Review: a0n0 – Underground Sea (farmersmanual, Mar 18)

Reviewing two glitch-based releases back to back may be a faux pas for one who likes to keep things varied (e.g., me) but neither Actoma nor this incredible full-length by Sendai sound artist a0n0, one of the few artists who has put out new material on since its revival some three or so years ago. In appropriate fashion, Calopteryx atrata was raw, and rough-edged computer music (except for short interludes like “A River Near the Forest” and “Jyogisan”), and for most of Underground Sea’s “Ultra Lite Mk3”  it starts to seem like the same will be true here. But the meticulously sculpted web of thick digital noise soon starts to reveal a warmth buried beneath, a network of thermal veins surging with a sublime fire that arrives in the form of “610”, a roiling, densely harmonic (and even melodic) drift. It’s pretty amazing how packed full this thing really is, each track holding you under its surface for what feels like an eternity, and yet as a whole the 28-odd minutes are over in a flash. Harnessing such harsh synthetic textures in ambient music is a rare approach, but it’s consistently successful enough that it should be; Underground Sea is even less overtly organic than the noisiest moments on Lilien Rosarian’s Every Flower in My Garden, and yet it mines from the same radiant essence, especially in the case of the gorgeous “The Day Plate Tectronics Stopped.”

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