Modular synthesis is one of those things that I (personally) can observe, witness, be taught extensively, and still have no idea how any of it works. And I kind of like it that way; I think I’m so partial to music that utilizes the modular synth as an active compositional tool because the method used is simultaneously so transparent and mysterious. Everyone has a unique approach to this incredibly versatile instrument, and we see the true magic that can be conjured by modular wizards on wonderful releases like alpha privative’s debut tape monoclinic. I know nothing about this new project other than the traditional meaning of the phrase “alpha privative” (the a- or an- prefixes in front of words like “asynchronous” or “anesthetic”) and that it originates from Denver, Colorado. monoclinic doesn’t necessitate much more context than that, though; its sheeny, languid currents of heavily processed concrete sounds are directly descended from the classic form of musique concrète practiced by eminent creatives like Beatriz Ferreyra or François Bayle, where not only is composition the final step in the music-making process but the final product is an array of sound whose origin is of no consequence, and all that’s left is an array of completely new materials produced through careful alteration, layering, and sequencing. The tape is also distinctly modern, however, with a subtle but pleasant element of conventional ambience nestled throughout the darkly effervescent cascades of ringing strings and gleaming chimes. At just 22 minutes, alpha privative’s inaugural release is a well-executed and concise exercise in abstract atmospherics.