Severiano Martinez
Clocks and Psandas
Shinkoyo
2003
B+



clocks and Psandas is broken into two distinct portions. The first is a suite of ticking, sine tones, bells and glitch rhythms. These comprise the first two tracks: “Clocks: You Wake Up” and “Clocks: You Go To Sleep”. The first in this suite features a steady rhythmic base reminiscent of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, if played entirely by electronic means. The two main competing melodic lines are primarily rhythmic in nature, jabbing one another, each coming to the forefront for a short time, only to be overtaken by the next permutation. The effect is something like looking at Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm, attempting to trace each one of the lines of Pollock’s canvas to its eventual end, only to find that you’ve picked up an entirely new line by accident. This process extends to infinity. Here, it lasts for 11 minutes. Martinez’s composition is a frenetic one, but one that is constant enough to calm, allowing the listener to both allow it wash over and engulf or for it be intently focused upon.

“Clocks: You Go To Sleep” is in a similar vein, featuring one major melodic line, wrapping itself slowly around an emergent rhythmic anchoring tone. The track is varies from the previous track, but similar enough that it’s obvious that it comes from the same person. The highlight of the album, perhaps, is its closer and longest piece (22 minutes), “Psandas”. The track trades the rapid pulse of the previous compositions for a more languid, ebbing phase piece that floats effortlessly along sinuous tendrils of sound, coalescing into melody. About halfway into the piece, it shifts into a sort of second movement, that references, in sound, Reich’s famous “Pendulum Music”. Overall, the track sounds, most accurately, like Keith Fullerton Whitman covering Steve Reich.

The final piece of the puzzle here is the packaging. Frequently, there is little to say about a jewel case and a simple insert, but the new Shinkoyo label has taken pains to avoid this, instead attempting to make the CD an art object. With the first three releases on the label, the packaging aesthetic is the same. Inside of a plastic slip cover, an embossed logo is placed on construction paper envelope. The colors are simple, yet effective and have a sort of DIY charm that only comes with the sort of time and effort that obviously went into making them.

Luckily, what’s inside the packaging is also a treasure to listen to. What Martinez has done here is updated the stunning minimalistic experiments of Reich for the digital age, creating a work so reminiscent of the past, yet original, that it sounds as it if was merely waiting somewhere to be unlocked. Martinez has this particular key, only time will tell if he has more.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-01-23
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