b°tong: Structures

In a former incarnation, Chris Sigdell spent many years toiling as a member of German/Swiss experimental electronica collective NID before stepping out in 2005 with his first b°tong album. Recorded between 2005 and 2006, Structures finds Sigdell extending the b°tong style into the dark nether regions of experimental electronic sound sculpting. That the album's material exudes an isolationist and severe character is entirely apropos, given that it was inspired by a visit to the Jukkasjärvi ice palace in Sweden. Field recordings, processed electronic materials, haunted drones, industrial noise, and samples (drawn from television, radio and film, recordings of natural and artificial sounds, and his own voice) all meld into a gloomy and ice-cold, forty-seven-minute excursion into dark ambient chambers. A strong undercurrent of violence also flows through much of the material, including, ahem, “Hands Up: Who Wants To Die?” and “Motherlode,” a disturbing industrial sound painting where violent ruptures shatter the gloom. No one should be surprised either when the ten-minute “Stalker” plunges the listener into a psychotic realm of reverb-drenched blasts and poisoned drones. The journey isn't always so harrowing: “Tu Me Degoute!” is more of a naturalistic sound collage than gloomscape (crickets, a French woman speaking, and water pouring are among the sounds heard), and “Black Dog Dream” presents a more subdued take on the industrial-ambient form. An inner sleeve photo of Sigdell is overlaid by the words “…This is an invocation, a journey into the void…,” certainly a promise that Structures lives up to.

April 2009