Review: Butoh Sonics – Flickers of Light (Lurker Bias, May 14)

The three extended improvisations on Flickers of Light find their footing in clunks, clatters, and caterwauls, conjuring erratic soundscapes shrouded in oppressive shadow. The mysterious group known as Butoh Sonics doesn’t rely on reliable structural elements such as drones or repeated motifs to construct their music; instead, it often seems that the only persistent presence to latch onto is the darkness that encases every strained prepared guitar coax or metallic rattle. Needless to say, this makes Flickers of Light quite a disorienting experience, and listening to it ends up feeling like a stumble through some terrifying abandoned junkyard. Each piece clocks in at around fifteen minutes, and though the performers seems to have quite the arsenal of sound-making devices available at their disposal, they stick with seemingly stagnant cacophonies that progress at a nearly imperceptible pace. It’s often only the subtle introduction of a new texture that pulls the heavy, lethargic body of noise along, slowly dragging it across a jagged floor of scrap metal, broken effects pedals, and who the hell knows what else that gets picked up along the way. Flickers of Light is an intense and immersive journey through Butoh Sonics’ subversive sensibilities, a ravaged landscape of crumbling machinery and rusting remnants harnessed through the ears and bodies of creative improvisers.

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