The fantastic debut release on Activated Skeleton is a mesmerising journey through atonal rhythms and junkyard electronic manipulations
Activated Skeleton| February 2022 | Digital & Cassette | Bandcamp
The first release by new label Activated Skeleton is a sensory heavy split by Nodolby and Marsha Fisher. At its core, both artists offer up a side each of exhilarating tape manipulations, percussive junk electronics and camouflaged found sounds.
Things begins with Nodolby presenting ‘Nastri Del Mister’, a 15-minute sound collage that runs through several different movements that never feels its length. Three minutes of looping, heavy junktronics rumble and roll, finding and settling into their own rhythms. Before a relative quiet emerges and the sounds of manipulated birds reverberate, sounding distant and mechanical. Later, lo-fi drums and percussive elements enter the shifting frame and back-up queasy tape loop manipulations, which have just a little splash of vaporwave woven into their threadbare DNA.
Throughout there is always a sense of propulsion, with each movement adding variety in tone and timbre, so any repetition does not become mere repeating but an entrancing evolution. It feels like we are following a frayed ribbon blowing through mysterious landscapes. We may have little idea where the source is, or even if or when a destination may appear, but it’s still a thrilling experience to follow.
The composition builds towards passages of minor quietude creating small pauses — especially one really effective section of stereo panning — between the louder, distorted passages. A fractured voice later emerges, before the piece culminates with strong rhythmic percussion that is reminiscent in places to early The Microphones and a love of play throughout the recording process.
Marsha Fisher contributes three equally as thrilling shorter pieces. ‘9–26–2021’ jumps straight out of the gate with a mesmerising onslaught of manipulated percussive elements and droning moans. Similar to Nodolby’s contribution there is a freedom and looseness of movement in the construction of these sounds. The chaotic rhythms bridge the tonal and atonal elements and still keep us grounded, while we are mesmerised by what could be a killer distorted drum solo that sounds like it could have been recorded submerged under water or even in an electric storm.
‘10–30–2021' begins quietly and builds an acute sense of mystery with its textural musique concrète scrapes, rubs and rattles, and functions as a moment of eerie calm and the chance to grab some air after the heaviness of what came before it.
The release ends with ‘12–27–2021’ and a showcase of wonderful scrapbook junk percussion that presents a fractured sense of rhythm, which simultaneously sounds remote and personal. This is a great way to end the release and is hopefully a strong signifier of the noise and sound art Activated Skeleton will continue to welcome with subsequent releases.
This split offers up a variety of visceral sound collage compositions which embrace the best moments of junktronics and manipulated field recordings. It takes the listener on a journey that always remains mysterious, leaving us wanting more and rewarding repeated listens. Fans of Aaron Dilloway style experimental noise will find a lot to admire here.
A gorgeous physical edition is available by way of home-dubbed cassettes with unique j-cards cut from the original collage. This aesthetic is a perfect encapsulation and accompaniment of the sonically-rich sounds of this release — creating something new from the ephemeral and making us feel something along the way.
Listen + support: https://activatedskeleton.bandcamp.com/releases