Review: Network Glass – Twitch (Salon, Aug 3)

I have to begin this review by stating that I can’t even remember the last time I laughed this hard at a piece of “music.” Twitch had me in tears for much of its duration, especially during the opening track “5.52,” and as someone who has spent much of their young life in or within the immediate proximity of gamers and gamer culture, this may be the most definitive “post-internet” release I’ve ever come across (eat your heart out, entire discography of James Ferraro). With his long-running Network Glass project, the Baltimore artist Door has been consistently pushing the boundaries of what can really be called “music” to the extreme (and you know if even I am asking that question, things have gotten pretty off the rails), but Twitch is his most extreme “anti-” release yet, culling almost the entirety of its sound from both in-game and voice channel audio in various familiar titles—(in order) Apex Legends, Minecraft, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto 5. Anyone who has ever played any multiplayer game online will recognize these painfully familiar sounds, from the infuriating lag and ill-timed “gamers only” jokes that fail to land to the incessant view count/subscriber bragging and endless excuses for poor performance. Network Glass splices these chat extracts in a totally disjointed yet seamless cut-up style, where conversations seem as though they’re being had yet no one’s statements acknowledge or interact with each other (although I suppose that’s a totally plausible dynamic in a normal lobby). It’s essentially an extension of what was attempted on tired / stupid, but it definitely works a lot better here. Also present is the hyperactive sound design and bits of digital junk typical of the project, which trade space with well-mixed samples from the games themselves. I’ve always thought Minecraft would be an excellent platform for in-engine improvisation in the style of Animal Crossing quartet Lil’ Jürg Frey, and the second track on this is the closest I’ve found to such an experiment, as the familiar sounds of walking over grass or opening a chest fill the stereo field. Twitch is a blast, and overall I can say it is not only the most hilarious, but also the most utterly bizarre music I’ve heard in a very long time. Which is really, really saying something.