Review: Anla Courtis – Hydrockphonia (Nazlo, Sep 16)

Knowing Alan Courtis’s penchant for rearranging, misspelling, combining, and otherwise abusing various languages, as is apparent from the spelling of his usual solo alias, the title of this most recent release is most likely a neologism created by Courtis himself for the specific purpose of giving name to the music contained within. And “contained” it is, for Hydrockphonia unfolds deep underground, far beneath the bustling, life-filled outer shell of the Earth or whatever planet it is, where an oppressive, cold silence reigns. Tainting the soundless subterranean solitude of the title track, sparingly at first and then more consistently, are the reverberating shifts and groans of a massive cosmic form. One thinks of hulking, austere monoliths untouched by living hands, primordial rituals of forgotten stone—and then immediately following this immersive sanctum is simply, as its title states, a recording of um hidrofone em gin-tonic (“a hydrophone in a gin-and-tonic”). The effervescent carbonation and surrounding textures like wind through full-leaved trees could have kept with the mystery and brought us closer to the surface of that planet within which we found ourselves trapped, but Courtis, being Courtis, tells you exactly what very humble, earthly source generated that sound. What’s even more jarring is that both of these tracks, as well as “KNCK,” were recorded in the same location (Yaguareté Studios, Buenos Aires)! Once again the madman silently cackles as he pulls the thousandth carefully-stitched rug out from under our feet, sending us tumbling into whatever the hell he has planned next. Which, as it turns out, is some slow whips of tape shift and ghostly drones, with the haunted faucet orchestra and cricket chatter of “OOT” bringing things to a close. Pick up a physical copy on a recycled 3″ reel-to-reel tape (because why not?).