When Sails Fold by Brandon Auger

Brandon Auger | When Sails Fold
Mystery & Wonder Records (CDR/DL)

This short record of sine wave oscillators and field recordings is something fresh from Halifax-based Brandon Auger on Mystery & Wonder Records. If you love minimalistic performative approaches, this is for your ears. It’s a dose of spatial and spacey considerations in short sonic nuggets. It has an industrial outer shell filled with echoed reverb and a cloak of mystery.

When Sails Fold is discordant, though attended to with great care and sense of scope, here quite minimal. The standout track, Green Tank, is under two minutes, and in that terse passage pulls you depths below in a fluid set of implications, followed by the playful (video gamelike) Shield Phase which incoporates these twisted popping effects as if shooting a laser into the dark.

This is far too brief an introduction, but albeit a perfect teaser, to Auger’s work. However, this may be his debut, I cannot find much more to negate that. This is the type of sound work that you’d expect to encounter as part of an installation or intermediate snippets in a live performance that might include other collaborative elements (film, dance/movement, light). There’s plenty of monotonal nuances in his sinewave studies – much more gritty than the technical fodder of early Raster-Noton for instance – but at times just as alienating.

For its brief duration this covers more territory than you might expect at the outset, and for my ears he’s on top of his game at his most playful, and less in the more stoic pieces. Northern Compass seems to be a nice blend of both. And as for field recordings, he’s justifiably integrated any such into the mix in a way as to mask their original form. The closing piece, Guncutter, is like being trapped inside a bubble, sounds of movement, of voices and friction seem muted, until a sort of analogue effect twitches the whole out of rotation. It’s agitation is slightly unsettling, in the best possible way.

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