non-dweller: Scrapes, scribbles, resonance

gabby fluke-mogul, Jacob Felix Heule, & Kanoko Nishi-Smithnon-dweller (Humbler, 2021)

Two sets of strings and a bass drum: The configuration could be purely percussive, but non-dweller is built more around bowing and scraping, an ongoing chatter. The first of two long-form improvisations on this album starts with a choppy, nervous bustle, like beach crabs in full sprint, and later settles into buzzing and rattling vibrations.

It’s sometimes hard to tell which instrument is making which sound. gabby fluke-mogel‘s violin often stands out easily, tending toward squeaking microtones and extra-musical sounds pulled from the strings. Kanoko Nishi-Smith bows the koto for deep-register rumbling or clicks away like a tightly wound rubber band. Jacob Felix Heule‘s bass drum isn’t about dramatic concussions; he creates resonance in high tones or deep swoops. Just as the strings can play percussively, the drum becomes something of a stringed instrument.

Almost like a drone, the sounds blend into a mesmerizing haze. Unlike a drone, this music wiggles and contorts — there is an undercurrent of activity organized into episodes, like the inner workings of a vast, multi-staged machine.

You can preview the album on Bandcamp.

For a glimpse of the processes involved, here’s a snippet of fluke-mogel and Nishi-Smith performing in 2018 at Temescal Arts Center, Oakland:

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