Autistici | Slow Temperature

 Cat: AB030
 Time: July 10
 Media: Limited CD (Wallet) & Digital Download

 Info: Volume II brings together archive material from 
 2001 to 2005. The collection features abstract 
 ambience, a focus on microsounds and digital sculpting 
 of audio from everyday objects. 

 Artist site: 


 PDF Press Release: Download

 01. Waking The Sky 
02. Soft Grey Generator
03. Cutlery
04. Farm
05. Stone Steps Into Water
06. Counting Sleep
07. Projections From A Prayer
08. Carved From Lips
09. Meditation On Distance
10. 14 Switches On A Hidden Wall
11. Workshop For Ambitious Dreamers
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REVIEWS | Slow Temperature - Early Works (Vol II)

 A follow-up to the excellent Detached Metal Voice compilation of early material from Autistici, this second 
 installment covers works recorded between 2001-2005. Autistici is the recording alias of David Newman, head 
 of the Audiobulb label, though arguably his key work to date has come courtesy of the 12k label. The 2008-
 released Volume Objects remains an engagingly musical example of the microsound genre, though at the time 
 you'd never have expected Autistici to have already accumulated such a rich archive of material. Compared 
 with the first Early Works release, the music here is indicative of a more cultured technician, with pieces like 
 'Farm', 'Cutlery' and 'Stone Steps Into Water' revealing the workings of an accomplished experimental sound 
 engineer. Similarly, mysterious electroacoustic miniatures like '14 Switches On A Hidden Wall' or 'Soft Grey 
 Generator' stir up all manner of intriguing noises without sufficiently conforming to structure or narrative to be 
 thought of as compositions in any strict sense, but they're ideal material for this enjoyable retrospective series.

 While Detached Metal Voice was a somewhat diverse collection, ranging from the relatively straightforward to
 the more overtly experimental, Slow Temperature, the second instalment of early material is an altogether much 
 more coherent release and is in essence much closer to Newman’s two albums proper in the approach to 
 textures and how they fit in together. 

 Built primarily from sounds sourced from everyday objects and ambient noises, the tracks collected on Slow 
 Temperature documents how Newman progressively refined his sound by focusing on the subtle details of his 
 source components, and found a voice of his own. This is particularly evident on pieces such as Soft Grey 
 Generator, Stone Steps Into Water, Projections From A Prayer or Carved From Lips, as he arranges tiny sonic 
 particles into complex abstract structures. By combining environmental sounds and noises with stark electronics 
 and effects, Newman creates fascinating little worlds, each perfectly self-contained, which, despite sporadic 
 familiar flavours, appear totally alien and, at times, quite hostile. These can take on extremely minimal 
 appearances, as on Projections From Prayer for instance, which consists, for the most part, of very little more
 than a few layered metallic sounds, or Workshop For Ambitious Dreamers, with its short outbursts of electronics
 propelled into fragments of melody. At others, the soundscapes are far denser and richer, and have a 
 propensity to change, sometimes quite radically, a number of times during the course of a piece, as is the case 
 with Farm, which starts with clusters of noises and glitches, but soon evolves into a much more sombre drone, 
 criss-crossed with statics, what sounds at times like a bumblebee, and at others, like a much more undefined 
 hum, and, at one point, quite curiously, a duck.

 Autistici is David Newman, producer of lowercase digitalia for the likes of 12k and head of the Audiobulb label. 
 Slow Temperature is his second instalment of previously unreleased material, this time from between 2001-2005, 
 after April’s Detached Metal Voice; Early Works Volume 1. For a subsequently-compiled collection of presumably 
 unrelated tracks and off-cuts, Slow Temperature demonstrates a surprising degree of coherence and completion.

 Favouring clunky bleep tones and modulating digital gloop, all clouded in random hiss, much of Slow Temperature 
 recalls the likes of Daphne Oram, clipped Radiophonic Workshop products wedged into microsound structures. 
 Source material derives from Newman’s domestic and local environments, evident from track titles (‘Cutlery’, 
 ‘Farm’), and/or personal concerns (‘Counting Sleep’, ‘Workshop for Ambitious Dreamers’), and the music proceeds 
 in a fittingly low-key, welcoming manner. Introductory ‘Waking the Sky’ features strings of bird calls announcing the 
 day over murky haze and tape warble. ‘Stone Steps Into Water’ skips small blip pebbles into puddles, following the 
 ripples in their dank circles. ’14 Switches on a Hidden Wall’, the longest piece here at ten minutes, coats rusty 
 chimes and a sustained organ tone in flange and echo, while the two-minute sketch of ‘Soft Grey Generator’ pans
 crackle across the spectrum, and is just as pleasing.

