Review: Dino – Pulsations (Karma Detonation Tapes, May 14)

a0717631946_10 (2)Every time I try to sit down and write this review with Pulsations in my ears I barely make it a few sentences in before falling back into the tape’s powerful hypnosis. There is something so remarkably special about this release from Dino, who, despite being apparently a “seminal figure” in the Taipei noise scene and having won awards for his film sound effects work, I have somehow never heard of. It turns out that’s not entirely my fault, because before this he’s only put out one other tape under this alias, and that was just a few years ago in 2018, so it appears that his “seminal” status has been achieved entirely through the reputation of his live performances, which seems an exceedingly likely explanation given the strength of the “outdoor guerilla gig” recordings collected here. Dino’s approach lies somewhere between traditional scavenged-electronics harsh noise and more texturally nuanced electroacoustic improvisation, with countless other bizarre yet quite fitting tinctures that imbue the music with magnetic intrigue: mangled loops of Fisher-Price jingles and circuit chirps; twinges of skittering psychedelia; yawning expanses of empty space under even the loudest, harshest churns. The tracks are ambiguously referred to as “the first 4 of Dino’s live recording[s]” (they could be the first ever or the first of that series of sets) so I’m not sure whether they were recorded two decades ago or last month, but it doesn’t really matter, because while the outdoor environment plays an important and sometimes highly audible role in the unique listening experience that is Pulsations, it’s not something that distracts or is simply auxiliary. Piercing, often painfully caustic scrap-scrabble shrieking into the muffling endlessness of the air—I won’t be forgetting these sounds anytime soon.