Review: Various Artists – PP-01 (Party Perfect!!!, Dec 2)

For the debut release from new Chicago- and Queens-based arrival Party Perfect!!!, three contemporary sound artists and one duo—Hunter Brown and Dominic Coles as Other Plastics, whose Overtime Liquor I reviewed here in 2020—each contribute an album-length section to a massive tetraptych compilation, simply titled after its own catalog number. It’s an interesting way to take the first step, and intuitively seems to center the label as just as much collective as imprint. What’s more, each self-contained work fits both thematically and sonically with those that come after and/or before, making a full listen a lengthy but worthwhile endeavor. Despite the duration, boredom isn’t really a concern here; composer and improviser Michelle Lou’s untitled suite of four tracks kicks off with a bang, ripping ragged digital knives through plasticine barriers, filling the field with thick glitch storms that break into sawtooth drones and quieter, sparser realms. The MEGO-esque maelstroms continue with The Arranger, a machine-listening algorithm written and performed by Stefan Maier at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2018, which has all the volatile, stochastic kinesis of Florian Hecker’s noisiest records with the heady conceptualism of his more recent work. Both “diffusions” of Maier’s piece, one via speakers and the other via headphones, are absolute joys to experience, the movements so manifold I’m convinced the code is somehow processing more than just itself.

By far the briefest segment, multidisciplinary artist Michael Flora’s Emergent Spectra covers immense ground despite the short lengths of the title tracks and the constricted minimalism of a pure data palette. Some of the sketches, namely 004 and 006, blow through a half-hour’s worth of complexity in less than a minute, the wrenching cut-ups and hard pans leading up to the starkly linear progression of “Folded Spectra.” The stretch of sterile synthesis is followed up by what is perhaps the most “human” of the quadrants, a field recording–based effort by Other Plastics to reveal “the rhythmic profile of various forms of contemporary leisure.” almost leisure has a much more defined thesis than the duo’s traditionally improvised debut, its sprawling sound-map of decontextualized conversation and spatial wormholes evoking the uncanny humor and illuminations of Network Glass’s Twitch user anthropology. As is probably clear by now, any of these could easily hold its own as a distinct release, but I think PP-01 is greater than just the sum of its parts.

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