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Life Form - Parts for Holiday Projects
MP3 EP 2014 | Silber 173
4 tracks, 14 minutes
~ Mark Barton, The Sunday Experience
Small Life Form explores the secret sounds of jingle bells.
: Press Release
: Digital Booklet
: Prefer to listen on Bandcamp?
It's Not All Milk & Cookies
I think we promised that Silber records would shortly be releasing a stack of Christmas related musical festivities – well they are out – so we’ve already briefly mentioned yellow6 so while we get around to sampling the delights of baptizer, ronja’s Christmas witch, electric bird noise, remora and firetail here’s small life form with ‘parts for holiday projects’ – which according to the press release was initially conceived as a conscientious stab at celebrating the birth of Christ before going a little awry. We’ve trained our ears on the centrepiece cut ‘it’s not all milk and cookies’ and can quite confidentally confirm – well it’s not quite Wham but then were you to expect such in these missives there would be the odd querying raise of the eyebrow and a firmly disapproving tut tut. Still what you get for your dollar is something rathermore very unseasonal unless of course I’ve somehow somewhere come to lose the point, plot and reason for being here. In truth sounds like the third programme of the spin cycle on an Indesit washing machine – model number WCM6165 in case you are taking notes – and we ought to know because we are midway through a wash right this minute and it sounds like this track is communicating with said washer in some strange droning dialect either that or some insane mind frying dream machine. Very odd though that said it ought to appeal to all you astral social club and trensmat admirers.
~ Mark Barton, The Sunday Experience
US project SMALL LIFE FORM is a self-described ambient venture, who place themselves in the electro-acoustic drone segment of this type of music. They have been active since the tail end of the 1990’s. “Parts for Holiday Projects” dates back to 2014, and was released through US label Silber Records in December that year.
As with some other releases on Silber, Small Life Form, at least as they appear on this EP, doesn’t have all that much in common with conventional music. Sounds, drones and effects are the dominating features here, without much room for melodies or harmonies even of a non-conventional manner.
In fact, apart from the compelling mood piece that opens this EP, revolving around dark, bubbly voice-like effects, this production hones in on what many would describe as noisescapes. Dark machine-like fluctuating sounds, harder edged instances of the same with a more massive wall of noise approach on the 9 minute centerpiece It’s Not All Milk & Cookies, and then at last a lighter toned version of the same, with an opening hissing sound paired off with abrasive light toned noisescapes to create more of a cosmic tinged wall of noise in the concluding cut Wake Up.
While those fond of conventional music may not find this material all that appealing, those who tend to be fascinated by machine-like sounds and effects, noisescapes and noisewalls might want to take note of this EP. Those curious about such escapades might also want to have a listen to this material, as this EP does come across as a well made and well thought out specimen of it’s kind.
~ Olav Martin Bjørnsen, House of Prog
Methinks on some level, the Parts for Holiday Projects EP, created by the group Small Life Form as part of Silber Records’ 2014 Holiday EP lineup, is trying to convey the notion that underneath that bushy beard, Santa Claus may be getting fed up with the tiresome routine of Christmas (as are some of the rest of us...). Containing four tracks which are named in a way suggesting that they chronicle a typical Christmas Eve, the album is billed as an EP of “electroacoustic manipulations,” but that term typically indicates that what we’re left with is something that’s not altogether musical. I’d go so far as to say that most people would find this as pleasing to listen to as industrial machinery clanking away, but there is a method to the madness here and I swear I can even hear jingle bells at least once during the course of the EP.
Bookended on the front side by the brief “slumber,” which has a gurgly, underwater sort of sound to it, and “workshop,” which imagines Santa’s North Pole toy factory as a nightmarish, mechanized hell, the album’s obvious feature track is the nearly nine and half-minute “it’s not all milk and cookies.” This track finds the affable, rotund fellow adored by children of all ages replaced by a metalized Santa that’s sputters away as he goes about his business of providing toys (...or maybe miter saws...) for the world’s children. Harsh and abrasive, the piece slowly builds from an almost hypnotic drone into what seems to be a pulsating rumble and whirr of spinning parts and pieces that doesn’t so much conjure up images of flying reindeer as ones of the housekeeping staff vacuuming up after a particularly rowdy holiday gathering. The album’s final piece “wake up” is similarly hard on the ears, with a continual, thick, and overwhelming hiss being the main (and pretty much only) element heard in the track. Honesty, if all you want for Christmas is hearing loss and a headache, you’ll likely find just what you’re looking for here.
Needless to say, Parts for Holiday Projects EP simply is not something that much of anyone would actively enjoy listening to (though it may be ideal as background white noise to fall asleep to while the kids destroy their gifts). From a conceptual standpoint, it’s unusual to say the least and demonstrates that Small Life Form mastermind Brian John Mitchell knows a thing or two about producing and engineering bizarre and downright gut-churning audio. Still, this is exactly the kind of release that the concept of “2Deep4U” was intended for: something that few people would have any idea how to approach let alone any inkling to check out. Most people would be better off skipping this and frankly, the majority of Silber’s 2014 Christmas release lineup, but I’m glad that lineup made a place for an album release like this: it’s the perfect antidote for an overload of stale “holiday favorites.”
~ Andy Armageddon, Bandjack