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[The User]

I'm a sucker for a good conceptual idea, and Abandon from [The User] (who has previously wrote a symphony for dot matrix printers) is easily one of the best that I've heard in a long time. This album is a composition for the abandoned Silo Number 5 grain elevator in the Port of Montreal's Quai des Ecluses. A series of 88 tall empty cylinders (each 8 meters in diameter and 25 meters tall), the empty storage tubes were then fitted with speakers and microphones and 'played' as one might play an organ pipe or flute. Nicknamed, the 'Silophone,' it's a haunting places in which single notes ring out over one another and reverberation time spans up to nearly a half minute.

In a situation like the above, it might be easy to dismiss the whole thing as an exercise in form over function (after all, how accurately can signals be played with such huge derivation and lack of real control), but fortunately the sheer sonics of the place make up a lot of ground in this respect. Spanning 45 minutes and 9 tracks, this release isn't for listeners who want an immediate fix. After all, with the unique resonant frequencies of the building itself, it's more about sheer sound than anything else. There are no melodies to speak of, and no rhythm, only shifting tones of interesting depth and timbre.

The disc opens up with a rich low end that hums deep in the background as a constant while fluctuating pulses of feedback resonate and ripple across the surface like a theremin submerged under water. Occasionally, the soft edges harden, sending off glints of harsh noise before bending back on themselves. On track 3 (all untitled), low end sounds rumble steadily louder in the background, like an approaching storm while the same sorts of higher tones resonate with their same crystal wine-glass swirl. The tones that resonate through track 4 hit one of those zones that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Really, each listener will probably take something different from the release. As mentioned above, it's mainly for those who are into musique concrete and other super minimal forms of sound, as most listeners will find the lack of variation rather trying. Listened to on a good stereo comes close to capturing what was probably an amazingly tactile experience of sound (in which literal waves of music wash over you). In its past life, the facility could store enough wheat to make over 230 million loaves of bread, but now the place is deserted and has been reclaimed by sonic engineers. As someone who has a strange fascination with discarded and forgotten architecture, the recording takes on even more meaning as a historical document preserving a unique quality of the buildings that will in time probably be completely destroyed. If you think of it as listening to a forgotten building singing its sad song, the subtle and haunting tones take on a whole new life.

Rating: 7.25