Review: No Artist – Dear Master, […] (Chained Library, Apr 15)

Like many of the arcane electronic-based sound art projects given a platform by the elusive Chained Library imprint, this anonymous cassette release, based in the nebulous darkness of Emily Dickinson’s infamous “Master” letters, has a conceptual fabric that is perceptible yet obscure, bursting at the seams with palpable meaning that itself is impossible to ever fully pin down. Embarking on diverse textural excursions through seething noise, fractured recitation both artificial and organic, and deconstructed lexical null-scapes along the lines of Porcje Rosołowe and Łukasz Podgórni’s previously peerless Skanowanie balu collaboration, this sonic reimagining of Dickinson’s alluringly cryptic, genre-defying shadow correspondence is literary in its own right, the poet’s trademark em-dash onslaughts and epistolary subversion transposed to stuttering glitches and a total abandonment of the conventionally musical. Of note are the centerpiece track “Oh – did I offend it” (titled after one of the best-known phrases from the letters), a swirling micro-apocalypse of circuit-board industrial and barely intelligible, constantly shifting speech; and closer “If you saw a bullet,” which seems to be composed of a single utterance fed through a complex effects loop. Though it isn’t crucial to be familiar with the “source” material to enjoy Dear Master, […], I highly recommend you check it out regardless.

Buy the tape via Chained Library’s website or stream all seven tracks on their Soundcloud.