Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mutant Beatniks - Abstract (2012)


Mutant Beatniks is the most recent banner beneath which one finds the labouring form of Shaun Robert, he whom men once knew as factor X, cassette stalwart and provider of strange and unusual sounds for nearly three decades. Abstract continues his work at the far edge of recognised terms for art accessed by means of one's ears which, to some, may resemble an hour or so of random electronic farts or, in at least one case, the soundtrack to the animated Curly & Straight films that used to feature on Rainbow - the children's TV show rather than the workmanlike rock band.

Aside from the puzzling harmonica swing of Unit, this isn't music, the cynic might suggest, a point to which I will return in a moment. If not music, then Abstract is certainly sound, and seemingly acoustic sound warped and abstracted from its origins, electronically twisted into new forms. There really isn't much in the way of notes or tones, but then Abstract isn't even what you would call ambient music. It's too disjointed to be considered restful or to sit comfortably in any environment other than the conceptual space of the listener's skull. Rather, this is sound stripped of context and pressed up against the side of the glass, presented for consideration on it own merits. There's not much point bringing expectations to this table - not even musically liberal expectations of the kind one might associate with artists like Nurse With Wound, for Abstract works purely on it's own terms, and the greatest benefit is to be had from simply accepting the fact.

This may all sound somewhat arbitrary - a variation on finding oneself lost in the contemplation of fire extinguishers or door handles as you leave the art gallery - but I'd suggest there is little left to random chance here on the grounds that the juxtaposition of clipped voices, gated electrical noise, and whatever else has gone into the mix works too well, suggesting choices made during the process of assembly. Because Abstract serves as such a wonderful demonstration of art being as much what one chooses to exclude as anything, I'd say that unfortunately for traditionalists, the strange alien landscapes you will hear on this disc actually are music, and that it takes serious talent to build something so engrossing from such unfamiliar elements.

Available from Pharmafabrik

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