Autistici: Volume Objects

Autistici's Volume Objects is a near-perfect exemplar of the found-sound sculpting aesthetic. What makes the recording so satisfying is that David Newman (aka Autistici as well as manager of the Audiobulb imprint) uses sonic textures and field recordings in the service of a thoroughly worked-through compositional design. Sounds are not used recklessly or indulgently but instead arranged to form intimate sound spaces that invite reflection. The tactile dimension is strongly evident—something track titles such as “Wire Cage for Tiny Birds” and “Broken Guitar, Discarded Violin” strongly reinforce—but they're merely starting points, not ends in themselves. The sounds of innumerable minute phenomena—dust on a window, a door opening, bodily noises—are transformed radically to simulate the clack of a typewriter's keys and gamelan tinkles. Though many of the nine “audio narratives” opt for ambient stillness, Autistici isn't afraid to shake things up: “Broken Guitar, Discarded Violin” flirts with conventional musical territory by pairing the rough saw of a violin with the pluck of a damaged guitar, while parts of “To Human Form” could pass for avant-techno of an admittedly heavily abstracted, electroacoustic type. Elsewhere, Newman strikes an admirable balance between structure and looseness; the material clearly reflects the imprint of the arranger's hand yet also unfurls in loose and organic manner. The textural detail alone is captivating: in “Ageless Visitor, Eroded Time,” swooshing noises, cannonading ruptures, and ambient tones swirl within a soft stream of static particles; and in “Attaching Softness to a Shell [C],” a descending synthesizer motif induces entrancement alongside the whispered chatter of insectile organisms. Throughout the album, the listener surrenders to the seductive pull of the rich flow of detail and texture. An eight-page booklet displaying achromatic photographs inspired by the track titles and taken by Taylor Deupree nicely enhances the release too.

March 2008