t is usually a contradiction when adjectives such as microscopic and massive both serve equally in describing a musician’s sound. Typically, it would be a journalistic farce—a writer attempting to grasp opposites and merely confusing the reader. And you may think I’m doing just that, but that would be a disservice to your ears, as well as Effacement’s astounding display of dynamics, subtleties, form, and technique.
Tomas Korber is a young Swiss/Spanish musician who has performed and played with many of the avant-garde’s mainstays—including Keith Rowe, Günter Müller, and Otomo Yoshihide. While appearing on innumerable collaborative albums and projects over the past few years, Effacement acts as a rare glimpse solely into Korber’s mind in which he illuminates a bright and wonderful collection of sounds. Split into six different compositions, Effacement begins with the momentous “Thermo.” A nineteen minute piece that slowly and intricately places glitches and minute digital scars atop one another, its power is hidden in the fact that you don’t realize your speakers are sputtering and spitting out a tornado of twisted sonic debris until you’re swallowed up in it. It is a sound both beautiful and terrifying—one that approximates a swarm of locusts or an amplified surge of electricity. Microscopic and massive.
“Wüste,” the following track, surrenders to silence for the majority of its duration, properly displaying a prominent feature throughout Effacement. The silence permeates a vast majority of the album and allows the gradual increase of feedback and burst of radio static on the “The Synaptic Spell” to retain a heightened importance. Yet, the most striking feature of Effacement is how fluid Korber’s transitions are between sound sources, approaches, and techniques. Gritty lo-fi noise of the aforementioned track cleanly follows “Fred Austere”’s gamelan-like guitar overtones, and the digital miasma of “Thermo” collides with a stunning, overwhelming silence.
Effacement, though, never feels disjointed or inconsistent. On the contrary, it sounds even better when heard in the uniform context of the entire album. The extreme dynamics of Effacement play to its advantage as the album’s experimental nature keeps the sound at once unpredictable and varied, but also unified and cohesive. This is a testament to Korber’s astute ear to take a variant of sounds and sources and craft an album as challenging, beautiful, and awe-inspiring as this.
Reviewed by: Ryan Potts
Reviewed on: 2006-02-02