Fusiform by Jamie Drouin

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Jamie Drouin | Fusiform
Infrequency Editions (DL)

Here we have Fusiform, eight new compositions for Buchla synthesizer and magnetic tape by sound/visual artist Jamie Drouin. From the top its a bit of a rewinding memory eraser. The way in which the tape/s are manipulated delicately flutter, only revealing a hint of wavy rhythm as it falls, elapses, and otherwise flails into a fade. Parts of this sound like the pitch of metal locomotive wheels screeching to an elongated halt, but done so with a restrained finesse. Donald “Don” Buchla (1937-2016) was an American synthesizer pioneer but doesn’t get an inkling as much credit as Robert Moog did for his accomplishments within the world of such delicate and strange sound technology. In the past two years I have noticed more attention being cast in Buchla’s direction, and this recording is one of the few that are stalwart standouts in the use of the synth (Nathan Moody’s recent Heliopause also comes to mind).

Drouin’s sound is completely mesmerizing, encompassing the room in deep bass lows and amorphous forms that dis/appear in a non-sequential way that wanders. Fusiform 3 seems like a series of tone-tests that play on this, but dare to resist being held to a clinical staging. The listener will be engaged by blobby shaped sounds that wink to an old-school Atari console, only reshaped with a lingering moodiness. This only becomes further immersed within the intense (and best track here to these ears) Fusiform 5. While the drone is perplexing enough, there is this background grind that sounds like a blade being sharpened upon a lathe, and a sporadic echoed metal ping. It’s centering and disconcerting.

There is a strong sense of timing here, the allowance for each piece to have its very own singularity. Even though this comes off as separate vignettes they also easily flow from one to the next with a clean program from end to end. It’s almost akin to a radically changing weather system, like on those days when a sunshower suddenly appears after some unexpected wind gust, and then all is calm. The embedded sense of mystery comes in shifts that are subtle, yet engaging at every turn. Drouin incorporates low rumbling, bright pitch that swells and is bent into organic shapes. Fusiform whispers, howls and hums.

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