ROTW: Guts Magnet Sea!

So, been a bit remiss with the Records Of The Week lately, but hey, here's one! Chik White's Guts Magnet Sea combines a bunch of things we like into something unique. Some of the sounds on this recent Kraak label cd release are environmental field recordings – and some are just what sounds like environmental field recordings, but are actually the environment affecting the recording medium.

Also, this features jaw harp! Gotta love jaw harp. OK, Makigami Koichi and Anton Bruhin's Electric Eel album on Tzadik from twenty years ago might be the only other crazy jaw harp release we can think of [edit: how could we forget Daniel Higgs' Magic Alphabet?], but that means there's always room for one more and that's this.

Many, many aQ reviews over the years, most often those written by Andee, have featured descriptions of music as sounding like the tapes had been soaked in tar and then left out in the desert, or buried in the earth and then excavated years later, concepts like that. Well, Nova Scotian experimental musician and accidental jaw harp collector Darcy Spidle, who records under the name Chik White for some reason, has literally done something just that in making Guts Magnet Sea, as explained by the label thusly:
"The main core was captured during walks to an islet close to Spidle’s home. He taped environmental sounds and himself playing the harp aloud. Then, the tapes were thrown into the ocean, becoming co-author for his micro-compositions. The salt disintegrated the magnetic tape and added burbling and grunting noises to the original recordings."
It sure did... Also, we like how they say the tapes were "thrown" into the ocean... not merely lowered or dipped or submerged, but thrown, as if there was a chance they might not come back to shore. Thankfully, though, they did.

Corroded and decayed by this process, the not-quite-human 'voice' of the jaw harp vibrates in a mysterious watery realm, the dozen tracks here sounding kind of like a very damaged, abstract version of one of Hans Reichel's daxophone operettas being played underwater. Gurgling gentle noisescapes for curious ears.

The disc includes an essay & interview with Spidle, getting into the arty/academic notions and conceptual dichotomies that this work may or may not illuminate. Personally, I'm not sure such musings are necessary, it's enough that this sounds as strange and wonderful as it does without thinking too hard about it, eh?