The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Sone Institute
Curious Memories jonny mugwump , March 17th, 2010 12:14

A gong, a sonic flash of lightning and 'Inter Assylum Cross Country' comes on like a Spaghetti Western in Leeds — looped Wurlitzer, sporadic timpani, rich startled synth lines and a becalmed climax with brief choral reverb. Quick sharp, less than two minutes later it's a hard jolt into 'The Wind Began to Switch' with stunted grimy guitar hiccup, stabbing brass eruptions, a clipped Edie Hazelesque wah wah solo, handclaps, several seemingly dissociated rhythmic foundations (one coming on pure My Bloody Valentine), orchestral flourishes in a Blaxploitation stylee, a rapid breakdown into cartoon theatricals, a fuck-off choir . . . OK, I really could go on and we've still not made the four minute mark yet.

Welcome, then, to the overloaded world of Sone Institue (aka Roman Bezdyk) and Curious Memories, his debut album, on the excellent Manchester-based Front & Follow label. As you might already have gathered, Sone Institute's methodology is one of sampladelic chaos: seemingly, to throw as much eclectic sound (found sound, stringed instruments, classroom percussion) at the wall as is inhumanly possible and see what sticks. It's a high-wire act and there's no denying that the album constantly threatens to degenerate into a right wacky mess. But Bezdyk confidently dances on said wire so nimbly that it might as well be a football pitch. As frenetic as Curious Memories is, as insanely diverse as its sound sources are, the different elements never jar with each other — there's a distinct lack of both tonal and aesthetic friction. Let's face it, it's not actually difficult to just find a bunch of different noises and mix them together — but to make it work is quite an achievement. Luke Vibert has always been a master sample sandwich-maker but sometimes he can produce extraordinarily irritating results, like mixing a flute with a dentist's drill and a badger and a harp and the war on drugs or something.

Sone Institute has real feeling for the carnivalesque. This album feels like a joyous and uncyncial celebration of music — a hyperactive beanbag of sound. 'On Tree Hill' features an utterly infectious soup of Indian strings, a Wurlitzer burbling out the melody to 'I Only Have Eyes for You', brass fanfares, restless flute, dislocated orchestrations — all tied up in a truly delightful waltz. It's not all a rush: Bezdyk can let go of the giddy whirl and allow himself to breathe, as on 'Dark Forest', which mixes Victorialand-era Cocteau Twins guitars against birdsong, backwards harp, distant voices, seagulls and those crucial miniature electronic melodies. The final track, 'Sleep Has Its Embers', is a particularly gorgeous collage of strings, mysterious drones and a plaintive plucked harp. At just over a minute long, it's a beautiful way to bring proceedings to a close.

In some ways Curious Memories comes across as the more good-time twin of last year's superb Circulations by Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples. While it might disregard the latter's guerrilla-like intellectual concerns, there's a wildly invigorating approach to ingredients that Heston Blumenthal would be proud of, and a gleeful disregard for narrative. However, it's never so abstract as to forget its purpose for pleasure — Sone Institue will effortlessly brighten your darkest day.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.