Review: snmtmns – Convolved Spaces (Soft Error, Jul 26)

Newcastle musician D. Dixon’s new tape as snmtmns, Convolved Spaces, is beautifully insubstantial, from the music itself to the simplistic cover design and uninformative track titles. Composed using field recordings, “semi-modular synthesis,” and digital signal processing, the tracks progress through minimal variation and expansion on already sparse, spectral structures. It’s a purposefully reserved approach, and allows Dixon to draw attention to the auditory properties of these quiet, cryptic sounds, forcing the listener to maintain patience and attentiveness. Though they (presumably) use multiple tools, for the most part the constructions are presented as single entities, homogeneous amalgams of their components – with the exception of closing track “B2,” which explores a sort of call-and-response relationship between metallic drones and outbreaks of modular crackles. I love when perspective is forcibly directed toward such subtlety, and when it’s done well this magnification can make the music so much more rewarding; and when it’s not done well it’s incredibly frustrating. Thankfully, the former is true for Convolved Spaces; I find it capturing my attention even more than considerably more bombastic and lush music.