It’s always a good day when I have the opportunity to listen to and review a fellow interdisciplinary artist. And here we have Portuguese experimenter Vitor Joaquim and his ninth solo effort, the self-released Impermanence (USB & DL) out on June 7. There’s a lot going on here, so listen closely. Being both a multi-instrumentalist and visual artist allows Joaquim a bit more leeway to develop a signature sound that stirs up a whole lot of dusky atmosphere. For example, on Here and Now the wafting harmony is digitally generated like a quasi-ambient matrix of short buzztones and percussive flutters. As it gently folds into Stillness, all perfectly veiled as the track slowly unfurls with an elegant sonic structure. Speaking of structures, Rui Grazina designed the very special ltd edition of 20 with the USB located inside, see below image.
The title is the truism of our times, simply detailing our place on the planet as temporary. He incorporates various edited voice samples throughout and they are perfectly embedded into the subtle layers in the mix. On the title track a tape-letter from ‘Tommy G to Maria P‘ orates a Californian family excursion. The balance of drone and stunning organ is hauntingly elusive. The speaker goes on about his trip, not revealing too much, except places on the map he’s visited. And then mentions that he visits a monastery daily, but only about his process of reaching out via taped recordings. So his message is a bit short on real detail, allowing the sounds to dance around the subject of impermanence.
Like puzzle pieces, these tracks are woven impeccably together, unlike its theme that rides the rails of breaking apart. Desire is stylish, with a slight Asian flair via vibraphone which is perfectly icy yet colorful. The track sort of stutters with rounded edges parallel with inventive electronics. The two tracks that follow seem to be a broken couple: Gratitude and Contentment and Suffering and Detachment. The mix sizzles with alluring crackle and hiss that recalls some of the best microsound circa the early oughts. On the latter track becoming a bit more aggressive, yet still with a refined sense of restraint. It’s chalky and upset, and fills all corners of air space.
I find the USB-pen Visacard-style presentation/packaging, which I need to get my hands on, to be unique and likely there will be more like releases from other artists who understand that virtual can have a boring effect to the beholder. On the final piece, Here is Where is All the Happiness That You Can Find, effectively uses a portion of an Arvo Part interview taken from the BBC’s “Modern Minimalists with Bjork”. I’m lost in this, a floating work of genius. Suspended, the broken thoughts are delivered as an ethereal exquisite corpse. The ending here is simply sublime as he wishes us “goodnight“.