Review: Anla Courtis – ATSPRRRCHEXS (Fort Evil Fruit, May 1)

While some artists are uniquely interested in certain sounds that inevitably result in their work being classified as “subversive” or “experimental,” others seem to oppose convention more broadly, avoiding what is commonly considered to be “normal” music at all costs. Alan Courtis is one such artist; as a member of legendary avant-garde trio Reynols he participated in releases as diversely strange as 10.000 Chickens’ Symphony and Blank Tapes, and in his solo career has put out countless curiosities and collaborations under a deliberate misspelling of his own name. ATSPRRRCHEXS is his newest material, emerging on the Irish label Fort Evil Fruit unexpectedly soon after their superb March batch, and presents four pieces composed with field recordings and processing. Musique concrète is a relatively unusual tradition, but in terms of its own identity and history it has a well-established canon of practice and execution. Unsurprisingly, Courtis’s brand is distinctly his own; in the words of the label, these recordings have been expertly psychedelicised, certain angles and edges shaved off and amplified to create focused distortions of reality. Discomfort is rampant in opener “ATS,” which counters a sweaty electronic shimmy with grating tape manipulation like angry swarms of bees, but things get more pleasant throughout the remainder of the tape, and the closing gong-only track doesn’t even seem out of place. The Argentinian Anomaly is alive and kicking.

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