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Not Really Now Not Any More Antonio Poscic , July 11th, 2019 11:23

The new album by Lisbon electronic artist Ondness takes inspiration from the same graffiti that triggered Alan Garner's Red Shift, finds Antonio Poscic

One of the inspirations for Alan Garner’s 1973 fantasy novel Red Shift was a graffito that the author saw at a railway station. “Not really now not any more”, it said, scribbled in lipstick beneath the names of two lovers. Or so the story goes. As Mark Fisher will later conclude in his book The Weird and the Eerie, it’s a phrase that balances between banal nonsense and a cryptic redolence. It suggests a secret knowledge scattered among us, but imperceptible. A forgotten epiphany about the world and the future, perhaps. On his new record under the Ondness moniker, Lisbon’s Bruno Silva borrows and repurposes this phrase to explore a similarly ambiguous yet revealing aesthetic of abstract electronic music.

Not Really Now Not Any More is built around the concept that we are “constantly floating around unfinished ideas”. To prove his point, Silva shuffles and rearranges austere, faintly defined fragments of music, fading them in and out continually. The fragments themselves are eclectic, split-second windows into various genres. On ‘Ares Disto’, he juggles disassembled trap tropes and conjures a synthetic basketball bouncing on sticky summer concrete, while ‘Casa Fora Fallout’ hisses itself into a state of hypnagogic vaporwave.

‘Pombos’ comes closest to a fully formed IDM cut, with tiny clicks and whirls arranged into solid rhythms and upheld by snippets of a nonexistent sci-fi show’s soundtrack. The standout ‘Esquina, Espera’ then turns to dub by dropping boxes on a floor littered with digital found sounds, sequences of glitches, and a reggae microsample that seems to disappear as soon as it’s noticed. Like frames of a show caught while TV zapping, echoes of echoes appear briefly at the limit of perception.

The sounds Silva synthesizes are oblique and roughly defined, overheard through walls and recreated from memory into an identikit. Most of Ondness’s shivers are thus of a percussive nature, ranging from raucous thumping and bristly sibilance to the gentle rain of static electricity. The occasional ASMR-like quality of these noises means that, despite this abundance of ideas which Silva throws into the mix, the album is strangely soothing.

Throughout Not Really Now Not Any More, the flux and mutual dynamics of sounds appear more important than textures. That’s why, while individual fragments might indeed be “unfinished”, the pieces and album as a whole present a very precise, deliberate vision. The opening ‘Torre’ makes tinkles clash like elements in a particle physics simulation, while synths affected by the Doppler effect swell beneath them, shifting closer and farther way. Perceived from afar, ‘Lobos da Capital’ sounds like a club take on Cumbia, something out of the oeuvre of Elysia Crampton broken by streaming problems. Individual ideas try to break free from each other but keep getting pulled back, all gooey, like bubblegum.

It’s only fitting for the closing ‘Torre’ to be named the same as the first song while not really the same, not now, not anymore. It’s the beginning that’s the end that’s the beginning. A new loop of the cyclical, hyperactive nature of the world in 2019 where Not Really Now Not Any More becomes its sonic manifestation.