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EVANS, GRANT - Brittle

Format: MC
Label & Cat.Number: Helen Scarsdale Agency HMS034
Release Year: 2015
Note: two side-long pieces between noise & multi-layered ambience on this new C-32 in the nice Helen Scarsdale cassette-series; the compositions slowly morph from one state to another figuration with almost no recognizable sound source present... "Brittle is capable of opening vast worlds to its audience" [Heathen Harvest]
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"With a detached curiosity, Grant Evans drops us into his petri dish of mud, bacteria, and fetid slop. At first, we have no roadmap to the drowning noise that slowly trickles down the throat and presses against the ear drums; but Evans is no sadist. Yes, volatile coagulations and conflagrations abound with malaise at the beginning to each of the side-long works to Brittle -- itself a vibrant landmark in the Evans' rhizomatic back catalogue that slips through harsh wall noise, kosmische explorations, dronologist collage, and the like. But upon the discharge of that initial shard of tooth and blood, Evans tempers the atmospheric pressures and illumines a path by which to proceed. Beacons of monochord guitar. Radiant dispersions of glare and trill. Compacted bowed metal resonance. Interstitial ecological sounds from water, bird, and tree. Exhumed cassette minimalism. And a gasping, pulsing, morphing drone that bends around each of these sound objects. Such is the vivid unfurling of Brittle -- a meticulous and wondrous bricolage of the exploded organic. Parallels to be found in Chalk, Organum, Toniutti, and Grzinich. Grant Evans hails from the northeast corner of Georgia, from where he has produced an impressive array of works under various aliases and in collaboration with his wife Rachel. Together they had run the now defunct Hooker Vision imprint, whose curatorial vision was unmatched in their discovery of unknowable projects from the margins of the global cassette underground. Currently, they maintain a smaller cottage industry Adversary, solely dedicated to their own projects." [label info]


"On this new tape, the prolific Evans draws from the styles he has worked in heavily before: noise, electro-acoustic, and ambient, but Brittle bears the mark of all without sounding like any one in particular. The two lengthy pieces cover a significant amount of sonic territory, and he makes remarkably diverse and complex compositions from a world of unidentifiable sound.

The first half of the cassette, "Pills in the Reptile House," opens with Evans employing a loop of rattling sounds almost resembling a microcassette recorder left in a running washing machine. The sound is rhythmic, yet processed to have a hollow, strange quality to it as additional textures and processed noises are worked in. Evans eventually strips the mix back, retaining the scraping but in a more open space, blended with reverberating strings that could be either piano or guitar and shrill, harsher electronics.

The composition as a whole has a clear sense of structure and organization to it, even if the sounds Evans utilizes are anything but conventional. Sounds become shimmering, metallic, and a bit dissonant at one point, before the piece overall becomes softer and is largely characterized around gentle electronics. Changes are subtler toward the conclusion, the sense of structure is lessened, and the piece concludes on stuttering, digital-like vibrations.

On the other side of the tape, Evans opens "Lineage" with a more familiar bit of overdriven noise crunch. Paired with a passage of metallic banging noises, the sound is not far removed from the likes of classic Macronympha, but the harshness is short lived as he quickly shakes things up to a more spacious sound. Besides dropping the distortion, Grant introduces birdsong recordings and subtle loops of noise. The composition eventually takes on a futuristic, but pleasant quality to the sound, without a lot of change but still complex, tightly woven layers that vary. What initially has a sci-fi, futuristic quality to it eventually is shifted away into the cold, empty expanse of deep space.

Brittles name is a bit misleading, because I would characterize the sounds Grant Evans generates as being closer to mud and muck as far as tactile metaphors go. It is sticky, gritty, and at times ugly sounding, but that is exactly what makes it compelling. I have no idea how he made these sounds, since almost nothing is identifiable, but I am rather glad that he did." [Creaig Dunton / Brainwashed]