Cassette HMS 034
At first, I was worried that there was something wrong with Grant Evans‘ Brittle tape. I haven’t yet expected such mellow, calm, and atmospheric music in a Helen Scarsdale Agency release, but then I listened and listened again, and my perception of the imprint did eventually change quite a lot. The deeper I got into Evans’ sound, the more I became convinced that this calmness was actually quite deceiving. The initial idea of subtlety grew into a mesmerizing sense of oppression. Various sonic details are not accessibly placed in Evans’ soundscapes—they are literally hidden. Side A holds the low-key ambient piece ‘Pills in the Reptile House’. Its massive bass rumbles, which undergo many slow transformations are the fine tuning your brain needs to fully comprehend this minimalist and heavy album. At one point you’ll realize that you’re not actually so certain if these changes actually do happen. Everything is so minor and slow that you actually do start seeing and imagining certain sound movements. The massive bass hosts floating sounds that originate from barely recognizable sources, yet you can still hear environmental and organic sounds flirting with metallic noises and textures. On Side B, ‘Lineage’ gives the initial impression that one is likely to be in for a harsher journey, especially immediately after its beginning. However, the mids surface and lead the parade, giving a slightly transparent and lively feel to an album that is otherwise fairly heavy, even if it’s ultimately more atmospheric in nature. Generally, and as can be derived from its title alone, Brittle sounds small and compact, and moves at a slow, careful pace. This, however, is also why Brittle is capable of opening vast worlds to its audience. Through an extreme form of ambient and noise minimalism, one’s imagination will be challenged to discover and build images itself. Evans is certainly not on a mission to force-feed you his own vision and concept for the album. Instead, being an artist in full control of his tools, he’s decided to go for a far more figurative soundscape structuring that lets his listeners feel however they want about the music they’ve experienced here. -- Angel S.