though double-disc) collection from 12k and Line.

June 2005