Abby Lee Tee | Imaginary Friends I
Austrian sound artist Abby Lee Tee has been on the scene since around 2011, and his sound has always maintained maximum minimalism. An uncompromising approach to his material floods these twenty minutes with even more experimental gestures than usual. By its title we may assume that Imaginary Friends I is the first in a series. Let’s hope so.
On this tape, two tracks, one per side, Tee attempts to define this world as: “While imaginary companions are still mistakenly associated with deficits or even mental health issues most of the time, researchers say that they can be an important way to develop creativity and coping skills, not only for children. Beside bedding your cuddly toys for the night, it just feels natural to build them a sonic home too, twisting everyday-life sounds as well as acoustic instruments and arcane field recordings, always exploring the boundaries of human perceptions of nature and artificial worlds.”
On Simulacrum I-VII we are introduced to what are likely layered, echoed, (manipulated) field recordings. There is a whole lot of tiny actions like: creaking, steam, bouncing. It is a unique and introspective approach to combining industrial sounds with the everyday. The drone tying this together is effusive, and really just a base, which slips from earshot to make way for repeating bird calls, buzzing insects and plenty of rat-a-tat-tat. It’s a (almost) live experiment in progress it seems. But the tings and other tactile sounds are aligned to a visceral way of working. A time to break free of the virtual anonymity of social media and get to something for the senses.
Simulacrum VIII-XIV goes one further by adding a constant toot at the opening, and plenty liquified gurgling, and though it gives off this sense of slight uneasiness. Aimless horns, sparse percussion and instant effects become a completely abstract and very out there work of contemporary jazz. There seems something fleeting here, perhaps the conceptual guise of the ‘imaginary friend’ – which is the counterpoint to the tangible atonal nature of the recording. But it is just that which makes this so incredibly listenable, almost fetishistic for those who love the nature of sound in its umpteen variables. Towards the end there are half-beats that are more like attempting to get a auto starter working against an alternator that refuses to kick in. Interspersed are continued sloshing and naked percussion. The foghorn at the very end is apropos.