Ten Thousand Things’
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
Now this takes a little getting used to but, like most great things, can bring surprising benefits. It isn’t easy, but then why on Earth should it be? It is on the fringes of experimental music, but doesn’t have a twittery New Age faux senility, and it’s doesn’t go near the angst of the dank Cold Meat Industries hard ambient ear-killing fields. It’s different, and put together by André Custodio who obligingly describes himself as ‘Sound Designer - Composer - Dunce’. It’s not pretty, but you’d need to redefine things to call it ugly, because the only rules which apply here are your own. Can you take it, and having done so, use it?
If I say track 1 sounds like a troll threatening some Tibetan horn player, that hardly helps, but track 2 allows a slowly encroaching mood to gather in your room, making noises that sound as though they’re outside. It makes an impression, and causes unease initially, reminding me of when you wake troubled from what could hardly be called lucid dreams - you’re semi-conscious but drifting and thoughts circle. That’s what this is like – it vaguely fits, has form, and fills the room rather subversively. On a musical level it’s more of a whirring noise, and a machinery rhythm but divorced from Industrial experiments in this line. These are subtle creations. Not ghosts in the machine so much as ghosts of the machine. Sitting here at the pc with the speakers behind me it’s as though there’s a portal opening behind me that I’m deliberately ignoring.
Despite being rudimentary and supposedly empty, none of these are actually quiet. It’s close to ambient washes but in a diseased way, like standing beneath power cables when the air hums. He’s got a few things happening in very thin layers, making strange music, creepy rustling, often with an ominous build in the sound before the fog closes in again
Occasionally there’s audible noise at the periphery but far from atonal, like Gregorian chanting but from a distance - monastic mumbling? - feeling very desolate and disturbed. And sometimes it’s mad. I haven’t bothered giving titles to these pieces because track 1 is ‘I’, then track 2 is ‘V’, which then runs consecutively until the closing track 8 which is ‘XI’ but ‘VIII’ 5 has mischievously curly sounds, from curlews perhaps (here’s hoping), but reminding me of old science films (crossed with Clangers, which may not mean much outside of the UK!), where two sound waves are seen bending on a tiny screen and the helpful professor turns up the volume and you hear the pitch change. It’s almost, unintentionally, aboriginal, but then slips back to the tones, the curlews, the late night lakeside nightmares.
Once it offers garbled, mood music with vibrations gathering mournfully around pretty, listless keyboard notes but also – weirdly – lots of virtual nothingness going on for a while which leaves you in suspense wondering what the hell is happening and, more ominously, coming? You get used to melodramatic lowing, with crackles and an abrupt end or disembodied voices sweeping by, otherworldly an closest to a full blooded thing, but still a thing.
I wouldn’t have thought I’d be playing this more than any of the other CDs I have stacked around me, but it’s a fascinating record, being perfectly fitting background while working or reading horror, but also bringing in a peaceful mood, and André himself says his semi-improvised electroacoustic stuff creates ‘meditative spaces with occasional excursions into the realms of noise’ It doesn’t make you stop, slightly, even if it can’t make you think.
I bet he looks normal, but bites if approached.