156 “A Life Lived As If In Hell” cs (OUT OF BODY RECORDS, 2013)
156 is the cut up / field recordings project of NYC Based multimedia artist Adel Souto. 156 is apparently all field recordings and no “after market” sounds, just raw field recordings, but while many field recordings composed into an album can have a “compilation” sort of feel 156 seamlessly and skillfully weaves these raw recordings into a composition that for the most part, held my attention. The sources of the sounds have a wide range but always hold a similar recording aesthetic and rhythmic tension.
The A side starts off with some metal industrial rhythms which sound like machines scraping and pounding out their input/ output input/ output with no human in site, except for the microphone. These raw, early industrial influenced recordings slowly morph into layers of distorted howls. pings and scrapes, seemingly connected to but different from the recordings which came right before it. Perhaps some of the strongest points of this tape are the moments when you’re into a totally different “track” and yet you don’t even know how, sonically, you got there, a true sign of a seasoned and practiced vet at the chopping block. The low fidelity nature of the source material of course helps it to blend together, but 156 makes some concise and interesting mixing choices which emphasize that this is, in fact, a composition rather than a bunch of unrelated recordings spliced together. What sounds like a train running through a car wash or smashing into a metal shop on loop which accelerates with pacing and intensity near the end of the first side is the highlight of this cassette for me.
The B side starts out more subtly with a slow gentle pulsing wind sound, as if a microphone was held outside a car window and turned way down in the mix, and then sole subtle disagreement emerges … On a train ? On a plane ? Underground ? We don’t really know where we are or what’s being said, but we know it’s most likely an uncomfortable conversation and then the subtle rhythmic clacking of another unknown object and what sounds like poorly played guitar, reversed, and amplified through a long distant corridor over the top gives breath to a new section of the piece. KNIVES scrape scrape scrape, a creepy and lonely pulse, slow and itching, provides a great point of tension. 156 builds up the rhythms and loops on side B but it never quite holds the compositional weight that the A side did, but still a unique listening experience overall. For fans of early E N , S P K etc ….