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  • Millie Watson

Streifenjunko - Like driving (2018)

This album is something that just appeared. I have no idea where it came from? But all of a sudden it’s just a part of me? This is my safe space so you're welcome, this is a very personal work for me to share but I hope you get something from it too. It's a warm dark cave that you can escape to.

Side bar:

It turns out we are once again focusing on sonic spatiality. We always think we’re more varied than we are. I used to pride myself on my breadth of music appreciation, but the reality is as I work through this list of influential albums there are some pretty obvious unifying elements…

This is just going to be about the first track ‘Everything we touch is electric’ because that is 16 minutes and 9 seconds of serenity and wonder. I rarely consider this, but the album cover is the perfect visualisation of what you’re about to hear.

This is an etude for texture.

The open. Crackle, whump. Welcome to this space. The unison instruments’ different timbres melt into a lumpy, loamy drone. You can hear the air passing through the reeds. It’s incredibly straight ahead. Start – stop. The length of the moments are dictated by the heart beat of the piece. The deep thump that we open with. It is consistent but not snapped tight to a beat. The movement throughout is totally organic. Even the electronic instruments are often indistinguishable from the acoustic, but they have that slight hardness of digital sound which also changes timbre throughout.

Space, harmony, movement but with a serene gait.

The drones create a velvet living room - I imagine like the red waiting room in Twin Peaks. This means anything with a hard attack is so present, almost invasive in your ear as the electronic crackles are pins pushing through the drapery. Even the roughness of tone in the bass instruments seems so loud and that in itself is focal point at different moments. In between statements you catch little sounds, the slosh of water at one point, breath, saliva as mouth departs reed.

At the halfway point is a quasi bridge. The drones fall away and we have a percussive interlude built with electronic crackles and percussive saxophone playing. The close miking (that’s a word I’ve never had to write before, but micing doesn’t look/sound right so there you go) captures the minutiae of the mouth. It’s an intimate moment, and also a weirdly intimate moment between performer and electronics.

‘Everything we touch is electric’ is incredibly democratic. Each thread has an opportunity to be heard, there is little hierarchy in the waiting room. The long tones give you time to access the interplay of overtones and unique wobbles of different instruments. Simple intervals, basic steps, build the harmony and you can feel this movement growing.

The foundations of this piece are heavy, and the building of its form is so gradual you don’t realise how far you have come on this journey until you look back.


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