Review: Joakim Blattmann – Bird Helmet (Dinzu Artefacts, Jul 13)

With a sonic arsenal as comprehensive as Joakim Blattmann’s on Bird Helmet, it’s no surprise that a very particular—and abstract—atmosphere can be conjured so well. The prolific artist, whose body of work mostly consists of live performances and installations with physical music releases seeming to be a rarity, constructs a lush sound environment of avian-adjacent sonorities, from actual field recordings of birdsong to spectral electronics and manipulations that evoke wings and flight in a much less straightforward way. The detailed collages of processed guitar, tape, and contact mic recordings act as a cradle for the untouched fragments of nature that occasionally emerge, sometimes complementing and assimilating the organic elements as mentioned previously, and other times drawing attention toward the disparity of source. Blattmann’s powerful, layered creations are both weighty and woozy, dense and filled with energy even as they drift with airy freedom. “Triel” ends up as a very physical track with its seething electric drones and tense rattles, with sparingly used violin contributions from Per Waago laced throughout. Bird Helmet isn’t a very long tape, but it’s just as pleasingly indecipherable as its enigmatic title; I think that unpacking all of its layers will take quite some time.