Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ophibre - Drone Works for Differing Digital Audio Formats and Encoding Methods (Sentient Recognition Archive CD-R)

And another from Brainwashed. More on the way from Ophibre soon!

Presenting a whopping 24 tracks in just over 45 minutes, this album is exactly what it says it is: a series of drone works the titles of which indicate the digital works' file type, size, bitrate and other pieces of information. If this sounds like a disjointed mess however—and you couldn't be blamed if the quantity and brevity of the material suggested as much—don't be fooled. This is an extended work whose whole is simply attained through the slight differences afforded by so many partitions.

If anything, the suggested chaos of the number of tracks is quelled by Ophibre's distinctly placid sound. The moniker of Benjamin Rossignol, the project represents a study in the subtlest shifting of sound planes. Where much contemporary drone busies itself with overdone dramatics, Rossignol's works often end as they begin as he starts with a set number of sounds and allows them to interact as they will.

In this context, the results far outweigh the specific differences indicated by the track titles. With every track here lasting at or just under two minutes, it seems as though the work was first conceived of as a whole and then, perhaps, broken down and reformatted. While the differences between them seem negligible at first, they do have a way of causing just enough change so as to give the still nature of the work some shape. Thus the work evolves as more of an experiment than a statement, keeping the outcome unforeseen and subtly mobile as the third through sixth tracks drop their sample rates from 128 KBPS gradually down to 32 KBPS. The entire texture changes with it.

The step-wise subtlety of the changes here go hand in hand with the number of tracks then, as each section flows into the next and pushes it along with patient shifts of detail. This approach is markedly more thoughtful and, dare I say, academic than a lot of this type of work, yet it reveals little of the sterility that such approaches often yield. Instead the process behind the work, however intriguing it may be, takes a back seat to the inescapable beauty of the piece itself. Starting as a nearly ambient work, the whole thing slowly dissolves and restructures itself again and again as it goes through its variations, allowing differing portions to themselves as the work progresses.

Essentially what results is a nearly ambient piece, but one whose varying degrees of sample quality create grit that maintain the continuity of the whole through the common source material. When the last track arrives, it is the same exact format of the first one, and its high bitrate and clarity round off a disc whose travels are deeply inward. It is a direction drone could look more often.


Justin Snow said...

I absolutely love this album. I feel like I keep saying this with every new Ophibre piece I hear, but this is one of my favorites of his. I love how it takes such a simple idea and makes such beautiful work out of it.

Albany Sonic Arts Collective said...

can't wait to hear this one. nice review. Ben is definitely ruling these days.