Erdem Helvacioglu & Per Boysen:
Sub City 2064
Erdem Helvacioglu's latest recording finds the Turkey-based electronic producer and guitarist teaming up with Swedish freelancer Per Boysen for an hour-long instrumental set the two conceived as a sci-fi horror soundtrack of sorts. Though Helvacioglu has made his reputation in part for his explorative guitar work, Sub City 2064 is most assuredly not an album that simply places guitar soloing front and center and relegates everything else to the background. The material's broad sound palette draws as much upon electronics and electronic processing as it does Helvacioglu's guitar and drum machine and Boysen's alto flute and tenor saxophone (Boysen also contributes guitar to the project), even if it's often the juxtaposition of woodwinds and guitar that gives the material a distinctive character (also ear-catching is the way Helvacioglu mutates his guitar sound so that it resembles a bowed cello).
The album has the feel of an open-ended travelogue, with each of its ten tracks exploring a particular mood and texture. “Radiation Patrol” suggests the gates of some monstrous structure opening, whereas “Metal Sky,” spurred on by bubbly electronic patterns, blends alto flute passages and a raw guitar attack into a trippy space setting. “Reef Edge Race” pushes a heavier, post-rock-styled attack in combining rough guitar riffing and drum machines, while the later “New Prospects” percolates with a combustible intensity that likens it to post-rock too. In “Physalia Physalis,” Boysen's flute leads the way in channeling the slow burn of Eastern-styled mysticism, and the duo even take a stab at reggae in the album closer “Future Wide Open.” At times, the material churns turbulently (“Metal Sky”) and at other times opts for a languor that's both dusty and bluesy (“Legends of Lost Land”).
Though the material was created as a long-distance collaboration, the material often conjures the image of two musicians working together in a personally owned studio, contentedly exploring ideas and directions at their leisure until, hours of tape under their belts, the two edit and reshape the session results into succinct settings. While listening to Sub City 2064, I was reminded of Gong, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Faust, and David Torn, among others; no doubt the album will remind each listener of other artists too. Not that the album's derivative or overly indebted to others' recordings; it's more that, being so wide-ranging, Sub City 2064 can't help but step into areas others have trod before it.