Wednesday, November 17, 2010
i sing the body electric
A brief pointer to a duo sometimes assigned the unfortunate genre descriptor sinecore, the Stasis Duo. They indeed explore sine tones, both steady state and unstable, often painfully so. They also rattle, crackle, spit, bend and spark like a well-tended digital fire-pit. Their 2010 release on L'Innomable, straight out of Slovenia, follows several others scattered across the past decade.
The Stasis Duo is Matthew Earle and Adam Sussmann, employing guitar and electronics, drawing their electric bath from empty samplers and radically reduced guitar pitches, distilling their 36 minute shuffle and boil down gradually to vapors, then nothing. You can be forgiven, if you listen to the duo's shaped electricity at anything less than high volume, for thinking they have disappeared well before they do. The first track opens with a neck-snapping call to attention, moves through a stretch of sine taffy and extreme pitch pushing, before beginning the long reduction of elements, the clarification of the smallest crackles and hisses. Demanding close attention, high tolerance for the upper reaches of the sine, and an appreciation for the duo's focus on often indeterminate, near inaudible sound selections, they are working a distinct area of improvised electricity, more severely self-limited than anyone save perhaps Sachiko M.
The Stasis Duo may maintain a low flame much of the time, but their sound is immediate, physical and visceral. They uncoil their bent pitches in your cochlea, not by dint of volume, but by years of perverse study in the margins and membranes between audio pain and pleasure; they are, as Whitman sang of the body electric, cunning in tendon and nerve. On this L'Inommable release, you can cock your ear toward the duo's intuition and reflexes in order to appreciate their spare sound world. Equally, attune yourself to the level of technique involved in tossing off harmony, melody, rhythm and comfort itself, in order to shape raw electricity with a shared direction and flow. Stasis Duo's music is that elemental, by its nature uninviting, and accessible only to the acute listener. This last summing up is in no wise intended pejoratively- some music is that uncompromising and unconcerned with giving equal measures creature comforts with its other pleasures.
If you can locate copies of Sussmann and Earle's 2003 collaboration with Will Guthrie, Bridges, or Sussmann's solo guitar works released on the Document imprint, by all means do so.