Vertonen – Territories Et Terrains Parts 1 – 4

7.1.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

We find Vertonen (takes deep breath) keeping an audio diary of loosely edited Covid commutes paired with snatches of occluded synthesis that surrenders to a series of sublime droning tonalities conjuring up phantoms of Xenakis’ tape works, dancing in the fading light of late afternoon. Brief domestic moments juxtapose with snippets of rhythmic industrial noise before quickly fading into a distorted surrealist hiss with disembodied vocals. Other moments are slow and tonal as physical objects are manipulated into mesmerizing non-patterns of indeterminate electronic pulsations.       

There’s gentle and hauntingly brittle points on “Opense” that remind me of dusted photographs in forgotten garages all over the world. Reality becoming just a memory of past events. Frozen time. Freezing moments of the daily commute. Hacking up experienced time and motion, letting certain passages stretch out into entire songs and other moments as brief interruption in the listened experience of another moment of events in time. Signals being slowly decayed, stripped of fidelity and volume. More disembodied voices leading you through the empty airport. The intercom produces a high pitched hum that seems out of place, but you are straining to hear what the voices are talking about. 

There are a variety of moods on these four tapes, as two separate releases, I’m talking about both as a single album, a whole new period of Vertonen sound is here and a lovely, lonely world it is… Sounds inside of a mineshaft. A hollow echo repeating itself until it dies out slowly. 

“Four Paths Parting” holds the listeners ear up to gentle movements of water for an extended period, events unfolding without added effect or edit. Leaves begin to blow into the river/stream, wind interacts with current, and a hollow sound resides at the center of it all. “And Consequence” takes nocturnal field recordings of insect life and juxtaposes it against barely perceived record manipulations and pitch shifted tonalities that slowly morph into thin hazy textures.

Other pieces like “Uprooting Assembly” finds a mixture of hollow earth drone and domestic shuffling tangling with more subtle stylus manipulation. The quiet tension that occupies space here is fragile and relatively unadorned.  Sounds breathe freely, commuting spaces explored in detail, and lines are blurred between chance events and planned object deconstructions.

“White Shell Sky” might be my favorite recent drone piece, curved arcing tonal rays firing tracers into the looping center of a tone arm riff dissolving into muted territory towards the end of the song. There’s enough dirt and hiss here to keep it from being overly polished and utopic in overall atmosphere. The mixture of synthesis and field recordings in this one really gets me. 

Pedestrian walking sounds, fabric against the microphone, lots of sounds outside as well as in tunnels, 

Definitely material that will have to be reissued at some point. Four cassettes with muslin pouches with prints on each set. Edition of 26 from Ballast.