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Oak Or Rock

Oak Or Rock
(Rune Grammofon)

Phonophani is Espen Sommer Eide, who also records under the name of Alog. While his work as Alog focuses on slightly more rhythmic pieces that call to mind some sort of deconstructed murky jazz-looped thing, his work as Phonophani explores the realm between electronic and acoustic sounds. The title of his new album is actually a play on how natural elements are perceived, and yet listening to this release, there's really no question at all that this could have only been made in a digital age.

A somewhat mixed-bag of results, Oak Or Rock finds Eide using everything from guitars and vibraphone to the human voice and cello. He takes apart sounds and melodies and then pieces them back together from base elements, and the result isn't completely removed from what you might expect from more experimental work by Nobukazu Takemura. "Earth Diver" opens the disc with a fluttering wash of music-box tones, and it ranges back and forth quickly from beautiful to almost squealing. "A Lion Lies Listening" is more successful, mixing wordless vocals with weird, almost 8-bit tones that repeat and skip randomly, creating odd melodies that drift away as soon as they are formed.

"The Boiling Fjords Orchestra" is one of the more beautiful tracks on the entire release, opening with quiet electronic skitterings before building into a huge, swelling beast that fits the title almost perfectly. In some places, the album just feels a bit too loose to really hold your attention. "Take Off Your Wooden Coat" is just over 4 minutes of aimless electronic squiggles while "The Melancholic Giant" meanders around mixing random sine tones with filtered vocals for a wobbly haze. While there are definitely standout tracks on the release, it feels much more unfocused than the other work that I've heard by Eide. A slight letdown from the usually very reliable label (and artist).

Rating: 6