-Emerge- Steps (CD Attenuation Circuit)
Albums of field recordings present us with sounds that are familiar. They ground the music in reality. A place where music doesn’t usually bother to exist. Pop, rock, hip-hop, etc, etc, may be set in the real world, but their music rarely lives there. Footsteps on concrete. Doors opening. Birds. The Wind. These are things we all know and recognise. Through layering, however, -EMERGE- has created something singular that has the power to repulse as much as it does entertain. Much of the album’s charm is down to your engagement. If you press play on this album and go about your day not really thinking about it then ‘Steps’ has a somewhat droney field recording vibe, but if you read a bit about the creation of the album, where it was recorded then it takes on a totally different meaning.
In a way it is pointless to try and describe what happens during each track. They don’t work that way. There are no real melodies to initially grab on it. No vocal hooks that explain what -EMERGE- is trying to express. Instead we are presented with three longform 10-22-minute-long pieces that contain droney atmospherics, echoey footsteps, the sounds of nature, church bells and mumbled voices. At times it feels like the sound design for an open world computer game set in a cavernous underground facility. The tracks have a haunting vibe to them, but -EMERGE- never dwells long enough on something for us to get an actual handle on what the original source recording was. Instead they are layered to create a lurid soundscape from another, slightly broody, place.
The haunting nature comes down to where the album was originally recorded. Recording an album like this at Dachau gives it a double edge sword. On one hand these recordings could have been made anywhere, in all fairness, and manipulated in a way to create similar results, but knowing that when we hear the sounds of feet moving/shuffling about they were recorded in a concentration camp gives them another, possibly, deeper meaning. This is ingrained in our psyche. We’ve all seen the footage of malnourished prisoners shuffling about. When hearing noises that tap into this ‘Steps’ really comes into its own. ‘Steps’ isn’t a time capsule. It isn’t a realistic, or authentic, picture of Dachau, but it does offer us another insight to it. NR