Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 11 News List

CD reviews

Shriek, by Wye Oak; That’s Harakiri, by Sd Laika

By NATE CHINEN & BEN RATLIFF  /  NY Times News Service

What a beginning. Runge works with sharp and focused electronic beats, but also with the dirtiest kind of sounds, both analog and digital: room sound or tape hiss or bicycle bells, synthesizer tones that have been corrupted so as to sound like erasures, or echoes, or some kind of aural stain left behind by a sound that went on to do something more important.

The first few tracks here — Peace, Great God Pan and Gutter Vibrations — use bits of melody that repeat aimlessly and rhythmic structures that keep the tracks from falling apart, but other than that, there’s no recapitulation or development: These things go from A to B, but never back to A again. Sd Laika is too busy pushing toward new and uncomfortable sensations, and he makes an impressively weird habit of bringing the volume up and down, seemingly at random, never patterned.

And what an end. Don’t Know builds up to twisted cross-rhythms, a spray of echo and then a full stop in 30 seconds; it starts again, with thumping, strobing beats and a little micro-melody; at a minute and 40 seconds, there’s another rupture, another brief silence, and another profound change. (He temporarily mutes or hides whatever feels right and comfortable to the listener — an old trick, but one that he never performs in a clinical way.)

It’s Ritual sounds as if it were going to be the most straightforward dance track — a two-step stomp whose rhythm quickly starts subdividing — but instead of peaking around the middle, as dance tracks often do, it starts emptying out, draining itself of life; the last 20 seconds contain a single rhythm getting fainter and fainter.

— BEN RATLIFF, NY Times News Service

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