October 11, 2011
Review: Sam Kidel – ‘String Loops’ EP
Sam Kidel – ‘String Loops’
A Future Without
Welcome to the crazy yet intriguing world of Sam Kidel. Occasionally working under the name El Kid, the Brighton resident is a true scientist of sound, and is affiliated with a number of different camps, most notably with A Future Without, the imprint that’s releasing this latest EP of sonic adventures.
A recent collaboration with A Future Without co-conspirator Vessel (for the Astro:Dynamics label) saw the two different approaches to production clash head-on in a demented collision of mangled beats and general insanity, and it seems to be no coincidence that the two will release individual EPs on the same day this month.
Kidel’s work as El Kid tends to swing (marginally) more to the dancier side of things, so it’s probably fitting that ‘String Loops’ is released under his own name. The EP dives headlong into the world of Musique Concrete (a form of composition using ‘found’ sounds and other non-musical sources to build compositional soundscapes), and focuses heavily on atmosphere, emphasising sonic layers over more conventional beat-led material. (One blogger describes Kidel as having “gone to town on texture” on this EP – definitely an apt description).
‘String Loops – Part 1’ sees long, distorted drones balanced on top of one another to form ethereal harmonies, before fading away into a minimalist guitar loop, which in turn gives way to what sounds like a collection of scratched piano strings. It’s all very intense stuff, definitely not for the faint of heart (or those looking to throw on some beats before heading out for the night).
The looped minimalism of Steve Reich is called to mind more than once on the EP, none more so than on ‘String Loops – Part 2’, in which an eerie atonal pattern is forged from more snatches of distorted sound. The loop twists and turns, filtering up and down the frequency scale before finally descending into a muddy puddle of bass and disappearing altogether.
‘String Loops – Part 3’ contains a searing – and comparatively melodic – guitar loop over more washes of white noise. Kidel is not afraid of experimenting with instrumentation. A recent post on his website shows the producer’s construction of a homemade instrument christened the “splank”, built from a plank of wood and a number of springs as a reaction to growing tired of having to use his laptop on stage. But it is this creative approach that gives Kidel’s music its inimitability, and, though it may not be to the taste of all, makes for intriguing listening.
Read this review in context over at HYPONIK