Review: Clayhanger – Coal Press Dax Tongue (self-released, Apr 28)

a3413810896_10In my opinion, the best improvised music these days is the scruffy, squeaky tabletop tinkering that’s been steadily flowing in different forms out of places all over the United Kingdom: Ashcircle’s screeching “micro-concrète”, EGO DEPLETION’s artificial organics, en creux’s “faulty equipment” transmissions, to name just a few. Both the intrigue and the artistic success of these acts boil down to their do-it-yourself approach and a willingness to embrace the sonic possibilities of complete junk rather than avoiding those imperfections. Clayhanger, an alias of the artist behind the Expanding Foam project, throws their chipped plastic hat in the ring with Coal Press Dax Tongue, a release whose musical contents would probably be just as disturbing to androids or other electronic entities as the album artwork is to carbon-based ones. Despite the Bandcamp tags strongly implying these two nineish-minute tracks were created with a modular synth, Clayhanger frets and fumbles with patch changes in a magnetically slipshod manner that ends up sounding more like a clumsy, sausage-fingered circuit bending session. But the skilled artist still exercises a notable amount of control over their freeform gubbin-flinging without dulling the cut of the music’s rough edges: purposefully placed bits of buzz ‘n crackle converse with each other back and forth across your brain on “Rolling” while rising, shuddering tension coalesces into points of pressure like whirring power tools on “Pressing.” Coal Press Dax Tongue often settles into that paradox of ostensive superfluity or superficiality concealing impressive depth, and that is just one of the many reasons I love it dearly.