Entropy is at work, objects and organisms submit to the inevitable wear and tear of existence. Abandoned buildings return to whence they came. Humans forestall the inevitable slide with pills, procedures and potions. Nature is indifferent. Randomness, or mutation is also inevitable within the population. Some rewiring of the genome gives rise to new breeds; take the Internet for example‚ Perth-based ensemble Decibel are like lab-technicians and researchers, voraciously experimenting within the borders of the musical universe, bringing to life hybrids previously unimagined, and instilling a theoretical rigour absent from the majority of modern musical discourse.
Artistic Director Cat Hope’s compositions are concerned with the first part of the album title. The slowly disintegrating acoustics and mournful sonorities contained on “In the Cut” are a case in point. Indolent drawls of sound are slowly starved of power, like a Technics turntable turned off with the needle still embedded in the groove. The deep rumbling bass owes its genesis to a link between a turntable playing a specially prepared dubplate and a bass guitar. Like a reverse Shepard Tone, the thrum reminds me of Jacob Kirkegaard’s 4 Rooms album of field recordings from inside the exclusion zone of Chernobyl. An imagining of a sordid end at the hands of a mafia hit man, “Kuklinski’s Dream” coaxes eviscerated tones out of carving knives bowed by disintegrating horsehair. The strangled sonics paint a none-too-pretty picture of a gruesome, seasick, final moment.
On “Transit of Venus” and “Antibody”, Lindsay Vickery employs the concept of Mutation as their raison d’tre. Unison and chaos are employed in order to paint a picture of that rare astronomical event which sent Captain Cook to the South Seas in 1769. A semi-improvised (echo) chamber ensemble sway in and out of phase, before a certain quietude descends in the form of a bowed Cello towards the end of proceedings. “Antibody” is modern classical for the laboratory, with five musical “cells” undergoing mutation through the processes of inversion, translocation, deletion, insertion and duplication. From heterogeneous beginnings, a further universe of variation is unveiled. Keyboards appear between swirling strings, cooing flute and carousing clarinet. Suddenly everything gels for a fleeting bar, before the mutations once again assert themselves.
Across Disintegration: Mutation, Decibel displays a subtle and nuanced integration of electronic and acoustic elements. Transcending the norms of musical performance, the ensemble allow buildings to speak for themselves, and tour areas more used to witnessing Whispering Jack tributes. Decibel is one mutation to the dynamic of an isolated city that warrants further investigation. For the curious amongst you, find out much more about Decibel, in their own words, which are certainly more knowledgeable and succinct than those of your humble scribe. – Cyclic Defrost