From their considered aesthetic at Notice Recordings, a meticulous assembly that signifies an endless tranquility, a peaceful unfolding, captured as an immediate artifact, Travis Bird and Evan Lindorff-Ellery develop focused squalls and textured ambiance as Dense Reduction. Two of my closest friends and collaborators in all things music, food, and culture, I want to reflect on their music as a stranger with a familiar face, an ideological mate who nevertheless roams mostly outside of the noise realm.
The calm, unfolding artifacts produced by their aesthetic sits patiently beneath their squalling signals, often providing the oxygen for their compositions and preying on the listener's mind while their ears are focused on singular lines. Dense Reduction often record their music by focusing on one major element while developing the background with cues and hints as to the direction of the main piece. On their very first release, Notice Recordings' first release as a label, their B-side hints at this coming calmness, as a weary signal wrapped in a haze succumbs to errant feedback squeals and pitching shifting. This screeching, a sense of urgency to communicate, a sense of forbidden transmissions or lost messages, blast through the speakers with the sharpness of a knife while the textures surrounding the message or transmission salve the wound and restore a disquieted calm, the layers of a message in a bottle subject to the current.
Everyday communication is shrouded by intentions, missed links, poor listening, personal interest, aloofness, etc. The desire for a commanding communication, transmitted clearly and without delay is the tension that sits beneath the most recent Dense Reduction releases, a tension that fights against the calm forlorn disposition of that bottle floating at sea. Tape manipulation, clicking cassettes repeated, distorted sound clips, loops, implied choral arrangements, busy noise implying a crew of workers populate both sides of the duo's Digitalis cassette, Fictive Agriculture, one of the duo's most recent releases that thoroughly provides a textured matriculation of the promises of their very first tape. Agriculture itself is the defining point of culture in many regards, and breaking that dirt with our shovels is a necessary precursor to support and develop our communication, sharing, ideals, and expectations. Those lost transmissions regain strength as we investigate the very foundation of our communication, our sharing, and move forward with a endeavors of culture that depend not on our commerce of bodies alone but on the strength of music that fully assembles the hustle of everyday life, obscuring beyond its daily existence in order to frame its truth and finally, its successful delivery -- I hear the culmination of this theme on the A-side of of the duo's 2:00AM Tapes release, Shifting Interior.
Labor surrounds and defines many of our pursuits, framing our transmissions and enveloping our being in codes and structures that build and interact mechanistic, routine, rhythmic versions of ourselves, moving forward in the world for the sake of commerce, bread, accomplishment, boredom. Reclaiming work is a complementary theme to recovering lost transmissions, and I hear this theme mostly in the group's Notice Recordings release, Shadows of Shipwrecks in Napkins on Shore, as well as their recent live sets. Both Travis and Evan assemble everyday objects that typically hide in our closet or in back of our nightstand, amplify them through contact microphones, creating a drone that follows their hum of activity, which stands beyond our basic comforts, defining our daily existence or the framework of it, so that we may march forward. A fan to keep us cool while we sleep, a toolbox that sits unused. This dirge of materials is most evident on the B-side of this Notice Recordings tape, which follows a swarm of amplified electronics, indiscernable noise, hypnotics wells and pulses, and echo tape manipulation and background fluttering. Obscuring daily objects or objects of commerce is one of the very best variations of noise music, and Dense Reduction execute this theme with the same patience and sense of unfolding that frames their transmissions, lost communications, messages wayward.
Through the individuated noises, the focused lead lines amplified above the fray on nearly all of their recent tapes, and also through their calm textures, Dense Reduction engage with the disquiet and foreboding sense of nature that contrasts our daily lives but ultimately provides us with a sense of longing or desire for something different. Through exploiting labor, embracing forlorn messages, mourning lost transmissions, and developing a severe sense of patience, the everyday objects, synthesizers, percussion, and crutches of Dense reduction reveal a profound, lasting peacefulness for the listener. An abode -- truly situated, of this world, entirely material, perfect for disguising interactions both ritual and spiritual and transcendent.
Shadows of Shipwrecks in Napkins on Shore (Notice)
Fictive Agriculture (Digitalis)
Shifting Interior (2:00AM)
Dense reduction will be touring with Jaap Pieters, providing support on several dates for Pieters' silent Super-8 films. Dates from Notice Recordings:
Oct 5 & 6 – Anthology Film Archives (Pieters' films only) - New York City
**Oct 9 - TBA - New York City (No films... Dense Reduction with Ben Owen, Anne Guthrie and Yellow Crystal Star)
Oct 10 - Dogstar Arts - 277 Spruce Knob Rd, Middletown Springs, VT 05757
**Oct 12 - Obrien's Pub - 3 Harvard Ave., Allston/Boston, MA 02134 (No films... Dense Reduction with Xela, Veiled, Amobriax and Double Awake)
Oct 13 – Spectacle – 128 Brookside, Boston, MA 02130
Oct 17 – Melwood Screening Room @ Pittsburgh Filmmakers – 477 Melwood, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Oct 19 – Robinwood Concert House – 2564 Robinwood Ave, Toledo, OH 43610
Oct 21 - Cinema Borealis – 1550 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60622
Oct ?? – TBA, Madison, WI
Oct 28 or 29 – UWM campus, Milwaukee, WI
Intense, surreal, remote, dynamic. Come along with us as we chronicle the adventures of the soul through psychedelic, drone, noise, experimental, pop music based around Chicago bands in particular and local bands everywhere.
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