Keith Fullerton Whitman

Editions Mego

 Utterly messy and proudly chaotic, “Occlusions” follows Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Editions Mego debut, “Generators,” by only a few mere months.  There are many similarities between the two full-lengths: each feature two side-long renditions of the same sounds used in radically different ways and both were captured live with a handheld Zoom recorder.  The style and approach are different, however, with “Generators” appearing extremely orderly and composed when compared to the rapid digital jump cuts and unpredictable synthesizer drop outs that define both sides of “Occlusions.”  The random, stream-of-consciousness explorations reveal something that would be close to mutated techno if any of the sounds that litter “Occlusions” could keep a consistent rhythm.  It’s still thoroughly engaging electronic music, but worlds away from the tone and style he debuted a decade ago on his seminal “Playthroughs” album.  - Ryan Potts

Eli Keszler / Keith Fullerton Whitman

(NNA Tapes)

 Experimental percussion master Eli Keszler teams with Keith Fullerton Whitman, wielding what sounds like a mammoth Modular Synth setup, for a split LP on NNA. At first this may seem like an odd pairing, but both musicians draw from the same musical language, albeit at different angles. The general focus is on flurries of staccato chaos — or controlled chaos — a swarm of synth, drum, and “Micro-Controller Metal Plates” that is balanced by the calm, understated eeriness of Keszler’s “Cymbal, Bass Drum, Clarinet” track. Whitman’s side is more relentless; a 17-minute freak out that, through its sheer dexterity, recalls minimal shredders like Orthrelm or cosmic free-jazz. Really, it’s just a fine display of the synthesizer’s capabilities when pushed to the edge by a savvy handler. The standout for me, though, is the brief “Drums, Crotales, Installed Motors, Micro-Controller Metal Plates,” which unifies a shrill metallic buzzing with precisely orchestrated drum clatter. That may sound like a contradiction, but the piece is deceptive like that. It drifts between the aforementioned staccato chaos and finely layered rhythms; just when you think it might lose control, Keszler dramatically pauses or plays a familiar rhythmic pattern, making clear the tension between composition and improvisation that pervades most of this record. – Keith Rankin, Experimedia

Ben Vida has been cooking up all manner of electronic fuckere over the last decade plus. Whether it’s been through his Bird Show project or other duos/trios/groups, Vida is a master of improvisation and composition. “Esstends-Esstends-Esstends” is a forward-thinking piece of visceral compositions. Intended as a device to engage the listener’s ‘sense of aural perception,’ Vida concocts uncompromising, microscopic vignettes that are as intricate as they are skull-piercing. Multiple layers buzz around each other, barely missing or utterly colliding, stretching the limits that your ears can handle. It’s an exquisite balancing act keeping track of each element as it glides (or crashes, as it were) in-and-out of focus. Like 2010’s Bird Show Band album (my previous favorite work of his), Vida is at his best when he’s assaulting boundaries and totally dialed in. “Esstends-Esstends-Esstends” is the best of both, presenting a singular focus that still keeps you guessing. Listen on headphones, listen on speakers, but whatever you do play it LOUD. - Brad Rose (of Digitalis) for Experimedia - Buy