Boomkat Product Review:
Finally compiled on CD, Mark Fell & Will Guthrie’s Infoldings / Diffractions is an inspirational, almost 80 minute long study in four parts, informed by Gamelan and South Indian Carnatic musics. Essential listening if you’re into Autechre, Michael Ranta, The Necks, Milford Graves.
Infoldings / Diffractions combines synthesis and acoustic percussion in unpredictable, pointillist arrangements where Guthrie plays against patterns derived from Max MSP patches by Fell. The album’s four longform expositions are in this sense different to the man-machine concept of Fell’s acclaimed ‘Intra’ album, where he triggered performances by Portugal’s Drumming Grupo De Percussão to play a metallophone designed by Iannis Xenakis. Here, the pair find common and sometimes contrasting purpose in a probing of rhythmic signatures, with groundbreaking results.
Recorded at HFG, Karlsruhe (where Fell is guest professor), and finished later in respective isolation, the pieces were edited from iterations of call-and-response between Fell’s rhythmic patterns and Guthrie’s overdubs. They effectively propose beguiling solutions to electronic music’s problems with grid-lock, using generative processing to make physical actions seem unfeasibly effortless, while melting the computer’s clock to a real-time, free-hand syncopation.
Taking the influence of gamelan and fusing it with the fractal computer music that Fell has obsessively picked-at over the last four decades, the duo zoom into a sound that’s completely captivating; mutating into polyrhythmic outer-realms and eerie universes of microtonality that are hard to fathom in a single sitting.
There are trace echoes of free jazz hanging from the rafters, the post-everything chatter of Humcrush and Food drummer Thomas Strønen’s mind-expanding solo material or even Autechre at their most confounding. The genius here is that just as you convince yourself that the music could only possibly have been generated by a computer, Guthrie’s unmistakably human flex edges into focus - playing with perception and expectation in the most wild, liquid way imaginable.