Stud – “Persimmon”
[Gathering Wool, 2020]
There’s something alluring about a disciplined approach to sound and materials. At its best, this approach can uncover a hidden, microcosmic world through exploring an object’s resonant frequencies and physical topography. There’s a re-mystification of the everyday, a new way of ‘seeing’ an object and transforming our perspective about what that object ‘is’; what we know about it, and what it means to us. In the way that a sculptor’s chisel gives us a new understanding of marble, granite, and clay; or how a photographer’s lens lets us see our city in a different way. But the approach can also overindulge in academicism, leaning on an overwrought conceptual framework to overcome an otherwise uninteresting and lifeless sonic palette. Not this release. “Persimmon” takes its name from an American heartwood, and sounds are sourced from the timber itself. Sonically, the release wallows in the familiar and effective (if idiomatic) sonic territory of harsh noise wall, pulling out searing high frequencies from a thick and murky, distortion-heavy fog of sound in a relentless barrage. There is a constant dynamic motion in this churning, crumbling texture, with a long-form, barely-changing energy throughout each side that sustains interest while not overstaying its welcome. A notable break from the wall occurs at the beginning of side B, with field recordings of birdsong. Perfectly restrained at only a few seconds long, but this brief, recognizable sound greatly opens up the frame of reference for considering the work as a whole. While the sound world of “Persimmon” is heavily indebted to the distorted, contact-mic’d-metal tropes of the harsh noise idiom, the focus on nature, dead wood, and lumber is a welcome and overdue conceptual shift to ecological systems and our place within them. This monolithic wall of noise provides a clearing in the woods to sit and consider our world, the natural world, and the violence we do –to ourselves, to the earth– to subsist.
A part of Gathering Wool’s first group, released Fall 2020.