Fossil Aerosol Mining Project | The Recounting Of Night Time
The Helen Scarsdale Agency (CD/DL)
Chicago’s Fossil Aerosol Mining Project has an interesting history dating back to the 80s with many recordings in their discography. Since 2015 The Helen Scarsdale Agency has been assisting in unearthing their work, and bringing new work to light. This opens with the enigmatic violin swirls and decaying electronic manipulations on An Unexpected Appearance of Folkway. They explain the process of composing this work back in 2014:
“The source material focuses principally on a certain piece of German gothic cinema made during the late 1970s. This material was culled from both VHS audio tracks, as well a ‘field recording’ made at a poorly-attended screening of the film in a decaying theater in St. Louis, Missouri sometime during the mid- 1980s. Evidence of video control track glitches are present, while the scent of the acutely mildewed theater is recollected and implied.”
The fusion of these techniques reminds me of the work of Dan Burke (Illusion of Safety) who also hails form the same region. There is something undefined about the approach here, the experiment of delivering a concoction that walks the thin line between beauty and the other side of the mirror. It’s an encoded mix, so layered, the drones becomes this secretive shroud of sorts (Scratching the Mirror, Binary in Tradition). There are voices well depressed into the fabric of these scratchy surfaces.
As this is my true introduction to their work, I’m fascinated by their strange subtleties. Though I was privy to their 2014 manipulations of the work of :zoviet*france: [Circa 10.12 (via 10.13)]. The track Passage is a graceful work of pure empirical control. It’s tedious, but doesn’t sound so, in fact quite the opposite. The mechanisms here may be incredibly fussy, but the atmosphere is somewhere between dreamlike and hypnotic, leaving you in a bit of an unexplained stasis. And the recording, which is quite lengthy overall, takes its time on delivering this to the entire body, especially on the near twelve minute piece, The Retelling of Fragmentary Legend which at times sounds as if it’s gasping, and at others, rolling back time.
Throughout there are plenty of pleasing short melodies, shorter undefined effects – all leading to an ambient record that defies its genre. Take, for instance, Emptying the Village, which seems to tell a short melancholic story without uttering a single verse, not even a word. The Recounting Of Night Time actually has the weight of memory on its broad shoulders, but seems to undertake the playback with a lush finesse as it drifts on and on.
There are uncertain moments in repose like Tsints Number 4 which just stares and whispers with looped impressions of hiss and crackle, eventually becoming a harmonic cloud of thick drone. From this state of limbo the listener is led to the concluding Film Grain Horizon, a more active piece, yet which offers actions that are quite peculiarly based in lively timbre and echo – bathed in milky, translucent tones. They have some in common with the way in which William Basinski shapes his tapeloops, though with a bit more physical control of brightness/sharpness at play. By the end you’d swear you were at sea with lightly lapping waves just within range. It’s the perfect balance of sleep inducing and manually operative – keeping your ears bent to the very end.