The Grain

Released 2012 on Trilithon
The Seth Man, November 2012ce
“The Grain” is BIG and Slomo IS slow motion at the speed of slug trudge over transcontinental salt flats, leaving a cosmic trail of sonic slime that suggests symbolic reenactments of ancient myths animated only by light and shadow flickering on the walls of caves, mountains ranges, surfaces of natural structures, entire continents, and in your mind.

Slomo is Holy McGrail and Howard Marsden, two spatialnauts who’ve been effortlessly traversing that slippery slope of electronic music armed only with hyperawareness, pneuma, and keen detailing alone. But on their third and latest release, “The Grain,” their footing is higher and firmer than ever. How the passage of something so slow can still be perceived as actually moving -- let alone having been specifically produced and created that way -- is astonishing. Not only because this might be the music of the Long Now as posited by Brian Eno in the late 20th Century, but also that of eternity rendered in time-lapse frames condensed into a mere 67 minutes, 32 seconds. Either way, it is excellent use of electricity and could quite possibly qualify as a future ancestor of Music of the Long Descent Into Now with its virtual soundtracking of the transit of the shortest measurable unit of time, Planck Time (the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length; 1 Planck length is about 10−20 times the diameter of a proton) as translated into a consistently, quietly and ever-changing slog for an hour-plus. The first lines of William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” relate more than a little to this transcendental perspective:

‘To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.’

Make that eternity in 67 minutes, 32 seconds and you have “The Grain,” with that Blakean grain of sand microscopically enlarged to the size of a planet with the diameter of a sun -- but perceived aurally, not visually.

I don’t know how Slomo did it, either. Or what instruments (musical or otherwise) were employed, or if it was just easier for them to project it all via ESP onto a hard drive as a lossless FLAC file. But I do know that the interplay here is magnetic and majestic, its balance is intuitively felt and the placement of everything is scored perfectly upon the surface of the heavy rag content paper blitz tissue of reality while a fierce economy underlies it all. Their controlled tones of wavering bass frequencies disturb the foundations of any nearby structure while drones emanating as if from a gigantic stone hurdy-gurdy grind out sonic starstorms until both weave together into a massive, though massively quiet, interplay of forces akin to a 600,000,000x magnification of the sound of the magnetic field of two 50 tonne magnets chained together to their opposing sides. Meanwhile, long-imploded galaxies finally reaching a Hubble telescopic recording device on Earth are transferred to operate as the slowest possible rhythm track...Or at least: as a contrast to all the eternal ebb and flow at play.

The title track, “The Grain,” is pure aural clear air turbulence with intermittent roars of cosmic debris down the chute sometime later combining with a tolling bell tone as a light mist of white noise rain falls gently in the distant. The clang of some unknown instrument rebounds in deepest reverb like King Tubby’s Greenwich Town echo chamber rebuilt to the size of the Milky Way. Its perimeters set to the exact specifications of scale, it makes all the movements of neighbouring galaxies tower in massive audio refractions. Bass frequencies emerge and gain ground ever so slowly until they rumble and wind around your intestines out from hidden corners while long-forgotten space whispers echo, decay and fall off the range of human audibility. The bass throb gradually rises to curl into bowel-tormenting arabesques that swamp everything, but only in the most subtle way. Everything soon passes through a reverberation belt of sizable depth, until it dawns on you that things have been mutating for so long, so slow, and to such an extent that the now melting signals are unrecognisable to all that has preceded. Upended by random bursts of lurching pitch shifting, it will gradually land back into the silence from whence it emerged.

“Against The Grain” is the second piece. Commencing with rapid mechanical percussive calculations that rap out forgotten codices of time, space, the infinite and beyond like some ancient dymo-tapewriter patiently punching out name tags for all the gods and goddesses who ever lived prior to their departure into eternity’s folds, it will soon fold into feebly responding to a revolving door of sonic blasts left by the winds of time, frozen in space -- yet moving -- while captured in a zone of confounding M.C. Escher-what-the-fuck-ness. At some unknown point either 20 minutes, hours or years later, an unidentified resonance inhabits a Ligeti-like chorale but as amplified through the last remaining quad CD-4 speaker in the universe. The cone is shredded, the grille is missing and oddly, the cable is missing. But it just hangs there in space as its projections of voices waver, shift and decay. These and other frequencies buzz, crackle and fry as they hit an radiation belt and fade almost entirely from view. But as the superseding droning continues, so does the miniscule half-life of sonic debris, crackling and twinkling in the deep sonic distance like self-illuminating deep sea jellyfish in an ocean the size of a galaxy too fades.

“The Grain” has all the space in the universe, all the time in the world and all possible dimensional nodes in a single reality reside here.