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Asemix Antonio Poscic , July 19th, 2021 08:31

The debut album by Nick Zanca and Mari Maurice (alias more eaze) as Asemix is full of vivid surprises, finds Antonio Poscic

A few years ago, while traipsing through an art exhibition, I found myself in a tunnel of sorts. Cordoned off in a narrow passage between claustrophobic white walls, it took me a second to grasp that the video feed projected on them was showing – me. Or, rather, versions of myself that existed several seconds in the past.

While I later learned that Leticia Ferreira de Souza and Murilo Paiva Homs’s installation Streams From the Past built on the idea of “a critical look at live streaming technologies and the supposed authenticity of real time performances in such platforms”, the concept itself seemed beside the point. It was the piece’s existential wonder that imprinted on me. In it, I found drama on a subliminal level: simple technology designed to provoke a visceral effect, as if opening a window into a skewed version of reality. Listening to the music that Nick Zanca and Mari Maurice (alias more eaze) make as Asemix, I find myself falling into this sensation again.

At first glance, Asemix’s debut is not really a composition, but a collage of various known and unknown sounds. Field recordings, synths, mutated vocals, acoustic instruments, and noise are layered into a fabric. At times dense, at others sparse, the exquisite sound design possesses a curious quality of being physically pleasing and soothing. But as gentle tingles and crackles swarm around an invisible central rhythm, a certain noise – a different one during each listen – draws attention to itself. Sometimes it’s a tubular wind lick or a glinting synth that surfaces and, like a white rabbit, demands to be followed, only to rearrange the perception of the whole piece. In one of these moments, ‘Phantom Lung’ becomes a reflection of reality that we are not really privy to. In another, the arrangement of sounds leaves a trail of empty spaces and question marks, asking for personal offerings needed to complete its narrative.

Then an electromagnetic storm blitzes a sunny day on ‘Rehearsal Earthquake’, frizzling with modulating frequencies like something Thomas Dimuzio might extract from shortwave radio. ‘Lakebrain’ sets up an atmosphere not quite sure whether it wants to be a threat or a comfort when it grows up as children’s laughter echoes against shuddering glitches reminiscent of Coil’s ‘Are You Shivering?’ Later, there are whispers and murmurs and grandiose bass lines and booms on ‘Scotch Mist’ and ‘Communal Nude’, yet even the most concrete of sonic forms feel elusive and misleading here. These aural hints are vivid enough to spur on imagination, but sufficiently hermetic for them not to ever be fully comprehended and turned into trite associations. Asemix’s world remains their own.

Though both Zanca and Maurice’s personal touches flourish on this record, the five cuts still impress like creations of surprise, as if what they ended up with was not really what they expected. Perhaps it was all a consequence of the long-distance and asynchronous collaboration. Or maybe just the inevitable result of two magnificent creative clouds colliding.