Tim Catlin & Machinefabriek: Glisten
Low Point

Machinefabriek: Loops for Voerman

Glisten combines the collaborative talents of Melbourne, Australia-based Tim Catlin (guitars, effects) and Machinefabriek (additional sounds and editing by Rutger Zuydervelt from Rotterdam) on nine tracks of low-key soundsculpting. The tracks are spectral and noctural in spirit, and the album's thirty-five minutes often resemble psychic disturbances pushing their way into semi-consciousness. Apparently Zuydervelt happened upon Catlin's work, specifically his 2007 Radio Ghosts release, when he was researching information on prepared guitar, and a subsequent partnership developed. With respect to production process, Caitlin created prepared guitar recordings of diverse character (from experimental to conventional picking), and then passed them on to Zuydervelt for further manipulations. The two gravitate towards understatement in their focus on the minutiae of the guitar and the broad sound field that can be extricated from it. The nine tracks feature ripples and vibrations (“Flutter”) and spectral drones of soft gamelan bell tones (“Glisten 1”), and while the electric guitar is dominant , the acoustic has a moment in the spotlight too (“Arpeggio”). With its childlike tinkles floating over darker tones, “Ghostbox” introduces a macabre ambiance that calls to mind the disturbed mood of The Turn of the Screw. Glisten is largely a subdued, ‘headphones'-styled album, though “Haul” proves the exception to the rule when it rises from an initial organ-like drone episode to one where the guitar first simmers, then smolders, and eventually snarls before abruptly terminating. That loud flourish is conspicuous by being the only one of its kind on this otherwise carefully controlled collaborative outing.

Loops for Voerman is an animal of a slightly different kind, though not one entirely unlike Glisten in spirit. In this case, Zuydervelt created a musical piece for an art installation sculpture by Rob Voerman (originally presented on a three-way speaker system in September 2009 at Leidsche Rijn Park in Utrecht) that's presented in a single, fifteen-minute form. It's a haunting work where bowed string tones scrape against, puncture, and repeatedly pierce a bed of gloomy twilight intonations. Though the piece may be predicated upon a loop-based cycling of sounds, it never feels repetitive in any strict sense but rather like a constant unfolding through alternating moments of metallic ebb and flow. The production methodology may differ from that used to create Glisten, but there's a kindred unsettling character to Loops for Voerman that holds one's attention.

January 2010