Philip Samartzis & Lawrence English: One Plus One

Philip Samartzis & Kozo Inada: h [ ]

The talents of Australian electroacoustic composer Philip Samartzis get a thorough work-out on two radically contrasting EPs from ROOM40. On the first, he collaborates with minimal Japanese composer Kozo Inada for an understated 20-minute collage assembled from pure electronics and environmental recordings. Crowd noises, campfire crackle, bells, wavering tones, duck quacks, and electronic signals come together to form a slowly evolving tapestry of tactile textures and identifiable elements. Had h [] arrived six years earlier, it would have been a perfect addition to the Raster-Noton series 20' to 2000.

On One Plus One, Samartzis unites with Lawrence English for four pieces that are light years removed from the restrained soundscaping of h []. Instead, the duo generates ultra-detailed drones using turntables (Samartzis is a member of the Australian turntable group Gum). There's no scratching or anything else of the kind that might arise during a conventional turntable battle; instead, there are vinyl textures amplified to proportions so gargantuan you could drown in them. “Faster Than Cold” bursts forth as a rapidly churning mass of distorted voices and prickly noise while “Gut Bucket Blues” presents an oscillating drone of cricket calls and smears within which the blurred traces of a song repeatedly surface. The remaining pieces inhabit similarly vertiginous realms, their exploration of vinyl texture so deep one can't help but think of Janek Schaefer and Philip Jeck. The brief sampling of early jazz swing that appears at the end of the otherwise writhing “Phosphorescent Clouds” only intensifies that connection.

October 2006