Review: Fissures – rOto rElieF (self-released, Feb 2)

I never seem to run out of great music to review from Belgian sound artist Ludovic Medery (a.k.a. Fissures), nor does he ever seem to run out of inspiration or motivation for making some of the finest contemporary acousmatic music out there. rOto rElieF is simply the latest in an oeuvre that also includes wonderful releases such as RituelsLes voix du matin, and MORPHOSIS (two of which I’ve written about for this site), but like all of Medery’s work it doesn’t at all suffer from his predilection for prolificacy. “Face A” carves out a stuttering, hypnotic form from a series of concrete sound loops; there’s rhythm in the sense of reliable repetition but not nearly enough to grab onto for support as even more shifting components are added to the mix, notably the fragmented speech samples that kick in around the three minute mark. In accordance with the playful, colorful surreality of the album cover, the piece is unstable but nonetheless vibrant and infectious as it maintains its tottering amble, briefly falling into respite before a new mess of kinetic, mangled clink and clatter takes hold. The gap between “A” and “B” is astutely stitched together by a fractured tape recording, which despite presenting a largely familiar and unmanipulated sonic environment is almost as jittery and space-defying as the more abstract sounds that preceded it. It’s also an appropriate lead-in to the latter half of the album, which starts things off with an array of more organic-sounding elements than the former before returning to the unifying palette of squeaking machinery. rOto rElieF is a symphony of moving parts, microscopic mechanisms, organized entropy; if you’ve ever found yourself enraptured by the sound of those gear-system toys at playgrounds (because I certainly have), look no further than this release for a similar fix.