Redfish: Redfish

When a group uses its name as the title for its release, the gesture is sometimes interpreted as being of inordinate significance, that the album should be regarded as a manifesto or sorts for the group in question…or it might simply signify laziness or indifference, that with the hard labour of creating the music completed, the individuals involved had little energy left over to bother with something so minor as an album title. In the absence of any clarification as to the mindset Redfish duo Alexandre Navarro and Sasa Vojvodic (aka Letna) brought to the album titling process, we'll simply assume that for the two founders of the Paris-based SEM record label, the eponymous choice made the most sense. As always, it's the music that matters most, and the thirty-seven minutes of music featured on the self-titled disc (100 CD copies) are pleasing enough, if at times a tad unassuming.

Following a brief intro of voices uttering short phrases in French, Hebrew, and English (“Voyager”), the recording proper gets underway with “Horologium,” a good representative track for the whole and coincidentally the album's longest, too. With a shimmering backdrop in place, Navarro and Vojvodic speckle the ambient-drone with micro-flickers of static and what sound like tiny, guitar-generated sounds. “Gamma Arae” also stands out as a particularly impressive piece in the way its many layers coalesce into a thick, hazy whorl of crackling pulsations.

The album's eleven pieces suggest that Redfish's foremost preoccupation is with texture and atmosphere as opposed to melody or rhythm—which is not to suggest that the latter are necessarily absent but more alluded to. The tracks generally register as finely detailed conglomerations of tiny electronic and electroacoustic sounds woven into tapestries of largely unwavering character. Few if any dramatic arcs are present, though there are exceptions: “Indus,” for example, does gradually build in intensity as percussive accents are filtered into its dub-wise production design. Details assert themselves forcefully and distinguish one track from another—a loping beat pattern within “Arp87,” distinct guitar shadings and garbled voice murmurings in “RS Ophiuchi,” heavily treated guitar effects in “Libra,”and so on. As the album comes to a close, it becomes clear that If Redfish is to be taken as a manifesto for the project, it's one that argues on behalf of its creators' presumed belief in the value of restraint and understatement.

January 2014