Review: Chris Fratesi – Sound for Blank Disc (Regional Bears, Jul 3)

Sound for Blank Disc is yet another birth-name debut from a beloved experimental artist on Regional Bears; however, unlike New Sounds of Nature, which was Blue Chemise mastermind Mark Gomes’s first release under his own name and the London label’s most conventional release yet, there are no new age comforts or bubbly synth baths to be found on this cold, caustic album. Gathering the first material credited to Chris Fratesi, who usually records and performs under the alias Gene Pick, the minimally adorned Sound for Blank Disc is a fresh, modern entry in a long-running canon of blank media (and specifically blank CDs) as source material. I was immediately reminded of Yasunao Tone’s Solo for Wounded CD, whose alien rhythmic blips were created via actual modification and augmentation of the playback surface, but in the case of the first track especially Fratesi’s experiments are much more abrasive. Other than the title, there isn’t much information about the methodology used, but unlike Wounded CD the digital whirring, microscopic clicks, and unpredictable howls of noise are more than captivating enough without the conceptual transparency. Each five minute segment is a searing slide through a different compartment of a white-hot, mortally malfunctioning machine.