Pterygium – Grip MC Algebra of Need 2017
Pterygium are an Australia based solo project of Hank Gillett who recently had an excellent contribution on the Tesco Organisation Projekt Neue Ordnung II 4xLP boxset. Noting also that I have previously reviewed Pterygium’s debut tape The Revival Of Unwritten Laws (reviewed here), while it was an interesting in concept and stylistic execution, at the same time was not a release that I returned to for multiple listens. However with Grips substantially differing in sound and approach to the debut, it has resulted in a tape that has been on high rotation for the last month or more.
In an attempt to categorise the sounds on Grips a general descriptor of ‘dark ambient meets industrial noise’ might be a good tag to apply given its multi-layering and dual focus of the majority of compositions. Effectively the tracks are doubled-edged where maudlin elements mix with the abrasive; and the minimalistic yet melodic tones blend with sharper distortion squalls. A comparison to other artists like Ke/Hil or Damian Dubrovnic is then highlighted, but not so much for sounding anything like either, rather Grips is similar by virtue of its cold, clinical and controlled approach, and where layers and loops are added and sub-tracked with clear compositions focus and intent.
The Male Antipathy leads off the 6 compositions with deep grinding drones, mid toned synths, yet the rising layered washes of static push the piece into headier territory. Facult of Rapture then follows a similar trajectory, yet the distortion of this piece if heaver and more invasive. Playing with sonic depth and sparse composition A Child Council is an excellent example of sonic restraint to generate is maudlin atmosphere (…although the sharper static briefly makes an appearance late track). In the later part of the tape fractured minimalist rhythms, morse code blips and floating synths form the backbone on Quitting Towards a Solid Surface, while Drainout Extort is perhaps a standout for its sparse and meandering dour cinematic/ sc-fi type mood.
On Grips Pterygium have opted for an instrumental approach which is considered, refined and delivered with clear artistic intent, which is in clear contrast to some current current strains of underground post-industrial music which churns pure filth and nastiness. With its 6 tracks spanning a mere 34 minutes, the play time is short and leaving me wanting more (…much more in fact), but this is a far better position to be in rather than dealing with a release which simply drags for being overly long. Don’t let the obscurity of the project or label deter you, this is high caliber stuff.