Review: Dirch Blewn – Care Work (Soft Error, Feb 21)

“In January 2016, artist David Bloor spent 5 days in Flat Time House, London with a self built robot called Leonard. These are excerpts of recordings made during that time. ”

This is the brief yet very intriguing description of Care Work on Soft Error’s Bandcamp page. Even though, in my opinion, music can never be supported entirely by its concept, this one really piqued my interest. Thankfully, the album is every bit as engaging as its premise would imply, the odd sonic palette creating a truly unique atmosphere. Leonard the robot’s presence is always identifiable, the sounds of its movement and other unknown activities emerging from lethargic clouds of circuit drones and effects. Everything sounds very soft, almost organic; a surprise considering almost every element is electronic. Bloor also plays the Cocoquantus, a bizarre custom instrument that I’ve only ever seen used by Toshiji Mikawa in an incredibly loud noise set, so I have no idea what sound it’s making here. All this uncertainty, however, only adds to the experience. Care Work is mysterious, haunting, and oddly lonely; like I’m alone in a house, but it’s not mine, and there are things moving around just out of my line of sight that are neither malicious nor benevolent. A fascinating release to be sure, and if you’re skeptical because of my vague abstract descriptions, don’t take my word for it.

Side note: I accidentally discovered that this works well as a soundtrack to Brakhage’s Dog Star Man.