From the top of Climb we are in suspense (or Suspended as it were). This is the latest EP, a digital release in six parts (Amazon/Bandcamp etc.) from Australian audio bender, Daniel McCagh (aka Gutterbox). It’s anxious ambient, like a short film thriller. The soft synthetic edges of Tightrope opens into a concave vortex the clatters into the distance and into the foreground, surrounding you sideways. The balance between a quiet and harsher layer seem to compete with each other until completing each other, like a ‘dangling chad’ of least resistance, alas, the classic tale of survival of the fittest. In part three, A Knife’s Edge, a propeller beat stays within range as an illusory drone floats and drops into Dyspneic.
And as the short breaths hasten, a tingling synth effect massages your mind for the final two brief works, Disequilibrium and Reaching Light. With blurred rumbling that rushes in, then quickly vanishes into a wispy darkened chamber of echo, the mood shifts to dread. That is until a tender bell chimes, ringing into the finale where a sky opening synth enters and disrupts any potential for destruction. A clean, crisp happy ending. The 68 second long piece is more an excerpt, like three-quarters of this record’s truncated vignettes, to get the full gist.
Suspended (DistroKid) feels more like a finely produced sampler, not of styles, but of atmospheres, in which the artist is in capable control. This is not a conceptual record, nor one where one track flows specifically into the next – often that is the way I ‘read’ a recording, as the flow matters. However, in its defense, it is an EP of prowess, and these short snippets are truly intriguing bit ventures that could easily be imagined elongated into singular full length extended plays – or even remixed ad nauseam. The textures here are not just topical, in fact it has that much needed edge in the larger world of gauzy pre-programmed thematics. For an artist who has otherwise developed work for commercial use (products, sports, science) he understands how to best deploy his style, and I anticipate a fully realized album that uses this or other material, something ala the next iteration of output from the long defunct Instinct imprint for instance. Keep our ears bent.