Review: brb>voicecoil – Alms of Guilt (Opal Tapes, Aug 28)

Newcastle Upon Tyne artist Kevin Wilkinson has been making music for a long time—nearly three decades, in fact. He established himself in the 90’s with rock band Drill as well as his more abstract solo work as BigRoadBreaker (BRB), the latter presumably evolving, after a decade-or-so hiatus, into his current project brb>voicecoil (many of Wilkinson’s past releases are available on the muza muza Bandcamp for download). Freed from the free-form studio industrial of its namesake, the discography of brb>voicecoil charts Wilkinson’s descent into engrossing, heavily processed modern musique concrète, evoking just as dark of an atmosphere as he always has with a more contemporary approach. The recent Alms of Guilt, is an exemplary exploration of this; despite the provocative, emotionally charged track titles, only the most unfamiliar and evasive sounds are present, whether through intensive manipulation, unusual/obscure capture, or a mixture of both. The six-track album, dual-released as a 12″ lathe by Wilkinson himself and a CD by fellow Newcastle residents Opal Tapes, finds its backbone in the consistently dark, seething waves of dissected sonics, flitting and eddying like hive-mind insect swarms or sewer water currents amidst interjections of reverberating spacial echo and queasy digital glitches. There’s always a lot going on, but at the same time there really isn’t. Wilkinson’s creations are dense but not overwhelming or disorienting; instead, he forcefully condenses countless elements into single entities, conjurations somewhere in the unsettling valley between organic and artificial that flop and writhe like semi-sentient masses of living tissue and industrial machinery. If, like me, you’ve found yourself falling in love with this sort of compositionally “total” acousmatic approach—for other examples, see Corat CoretStallgewitter, Staubitz and WaterhouseTo Be Brave—you will definitely enjoy Alms of Guilt.

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