4.13.22 by Matty McPherson
The underlying ethos of Big Ears involves reveling in the practice of deep listening, its inherent serendipity and what springs forth. Thus, it was welcoming to return back home to find Brnjsmin’s Skin from Katuktu Collective waiting at home, itself the kind of release that would have fit in well between the ambient laptop sound bath and attica quartet. The four compositions found on this release are the work of Giovanni Raabe, a Munich-based soundscaper. The four pieces have a disarming naturalism, with strings, guitar, or drum machinery that move between the ornate to the embryonic. It’s a quick release of many sonic shades that are as concise as a haiku or a brevity as a rave. It always finds a unique way to shock.
At times we’re left with bird song or drifting electronics, quietly setting forth a soundscape. Yet, Raabe has a keen ear for his digital ephemera. Whether bird song or loops are a lucid sound bath lulling you in or an instrument manipulation can instill a novel change of its own accord. For the guitar on Mensch, it is the latter. Trotting along in a somber manner without much force, Raabe enacts it to muster on solely due to the manipulation, dazzling in this pre-ordained structure. It bows out softly, as Estrella slowly bubbles to life. The track is more in line with Raabe’s previous electronic experiments, yet the loops are a nifty introduction into the violin and viola that enters the frame. By halfway through the track, they’re guiding the piece full stop and I find myself right in the back of a church hearing these piercing strings. Airy and with a sense of itself displaced from time.
Side B opens in the drift of an octatrack, haptics and a deep bass invoking Skin’s lush trek through a strangely isolated place. There’s a tension though, between the processed birds sounds and isolated beats that quickly builds into a trancey almost-dance track; eventually a bonafide bass drop is in order and we’re a complete 180 from anywhere else but a 4:15 AM rave. As it fades off, Raabe yet again leaves us at a quiet low, away from the sounds of anything but pet sounds. Slowly, a guitar will enter and be almost swallowed by a sudden bass eating effect that will also, naturally conclude our state of affairs here.