(New Album Review) Roarke Menzies- Corporeal

All the sonic surface aspects of Corporeal, the newest work from NYC-based sound artist and composer Roarke Menzies, will immediately be familiar to those immersed in modern incarnations of electronic and electro-acoustic music achieved through increasingly abstract treatments from combinations of hardware and software– obscure utterances accumulate to form deeply textural, shifting soundscapes. What sets this collection apart, though, is the quietly insistent energy of these hypnotic loops and drones, so cloudy and austere, but releasing just enough  from their opaque depths to hint at the unfolding of a narrative. Menzies doesn’t bowl you over with eruptions of noise or meditative wanderings, in other words– the structure is as firmly defined as the singularity of his vision.

The name of the album is derived from the primary source of the sounds used: Menzies’s  physical body settling, tapping, vexing machinery and metal. The narrative is of the body moving in conjunction with its mechanical extensions, until the operator breaks free, and the percussive, monochrome workings of “Flicker Film” and “Behind the Curtain” swell and waver into the disquiet of “Apparatus or Caress” and “Escape Artist”, then slowly dissolve into the nebulous calm of “The Wake”. We are left in the end with the human voice on “Hum”, Menzies’s impassive groans and coos trailing off into a bed of scrambled echoes, at last unhindered and alone. All this makes for a singularly haunting and evocative electro-acoustic trip. Nod your head slowly to the Reich-like repetitions as you ruminate over the dimly-lit scenes at which they hint, if you like– just remember to bring your deep-listening ears for this one! Pretty excellent stuff.

For my Portland readers: Roarke Menzies will be appearing tonight at 8 at Action/Adventure Theater on Clinton St. with the always intriguing Ben Glas and up-and-coming experimental guitarist ADOS 33. $5 will get you through the door and, more importantly, support the touring artist. Hope you can make it– you will not want to miss this! 

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