Boomkat Product Review:
Substantial stuff for deep listeners; Belgium’s Mich L of Paper Hats and AB Salon debuts a mesmerising, intently focussed conception of Eleh or Radigue-like microtonal drone minimalism on the label behind releases from Ann Eysermans, Gen P-O & Hafler Trio, Fredrik Croene
Made on an EMS Synthi A, and directly inspired by Pauline Oliveros’ concept of listening, outlined as “the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening”, the first solo record by Mich L introduces a keen set of ears that have previously worked with Tetuzi Akiyama & Giovanni Di Domenico, and for Stroom on Holsen & Cassier’s ambient improvs. The three works on ‘air near silence’ are enamoured by the beauty found in hidden frequencies and harmonics of modular synths and old tape recorders, and prize their unusual fidelities in patiently unfolding, increasingly durational parts that exert their effect with a stealthy traction that builds from near nothingness to a powerful yet somehow fragile presence.
Interestingly the project was also shaped by the artist’s experience of tinnitus and enduring nausea, and arguably has a strong efficacy in muting, or at least even complementing the unwanted sounds perceived by its sufferers. With the tact and vision of the greats of drone music, from Radigue and Niblock to Drumm and Eleh, he presents a careful constructed procession from the meditative (but not cheesy) layering of rich, rolling bass waves and sustained upper register trajectory on ’S.L.’, thru to the genuinely skin-quivering sensuality and unfathomable enigma of ‘A.M.’, and, ultimately, 20 minutes of poised stasis and pulsing partials in ‘M.R.’ bound to snag attention of those who know what we’re banging on about. Given time and space to absorb properly, this is a real one.