Arbiter – Negatively-Existent Cell MC Fieldwork 2014
With scant information available on this apparently new project this cassette appears to be Arbiter’s debut release. Although I am uncertain of the country of origin, if I were to hazard a guess I might suggest that Arbiter are an American project but which is heavily influenced by a Northern European ‘industrial noise’ and an analogue experimental ‘tape manipulation’ sound. Noting that the cassette format does the grit and intensity of this material suitable justice, with its short length (approximately 15 minutes) this could have equally been suited to another analogue medium – the 7” vinyl (…but with that said Fieldwork have to date been staunchly focused on cassette only releases).
Although ‘Negatively-Existent Cell’ does contain sound elements which push towards nosier realms the overarching tone is one of stalking & controlled industrial noise abstraction. Thus calling this experimental industrial or even ‘post-mortem’ is relevant with each descriptor doing this adequate justice. Also not that I like to generally quote slabs of press releases, I do feel the succinct two sentence promo statement is exactly on the mark, and I quote: “Two tracks of freezing paranoiac industrial. Rich layers of analogue synthesis and mechanical decreptitude”.
The first track ‘Lead Laden Assemblage’ by fact of its title already begins to paint a ‘mind’s eye’ picture of the sound on display. Here analogue muted industrial to droning noise characterises the opening passage to generate a thick tone and laborious atmosphere. Things then get more complex with some understated microscopic metallic ‘contact microphone’ recorded textures (i.e. think a large metal canister being slowly warped and crushed), whilst the wavering/ oscillating abstract factory clamour becomes slightly more forceful and rabid. The second piece ‘Shattered Abstractions’ is slightly more loose in construction, having a more distant and cavernous atmosphere, but gradually elevates itself into more overblown and cacophonous territory consisting of shuddering blocks of sound, where morose oscillating drones are then used to tie together the overall atmosphere to achieve a broodingly excellent track.
Fieldwork may not be the biggest or the most prolific of labels, but they are doing an excellent job in building an underground industrial noise focused micro cassette label with a striking visual aesthetic. Arbiter are an excellent addition to the roster, where this is a strong and convincing debut recording.