Boomkat Product Review:
Mark Fell returns with an incredible album of rhythmelodic cadences performed with Drumming Grupo De Percussão on the Sixxen metallophone system: a set of six microtonally tuned instruments originally conceived by Iannis Xenakis in 1976.
The eight-part Intra stands out as one of Fell's most immediate and unusual releases; high in concept but also satisfying an obsession for complex polyrhythms as explored and developed by the likes of Beatrice Dillon, Don't DJ, and further out to augmented realities rendered by Kara-Lis Coverdale, Kassem Mosse and even Jlin.
Making use of a kind of conceptual future-primitivism, Fell probes the perceptive difference between ideas of simplicity and complexity by sending instructions to acoustic drummers via electronic triggers relayed through headphones, an idea he first explored on the Time and Space Shapes for Gamelan installation made in collaboration with Laurie Spiegel.
His ongoing interests in the classical Indian "Carnatic" music systems also play a big part here; its mathematical sound rules or Tala, have 35 possible combinations - many more than the usual Western structures of minor and major scales. It's this structure that imbues these recordings with such complex, propulsive and oddly pensive energies.
Concept aside, Intra is a beautiful piece of sound art which sidesteps convention and perceptions of music in a way that’s highly pleasurable, even strangely soothing in its stilted trickle of off kilter tones, revealing successive dimensions with each repeated listen.