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Neo Seven Antonio Poscic , August 9th, 2023 07:48

From Blank Forms, the latest from US musician Neo Gibson provides a perfect point of access into their unique and wide-ranging oeuvre, finds Antonio Poscic

Listening to Virginia-based artist Neo Gibson’s latest release under their 7038634357 alias, I’m reminded of the concept of audio geography, which Manchester based musician and researcher Michael Gallagher explored in his 2015 paper Sounding Ruins: Reflections On The Production Of An ‘Audio Drift’. For Gallagher, audio geography is the use of sound and music to enhance the experience of particular places in an effort of “amplifying their haunted and uncanny qualities”. While Gibson’s music isn’t functional by design, it possesses an ineffable flair similar to Gallagher’s audio drifts that makes it feel as if it was meant to heighten our senses, attuning them to otherwise imperceptible layers in the physical and subjective spaces around us.

And as our world appears increasingly in ruins but not without its wonders, so is Neo Seven drenched in delicate ennui, an innocent sort of Weltschmerz that exists out of time yet remains anchored in the moment. The seven cuts echo a bygone era – of mumblecore, internet communities, blogs and blossoming micro scenes – but never fully slip into nostalgia or lose touch with contemporary, social media inflected trends. Instead, pieces such as ‘Winded’ pulse into life from waves of soft, nearly inaudible static that feel and sound alive. The specks of noise breathe in and breathe out, slowly transforming into a fragmented harmony, before ultimately succumbing to stabs of modulating harsh noise.

As on the opener, Gibson’s touch remains elegantly simple across the remaining tracks, each of them relying on a minimal palette of textures, tacit rhythms and solitary tones to convey a lush sense of ambience. On ‘Everytime’, we’re placed in a desolate location, a train station at the end of the line, perhaps. Soon, its grey stillness is broken by shy, colourful blobs that explore the cavernous space, ushering in Gibson’s processed voice. ‘Square Heart’ and ‘Acolyte’ follow similar sonic patterns for dissonant emotional effects. The former is akin to a memory of a sepia ballad, complete with undecipherable but vital vocal passages, while the latter punctuates silences with trembling, poignant textures.

Meanwhile, distinct rhythms surface on ‘Overbraid’, amid gestures that sound like slow motion deconstructions of Underworld’s electronica, and ‘Perfect Night’ ends the album with a contrast of elegiac atmospheres, growling stabs of digital noise, and Gibson’s clear and for the first time unprocessed voice fluttering serenely above the chaos. As a whole, Neo Seven is as lovely and thoughtful as any of 7038634357’s previous records. With such a wide range of their styles on display, it’s also a perfect entry-point into a unique musical world. I encourage everyone to explore it.