Eight Frozen Modules
I've been following the work of Ken Gibson for some time now. As a member of Furry Things, he created some seriously bombastic guitar fuzz tracks, and with Eight Frozen Modules he has pushed the edges of electronic music into a rather schizophrenic fray with shattered breakbeats, loads of noise, and digitally deconstructed sound. The Abduction Of Barry is the latest step in his progression of sound and it's easily his darkest release yet. It crunches into territory similar to that of the recent work by Autechre, where it sounds like the machines have actually edged out the human side of the control palette, leaving an almost inhuman melange of sound.
The release actually opens with a quieter track entitled "In The Midst Of A Breakdown," but as you can probably gather from the title, it's by no means easy listening. It's all ominous tones that melt into one another and it sounds like the soundtrack to the movie Tron on a bad trip. On "Acute Episode," Gibson brings the beats, and they pummel down as crunched data spit out all sides as if the beats were beating the remains out of what was once a pretty melody (which still floats through the track uninhibited on occasion. The whole thing rewinds and bursts forwards, eventually lodging back on the beat and stumbling along through some post industrial wasteland.
"Electro-convulsive Therapy Committee" rips through the same sort of ground, shattering breakbeats over ominous tones and glints of spraying electronic blips and bleeps. Musically, it's so micro-processed that it's almost hard to wrap your head around the entire thing. It only sits still for precious few moments, and then it's on to hyper-frantic beats and pings and pops, threatening to burst at the seams at any moment.
When listening to the disc, I am reminded of the story by Harlan Ellison entitled "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" for some reason. It's partially the cold, almost inhuman edge that most of the release has to it, and partially due to the absolutely mind-bending amount of things going on within the music. It's the sort of short-attention span hypersonic spasms that would drive most people absolutely nuts (but yet some listeners thrive on). Other than work by Venetian Snares, I haven't heard anything quite so dark and yet intricately programmed in some time. It seems that both with the music and titles of the release, the goal of Gibson was to capture as much as possible (in an aural equivalent) schizophrenia or something very near it. Fascinating, and sometimes maddening.