 The second volume, subtitled Slow Temperature, contains more archival material from David Newman, featuring
 “abstract ambience, a focus on microsounds and digital sculpting of audio from everyday objects.” In this 
 selection, Autistici  explores silence, space and sound, reflecting on individual parts of his own life. The 
 composition is heavy with elements requiring your full listening attention, further decomposition, and reflective 
 analysis, worthy of sound installation in a museum, or an exclusive performance at this sound technician’s audio 
 lab. The last piece, Workshop for Ambitious Dreamers, is a study into the “manipulation of sinewaves, oscillators
 and analogue electro-harp plucks exploring themes of subjectivity and freedom in thought and speech.” Truly 
 remarkable, thought-provoking, and deep. You’ll need a few hours to absorb… Be sure to also pick up Autistici’s 
 lauded Volume Objects, released on 12k back in 2008.

 Though Slow Temperature - Early Works (Vol. 2) features music from a similar period of Austici's infancy, its 
 demeanour is discreetly different. Less mannered and self-conscious in its courting of 'darkness' or outright 
 weirdness, it suggests a transition towards the more approachable, though by no means docile, sound with 
 which the project may be more associated (cf. 2008's 12k coming out). The palette of abstract ambience, with 
 its microsonic sculpting of source sounds derived from quotidian objects familiar from that, his best known 
 release, is well in evidence, seguing from the pitch-shifted tones and warped ambient backdrop of an Asian 
 dawn chorus ('Waking The Sky') to the drones and phonographic-mekanik of "Soft Grey Generator"; from 
 "Cutlery"'s kitchen drawer realia to animalia against a peculiarly ambiguous rural ambience on "Farm". Artistic 
 ambit is increasingly that of interplay between silence, space and sound. There is also a notable propensity 
 for greater subtlety in his sound-collagism, evident in the minute bursts of electronics infusing a more composed 
 whole in "Stone Steps Into Water" and "Projections From A Prayer". And "Carved from Lips" signals more of an 
 ear for something approaching harmonic sensibility, albeit wilfully forsaken for uneasy atonalism as soon as the
 listener feels too comfily aligned with its lulling contours. "Meditation on Distance" is similarly perched between 
 outwardly blithe spirit and a slow fall inward, its surface organ harmonies woozily bending, riddled with tiny 
 glitch-darts and digi-fissures. Overall, Newman here exhibits a more cultured take on experimental sound 
 engineering with these enigmatic electroacoustic vignettes. Over the two early works, Autistici's nature 
 reveals itself, if not red in tooth and claw, certainly less refined, and, particularly on Slow Temperatures, none 
 the worse for it, properly 'experimental' in the truest sense of playing around with sound to see how it comes 
 out, and exploring various musico-transformative possibilities. 

 Back in Vital Weekly 720 I reviewed the first volume of 'Early Works' by Autistici and here is already the second 
 volume. It covers the period of 2001-2005, which made me think this project has been around for a longer period 
 of time than I thought. Its the project of David Newman, also responsible for the Audiobulb label, who culls his 
 sound material from everyday life: Asian dawn chorus, record player mechanics and animal calls. I forgot to 
 mention when that previous set of recordings was made, but this old material forecasts some of the later 
 interests of Newman. Already into the world of microsound, with lots of careful processing of sound. This 
 type of playing later resulted in 'Volume Objects', his 12K debut CD (see Vital Weekly 607). Maybe I think the 
 playing here is a bit more raw and unrefined, but it adds to the charm of the music. Its not that super refined 
 microsound of the latter work, but nice try-outs of material and exploring the various possibilities to transform 
 sounds into music. Overall a much nicer and more coherent release than the first volume of 'Early Works'.
 Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists. 

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