EROSIONS – Lutnahimat

07/02/2011

EROSIONS

Lutnahimat

Erosions is an intriguing album by Lutnahimat, aka London based composer/sound sculptor Ian S, released on Aural Terrains

The three pieces on the album are made from home made electronic instruments (which could be software or hardware though I suspect the latter) and field recordings.

I found out that Lutnahimat is currently working on ‘minimal electronic music using purpose-built devices and self-written signal processing programs’. This begs the questions: why minimal electronic music and what does minimal mean? In fact I defy anyone to tell me what this means, outside of referring to an offshoot of the modernism in the visual arts and an American ‘school’ of composers. Read ten writers on the subject and you’ll get (at least) ten different explanations, unless they have a firm grasp of Marxian aesthetics in which case you’ll be more likely to get some consensus. I’ll assume that minimal means, by default, ‘not much happens’. Such are the taxonomical problems we all face in a world where new music falls prey to the corporate marketing and branding tactics. Don’t get me going on ‘drone’, ‘noise’ or ‘dark ambient’, some of which I’ve seen in relation to the music of Lutnahimat by the way.

The tracks are markedly different, which is interesting in itself, as many artists make great efforts to present a homogenous sound world across a given release.

The first track, Snow in Hadal Zone, (check the Wikipedia entry on this – very interesting) is an electronic work throughout, consisting of a pitched buzzing modulating texture, which comes in time to resemble a long stretched wah-wah pedal. Yet it’s not without subtlety in the carefully crafted slow changes. Trying to find words to describe this music, I’d be prodding around in the attitudinal zone of ‘dispassionate’ and ‘detached’. I might even use minimalist or even ‘dronal’, if I knew their meanings, so perhaps noncommital is better. The music is truly mysterious in the sense of not revealing it’s deeper meaning or essence. This means I didn’t understand it, which is a good thing, and I was left wondering what I thought of the piece, or even what it’s meaning was (which is pointless I know), all of which I enjoyed.

Track 2, Absence of Alternative Conditions, introduces voice, strings and, oddly, sirens. At times I was reminded of the work of Arvo Part (a ‘holy’ minimalist, of all things!). The acoustic instruments make their entrance: brass, woodwinds and prepared instruments. And yet again there’s something elusive about the work which struck me as a mark of originality, maybe something that would make me want to find out more, to listen to some more and to see what develops.

Senescence (getting old) gives us a taste of electric guitar with vocal samples, a cheery organ, bursts of radio-like static, altogether very convincing as a filmic dreamscape. And again something skillfully evasive, as if a piece of the picture or an actor in the play has gone missing.

Lutnahimat, then, would seem to be saying that he is currently developing work closer to Snow in Hadal Zone than the other two. If this kind of music is up your street then you’ll be looking forward to the next album, because he’s very good at it.

Me, I’m still no closer to understanding what minimalism actually is, but I’m on the case.

Next up – Early Summer by Wade Matthews

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