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- Phenomenalism, Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20
MP3 Album 2016 | Silber 215
1 tracks, 73 minutes
Listen on Bandcamp | Listen on Spotify
: Press Release
Phenomenalism, Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20
One of our favorite indie labels, and also one of the most forward thinking musically, is Silber Records. Readers of this blog will note that their releases appear here regularly. Today we have another fine, envelope pushing release from them. Phenomenalism Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20 is the new album from Chvad SB. The 1 hour plus piece of music is and innovative electronic work using the synth as an orchestral tool, to construct a tonal poem that conveys depth and originality, through a compelling series of musical expressions and moods. This massive work is a must have.
~ Floorshime Zipper Boots
Despite album artwork that seems to channel Heath Robinson, or Henrique Alvim Corrêa's HG Wells illustrations, sonically this experimental album is firmly routed in the 1950's, citing the 1956 soundtrack to "Forbidden Planet" as an influence and sounding very akin to early BBC Radiophonic Workshop pieces.
The single 73-minute piece is programmed, in the sense that it is generated by a series of rules and loops rather than in the more common sense of programming a synthesizer. It's difficult to spot these patterns though, and the 'lead' element strongly sounds like a human being noodling experimentally on an old analogue synth in a freeform jazz style. Despite apparently being entirely generated by patterns, recognisable musical patterns are difficult to spot in the output, to the extent that I'm not completely convinced that it was algorithmically generated; I could easily believe that somebody performed this live, but that's not to its detriment. The progression throughout is very subtle and slight, and again it feels more organic than mathematical.
There's an accompanying video "response", which encompasses the whole work and which may or may not be available online (it's unclear whether this will be made public). While the audio may have strong roots in the 1950's, the video belongs in the 1980's- cheesy kaleidoscope effects, strobing video feedback loops, plasma balls and Amiga-generated graphics combine to create a visual that reacts to, but fails to compliment, the audio. The video element is expendable.
The album however is a really listenable, extremely retro-facing experimental work and a marvellous way to chill out.
~ Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK
Chvad SB designed & built a self-playing computer free synthesizer. The next generation of musicians is human free. Or so they say. Given that all pop music these days sounds to me like it was composed by algorithm, this is kind of terrifying. I miss humans. Humans are okay. And it’s fair to say, I think, that humans are pretty good at this music lark. Some of them, anyway. Sure a computer can beat you at chess, but how does a self-playing synth fair at composition? Not great, if I’m honest. This is noodly, high concept wank. The “song” lasts over an hour. And it sounds like a Commodore64 with a migraine. I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen to the whole thing, because one day I’ll die, and I already have enough regrets.
~ Dara Higgins, Thumped
The US experimental-music creator Chvad SB was introduced a couple of years ago.
His latest release Phenomenalism, Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20 (available on bandcamp), although only a one track single is best heard when you have plenty of time to wrap yourself in the contusions as it lasts for over seventy three minutes.
Created by using feedback loops made, not by computer or human input, rather by a modular synthesiser. Phenomenalism, Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20 was a concept first considered back in 2014 and took four months to complete the recording. Despite being randomly generated loops the track has a hauntingly hypnotic organic sound.
~ Tim Whale, Emerging Indie Bands
Some of the systems art of the late 1960s and early 1970s—for example, Sol LeWitt’s modular lattice sculptures or Mel Bochner’s number grids—embodied a certain regularity of form. A systematic regularity, one might say. A basic element might be repeated at constant intervals or an input sequence subjected to a defined operation. By contrast, some other systemic artworks—integral serialist compositions, for example–produced surfaces of unpredictable, irregularly occurring events from an underlying set of rules. In either case the systems generating the artworks featured a certain autonomy requiring little or no ongoing oversight from the artist. Chvad SB’s Phenomenalism Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20, a long piece for modular synthesizer, leverages carefully crafted feedback loops into a soundwork that essentially plays itself.
With its collection of fragmentary musical gestures, Phenomenalism sounds something like the pointillist serial works of the mid-20th century—it’s possible to hear in it a refigured echo of Milton Babbitt’s compositions for the RCA Mark II synthesizer of the early 1960s, for example. Like those compositions, Phenomenalism aggregates individual pitch sequences and timbres into a kaleidoscopic sound of playful unpredictability. Also like those compositions, the pleasure of the surface sounds requires no knowledge of the systems underlying them.
~ Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News
Phenomenalism, Cartesian Doubt and Bomb #20 was apparently two years in the making and was constructed without the aid of a computer or a human to manipulate or arrange the sounds. How? I'm still not quite sure I understand how, but the music you hear was built from a self-playing modular synthesizer programmed to take repeating phrases and make them non-repeating. The result is a very robotic and, on the surface, calculatedly random array of sounds that successfully demonstrates its reverence to Chvad SB's sources of inspiration, namely the film scores of Forbidden Planet and Dark Star, while conveying his own understanding of how those sounds can still emote and construct something imaginative and tangible.
~ Sean Caldwell, Letters from a Tapehead