Jasmine Guffond | Degradation Loops
Australian sound artist Jasmine Guffond‘s Degradation Loops was just released via Berlin imprint Karl who have been serving many delights in 2018. This half hour long singular piece starts with incidental chatter in a public place in what the artist refers to as being “initially a sixteen day process of sonic destruction created for an art exhibition.” What becomes evident rather quickly is that Guffond is unafraid of this sense of beauty in question, unbalanced detritus layered in a collage style of happenstance and assorted harmonies. I notice a quasi Middle Eastern feel to the central track. While the effects explore the textural surface and underpinnings of drone I hear the wavering hypnotic core. I hear a rattle similar to a spray paint can readying to make its mark, I hear a bustling youthful crowd at a cultural center or coffee house, and when all combined you’d think it was a bit of a cock-up, but this has quite a few intricate corners being navigated rather intently.
One of my favorite pieces of art is Rauschenberg’s Erased deKooning, so needless to say I was fairly excited to know halfway through this that the impetus was “a process of sonic destruction unfolded in response to a group show where visual artists destroyed and reassembled their work, to create new work, and to question the dominance of commercial imperatives within art“. Conceptual, soulful, and physical in description and in output. What sounds like a set of stringed instruments being played with a serrated knife simply drifts dreamily into the bright, diaphanous setting. All I can think of as I get deeper and deeper are lumins built from tuned frequencies, making what I hear become what I see, and/or perhaps vice versa. There is also something about stasis, and not of the assimilated variety either. She presents a counter to what we expect from sound that is stimulating or beautiful, instead of being only momentary, this leaves a mark.
The mark I mention, like that of an impression left behind, a fossil, something truly embedded in the moment and left for later discovery. In this way it dawns on me that the collective mix is not very different from photography (those lumins I mentioned), this impression, a momentary gaze, a literal capture. Though Guffond goes one further, allowing her impression/s to fade, smudge and otherwise get completely contorted into the larger din of her own making. Yes, this record takes you from the everyday into a hive of psychedelic noise bliss that by the end may as well be hard rock speed metal. From start to finish this thing rises gradually and throws the listener to the lions in a fiery, degrading cycle of genuinely abstractions that will take you for a loop.