Review: Owen Davis – Interference (Lurker Bias, Jun 21)

My dishwasher currently has a strange ailment: it doesn’t seem to be malfunctioning in any way other than it now produces a mid-range tonal hum. Despite this sound being completely unintentional, it still introduces an undeniable hint of foreboding into my home, and blends well with the ominous washes of grating electronics and virtuosic percussion improvisations conjured by Owen Davis on Interference. I begin my writing with this unusual observation because of how important the relationship between concrete physicality and detached injections is to Davis’s newest release; as Nick Meryhew writes regarding the “Slime Fence” suite, “the boundary between drums and electronics becomes profoundly blurred; the assemblage seems to briefly coalesce.” Purely based off opening track “Crinkly,” where a seething electric cacophony is disrupted by the entry of a furious snare roll in the right channel, one might think that Interference is a People Pleaser-esque collage of free drumming and unruly electronics, but Davis is more concerned with treading and mapping the no-man’s land in between the two elements, switching their places on “Slime Fence II” or even simulating one with the other on “Insistent.” I hesitate to compare this well-crafted work to my sub-par home appliance, but it does tap into the same uneasiness that arises when defined sonic roles are disrupted, when the line that separates two distinct sound sources becomes “profoundly blurred.”