Konntinent: Degrees, Integers
Symbolic Interaction

Londoner Antony Harrison (aka Konntinent) follows his recent split disc with Adam Fynn (issued on Sonicpieces) with a fifty-five-minute full-length that nicely shows what he's capable of. At certain moments, the Konntinent sound can feel a bit like a work-in-progress when the material restlessly shape-shifts (“Nassau Tree,” for example, begins meditatively alongside a field recording of conversational babble, then grows into a spirited post-rock charge before ending with a peaceful splash of acoustic guitar), but that's not unusual for a debut album. When the smoke clears, the style comes across like a heavily-processed and elaborate take on post-rock with tremolo guitars (reminiscent at times of Labradford) shuddering across blurry fields of ambient tones.

Throughout this impressive collection, Harrison shows himself to be deft in his careful sculpting of mood. A setting such as “Grasp of Math (integers edit)” exemplifies a laudable control in its shaping of ambient textures (strings, electronics, shredded voices) and haunted atmospheres. Making full use of its nine-minute running time, the central track, “Call Gignas,” arguably showcases the Konntinent style most effectively. Against a slow-motion background of high-pitched droning tones and gaseous textures, Harrison 's tremolo guitar arcs so gracefully it could induce hypnosis. While common threads run throughout the album's tracks, individual pieces are differentiated in unique ways too: “My Shoulders Are As Wide As Your Hope Is Heavy” wraps disembodied vocal choruses in ghost-like counterpoint; “Syckl Cell” adds Raster-Noton-styled clicks-and-cuts to the lulling flow; and “Broken Sleep in an Empty Room” merges industrial machine noise and martial drumming. Adopting a recitative style, vocalist Felicia Atkinson spreads her slow-motion murmur over elegant, low-level guitar atmospheres in “It Was Almost Effortless,” the spareness of the arrangement a nice contrast to the density that otherwise characterizes the album. In keeping with the “binary” spirit of its title, the concluding “Primary Tertiary” offers a stark contrast between hazily-textured sound sculpting and the clean pluck of Harrison 's electric guitar playing. While not the most critical detail, it's still worth noting that Degrees, Integers is also one of those cases where the cover photograph—in this case, an open field with an immense expanse of sky visible above—and musical content dovetail perfectly.

April 2009