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Nerve Net Noise - Meteor Circuit

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Artist: Nerve Net Noise

Album: Meteor Circuit

Label: Intransitive

Review date: Jun. 13, 2002

Released in a limited edition of 500 copies, this album’s cover sports a very nice minimalistic design that well suits the recordings within. All of the sounds were created by homemade oscillators built by Hiroshi Kumakiri, layered onto each other to create sonic interactions. The original recordings were then edited by Tagomago, who also added some treatments.

Of the six tracks, 1-5 are named simply "#1" through "#5", while the final track is named "Long Mail to Boston" (where the label is located, so perhaps that's the reason). "#1" is a brief intro of crackling static interrupted by short siren-like wails of synthetic sound. It’s sort of ominous, as if something terrible is about to happen.

This leads into "#2", with its oddly rhythmic, vaguely flatulent belches of electronics. Over its six-minute length, it doesn't particularly develop, nor does it change tempo, so it inevitably fades into the background. "#3" begins with a repeated phrase: a handful of dull thumps end with a watery blip, there's a pause, and the phrase then repeats. Over six minutes, it doesn't seem to change much at all – or if it does, it's very hard to notice.

"#4" is more active, with blips and squelching sounds repeating quickly over and over. The loop changes slowly, speeding up and stumbling over itself from time to time, but is nonetheless relatively static. During its 9-minute length, I found myself losing concentration, then hearing it again and realizing that it was slightly different from before. At the very end the loop mutates and becomes a simple repeated tone, unfortunately sounding rather like a car alarm. "#5" opens with chirps and thin rumbles like an electronic bird searching for a mate. The sounds develop and change slowly over time, as with the other tracks here; the entirely artificial nature of the sounds soon makes it feel like some electronic alarm or machine gone haywire. This is the longest track, over 18 minutes, and hence by the end the sounds have mutated so that they're fairly different from the start of the piece, though still recognizably from the same original configuration. The final track, "Long Mail to Boston", apparently derives from a computer modem. It opens with a mid-frequency drone that breaks up just slightly every few moments. As the piece progresses, the sound encounters more interference, and gets doubled upon itself. Its solid, long drone makes it a slightly difficult listen.

While this album is an interesting experiment, I must hesitate to recommend it to anyone not intensely attracted to pure electronic exploration. I found it hard to listen all the way through, partly because of the nature of the sounds – they're honestly somewhat annoying due to the frequencies and purity of the tones – and partly because of the nearly-unchanging composition of the pieces. As background music at a low volume, the sounds didn't hold my concentration, and when I did pay closer attention, the blips seemed slightly irritating. At a higher volume in headphones, the focus of the pieces was more evident, but the crystalline sounds were very difficult to listen to for a long period. If you are interested in slowly-evolving oscillator experiments, though, this should be your fix.

By Mason Jones

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