A horrible hack

Opcion

Monus/Und

Year Released: 2015
Format: LP
Label: God Records
 
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Feb 17, 2018
OPCION positions himself as a multidisciplinary artist, "active in the areas of sound, vision, space and in the fields between." This is his first major release under the name - some compilation tracks and remixes precede it - and on the 12" we have one side of solo tracks, and one side of pieces constructed using collaborative improvisations as a starting point for editing. Placing the needle in the usual spot on the LP gets you nothing but a silent run-out groove, since the record plays from the inside outwards.

The solo material is abstract electronica, dark and moody, a distant relative to the dancefloor but spending long periods making only the occasional gesture towards pattern or sequence. Chunky, squirmy bits of bassline wind through parts of second piece "monos 2", alongside an eerie, druggy high-pitched moan. The rotted teeth-splinters of some overarching rhythm clash together - the foreground noises start to sound a little like a distant modulation of a voice. The opener "monos 1" grows through fluttering backgrounds, glitchy snares and long winding trails of buzzes, sporadic bass bumps and jerky rhythms coalescing together gradually until finally a hi-hat pulse is discernible and the drums occupy the forefront. It has a sort of borrowed futuristic feel, meticulously planned but drawing on a sparse Warp Records-y sonic language. "monos 3" has a soporific, dubby beat that's recognizable as actual human drumming, but which drops in and out, choppily interrupting its own metre, while obnoxious insects seem to buzz around. Although the background noises pulse with the drumbeat subtly but satisfyingly, this isn't as much of a repeat listen as the other two.

The collaborations are more of a noise artist (TM) sort of affair. First, working with Maja Osojnik, the duo serve up a punchy beginning, drifting clouds of noise and intensities, strands of bleeps and static, robotic shearing and slippages. A pause, and a long central section of mild hums and susurrations, ghostly organ tones, giant hourglasses. Later shuddering beats. It's fruitful, diverse. The final two tracks feature lots of deliberate ominousness, unease and sudden shock attacks, sometimes over-egging the mix with a determination to be edgy. That said, the track with Bernhard Loibner is spacious and reverbed and has some cool uses of modulation to create dimensional effects, as if objects are pivoting in space in front of you, creating different senses of perspective and scale. Somewhere in there are objects scraping across the rough surface of wound bass strings, manic twiddling of tuning pegs. Final track with Kurt Bauer is at its best when using the violin to create eerie textures, but also relies heavily on dynamic contrast and bears the clear imprint of "performative" real-time knob twiddling, the sort that goes loud, soft, harder, soft, HARDER, soft, HARDER, soft, RIGHT UP TO 10, ReALLy iNtEnSe. SqueeeEEell!

It's all polished and sonically interesting, but at its best is an accomplished play with existing musical tropes. There's a pleasing attention to space, interaction and balance in evidence, but it would take a more distinctive or coherent aesthetic angle to give it a re-visit factor.


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