Review: Chris Fratesi – Stunad (Lake Shark Harsh Noise, Feb 28)

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This new batch from Sam McKinlay’s Lake Shark Harsh Noise imprint presents music from two artists not exactly known for producing the titular genre of music, one of whom is Chris Fratesi. The brains behind the obscure but beloved Gene Pick project, Fratesi has now released three full-length works of electronic sound art under his own name, each one more radical than the last. Sound for Blank Disc, true to its title, comprised eviscerating sessions of modified empty compact disc playback, while Red Lead utilized an even more unidentifiable approach to create unsettlingly lifeless soundscapes of displaced electrical din; if anything, Stunad is a sort of stylistic fusion of those two preceding documents, embracing both unruly digital indeterminacy and uncompromising minimalism. Generated using an ostensibly simple process—”source taken from a sine wave generator and then put onto CD then manipulated using a modified CD player”—the A and B sides of the tape are unique but complementary slabs of hypnotic glitch-stasis. The former is thick and bass-heavy, an incessant stutter of sterile distortion and fractured frequency artifacts that will put any listener in a turgid tech-trance within the first five minutes, whereas the latter strips the noise down to a shredded high-pitched whine. It’s impossible not to get hooked on the fleeting illusions of structure that haunt these unyielding sound-obelisks: wreckage of rhythm-remnants, gnashing loops, heathen harmonies.

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