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Monday, August 30, 2021

gabby fluke-mogul, Jacob Felix Heule, Kanoko Nishi-Smith - non-dweller (Humbler Records, 2021) ****

By Keith Prosk

gabby fluke-mogul, Jacob Felix Heule, and Konoko Nishi-Smith freely play frictional, tensive though understated environments for violin, bass drum, and koto on the two half-hour tracks of non-dweller.

Heule and Nishi-Smith have been a working group for over a decade now, most recently releasing "brittle feebling" with Kyle Bruckmann and Tom Djll some months before non-dweller. The duo began working with fluke-mogul in 2019, recording non-dweller the same year. fluke-mogul has experienced a bit of a breakout year in 2021 with the solo "threshold" and at least one more collaboration - a kind of string quartet - scheduled for later this year.

The sound is more textural than tonal. Bass drum skin and rim massaged with fingers, brushes, and other objects in often charybdian motion to emit dull whirrs, howling resonances, and other circular sounds between - almost always played parallel to the drum head rather than struck perpendicularly. Koto bowed and plucked, sawed and muted, its traditional tonalities and characteristic decay masked to make an instrument closer to pure pulse. The violin likewise sawed, flayed, sighing from the soft tickle of the bow, creaking and cracking from its weight, whistling like a kettle under more even pressure, with some classic romantic gestures. While some sounds are hard to source, like pizzicato that could be mistaken for flute pops, this is not acousmatic, the instrumental identities nearly always apparent. And though the trio often operates in a tight timbral range, the densities and dynamics through which they communicate are diverse and fleet footed. Despite a paucity of discrete overt percussion, the trio often locks into a groove, the cyclical cadences of drum swash and string bowing returns and other recurring textures phasing into sequence for a time, some pure plodding rhythm like cavedweller work song. 

For its measured maelstrom of noise, these are quiet techniques, and demonstrate the volatility of navigating the thresholds between sound and silence and the peculiar distortions that occur when sounding and listening at a smaller scale.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.


Anonymous said...

Please check the bandcamp link. It does not point to the right location.
It should read

Richard said...

This sounds terrific. On a lighter note, you folks are having serious difficulties posting links lately.

Stef said...

Apologies for the wrong link. Rectified!