Soundtrack for Dislocation
Soundtrack for Dislocation is the first full-length album for Elevator Bath from Matt Shoemaker, who has previously issued material on Trente Oiseaux, The Helen Scarsdale Agency, Mystery Sea, and Ferns Recordings. The fifty-seven-minute recording lives up to its title with three pieces that ooze dramatic portent and unease. Complemented by Shoemaker's own beautiful photography, the CD release was ‘assembled' by the Seattle-based composer in fall and winter of 2008. Though field recordings were used minimally, no production-related details beyond that are cited so whatever other sound sources Shoemaker drew upon to produce the three cryptic pieces remains a mystery. That sense of mystery extends to the settings themselves, which are allusive in the extreme, though what exactly is being alluded to is more suggested than spelled out. In this case, however, the inscrutable character of his creations works to Shoemaker's advantage, as the listener remains engaged no matter what. Absorbing the recording as pure sound proves to be a rewarding enough experience all by itself.
In “Arrival,” sine tones whistle and waver, arising and then receding into oblivion, amidst a gloomy backdrop of creaking and rustling. The persistent whirr of a cricket drone suggests that it's night-time while fuzzy outlines of activity hint at a human presence; though softly screeching hydraulic noises suggest that we're in an industrial setting, the material slowly builds into a nightmarish mass that leaves behind any singular associative context. “Fuse Error Phantom” plunges the listener into a maelstrom of blustery noise and radio frequency static for four minutes before abruptly ceasing, after which the track, phoenix-like, rises again in the form of accreting layers that swell into an ever more impregnable mass. The album's thirty-six-minute opus, “Circulation Within the Elemental Drift,” comes into being as a warbling drone whose pulsations imbue the material with a sense of urgency, until a state of crepuscular calm sets in, with machines thrumming peacefully and an airplane passing over. Of the three pieces, it's this one that develops more patiently in the way it gradually assumes shape as a thick, drifting field of percussive strikes and keening tonal blur. When the man-made presence withdraws to allow chirping birds and a barking dog to dominate the closing minutes, the unexpected appearance of natural sounds proves to be startling. Elevator Bath doesn't flood the market with releases, so when a new release from the label appears it's somewhat of an event, and Soundtrack for Dislocation is no exception.