Review: Unk – Attempts to Bend and Capture Frequencies from the Old Otherworlds (Liquid Library, Sep 10)

Any kind of “paranormal investigation” through auditory art will always interest me, as will self-described “attempts” at pretty much anything—I have a soft spot for humility, failure, and preferably both at once in a musical context. Based on the haunting forces immortalized by Attempts to Bend and Capture Frequencies from the Old Otherworlds, however, it seems like the reclusive Unk (a.k.a. Hans Lo of More Surgery) may actually have succeeded in their ostensibly impossible task. Traveling to “specific sites [known] for their potential sonic anomalies and spiritual histories” throughout Cornwall, England—“college ruins in Penryn, Kennall Vale in Ponsanooth, and Halliggye Fogou in Helston”—Lo recorded the playback of simple electronic drone devices in harmony with the murk and mutter of the surrounding area: wheezes of wind, spectral rustlings, thumps and bumps in the night. In the opening triptych of “College Conjuring” pieces, tense, strained feedback strands seep and hiss from cleaved cobblestone like buzzing locust phantoms, while “Helston Hallows – Layby Dry Cows 004” begins so quietly it can barely be heard at baseline volume before ravaged, shrieking spirit-echoes pierce the corporeal. I was excited to see that the “Ghillie Wrapped Halliggye” tracks feature a “droning contraption” that adds a pleasant incessance like the familiar but never quite normal sound of a malfunctioning home appliance, but my clear favorite ended up being the closing “Summon Me Hither – Twilight Still 001,” a darkly gorgeous and meditative final statement. Especially in this last track, there are important messages for you from those who have already passed on… listen closely.