Review: uœrhe – 1 (self-released, May 9)

a1384873356_10There’s not a single moment on 1 in which I’m able to shake the subtle but pervasive feeling that something is about to happen. Good, bad, catastrophic, inconsequential—I have no idea. But these skeletal compositions always seethe and brood with powerful portent as if immortalizations of the unassuming periods of time before a notable event occurs, captured and truncated to preserve that slippery, evocative atmosphere. Both field recordings and electronics are used throughout the six tracks (the former on the “1” segments, the latter on “2”), but even though their innate sonic differences aren’t obscured or erased the two approaches feel unusually unified in their passivity. Between stretches of uncanny reverbed darkness-scapes and clatter kept at an ominous distance, “2.1” and “2.2” seem less like performances and more like documents, perhaps simply observations with a much more magnified lens than their counterparts—with crackling hum, garbled radio artifacts, and an overall sense of inconsequence, they could just as easily be recordings of invisible wave phenomena or mysterious spectra as conscious “musical” actions. All in all, the enigmatic uœrhe’s debut release feels barely there at all, like tinges and tinctures and abstract semblances scraped from tangibility and stripped of context, leaving only raw, indefinable emotional signification. And because of this, it may be the case that whatever responses elicits are more illustrative of the one doing the responding than the music itself.