Review: Native Instrument – live ateliers claus 04 (les albums claus, Jan 22)

I’d never heard of Native Instrument (the collaborative project of field recordist/composer Felicity Mangan and poet/improvisor Stine Janvin) before coming across this release, and so I unconsciously expected something along the lines of Musica Sveciae’s Fornnordiska klanger, which sought to replicate prehistorical musical traditions. This 4th installment in Brussels imprint les albums claus’s live ateliers claus series, however, reveals that the duo’s name refers to a nativity beyond that which can be possessed or identified by humans, a primality that hints toward evoking the volatile majesty of nature. Mangan has previously proved her mettle in the area of phonographic assemblage that transforms familiar sounds—birdsong, buzzing insects, rustling leaves—into an abstract, multifarious mass of textures (think Abby Lee Tee’s recent work, an earthier @c, or that sweaty pestilence that begins Murmuüre’s “Disincarnate”) and this live recording is no different. Even though the performance took place in the same year as Native Instrument’s first and only studio album Camo, the interplay between Mangan’s prickly swarms of croak, chirp, and click and Janvin’s mixtures of throbbing electronics and processed vocalizations feels much more developed here; it’s livelier, more agile and organically-paced, and therefore much more enjoyable. This music lurks at the ambiguous crossroads of observance, improvisation, and techno (if you happen to know the GPS coordinates, please let me know; I hear it’s lovely this time of year).