Craque: Supple

I've listened to Craque's Supple repeatedly for weeks now, thinking that perhaps it might eventually coalesce into a recording equal to Audiobulb's other recent releases—Ultre's The Nest & The Skull, He Can Jog's Middlemarch, and the 1 | Favourite Places compilation—but to no avail. Supple was created by electronic composer Matt Davis, who has been issuing music since 2001, with most of it until now having been distributed via net labels, often for free. The palette of sounds he draws upon derives from field recordings and an eclectic array of samples (e.g., stones, toys, plants, game calls, music boxes, hand percussion, wind instruments, shells, radios, etc.) which are configured on the fly into loops and effects, the spontaneous dimension indicative of the centrality of improvisation in Davis's stream-of-consciousness-like approach. Developed through a process that involves chance and discovery, the tracks feature layers of textures and sampled sounds that the producer shapes and arranges into rhythm tracks.

“Topless” weaves found sounds samples into fractured and fluidly mutating rhythm structures, with the crackle and thrum of a funky electronica beat rising to the surface to anchor the material, and eventually give the tune's treated piano tones and samples some welcome heft and punch. In “Berühren,” acoustic bass and broken beats stumble and stutter as they're chopped into the shuddering flow and speckled with digital noise, while bell accents and piano tinkles add ear-catching sounds to an otherwise brooding stream in “Supple Network.” Davis drops his own voice into the mix in “Sextant” to negligible effect, though the track does eventually cohere into a mildly arresting rhythm-driven blend of keyboard and guitar elements and ambient squiggles and clicks.

Unfortunately, compared to the other aforementioned releases, Supple underwhelms. With each of its pieces flecked with ample detail, the recording is anything but slapdash, but it just doesn't cohere into an overly compelling listening experience. There's nothing that grabs you by the throat and makes you stand to attention, and consequently Supple comes across as modestly diverting but not much more, maybe because there's no narrative development or build but instead an even-keeled, shape-shifting flow. Complex mixtures of acoustic, electronic, and sampled sounds intermingle, but an ongoing play of mutating sound alone isn't captivating enough. Ultimately, alas, the recording registers as a serviceable but not stunning collection.

April 2009