Boomkat Product Review:
Eyeball-dilating rhythmic complications and synapse-popping sound design on this heavily-spiced fresh set from Portuguese oddball Ondness (aka Serpente), following 2019's brilliant "Meio Que Sumiu". Somewhere between Niagara, Rashad Becker, Nazar and Speaker Music.
Bruno Silva hasn't exactly been quiet since his last Ondness album. In the time since "Meio Que Sumiu" appeared, Silva has released a slew of beat-driven albums under the Serpente moniker, including last year's Alien Jams tape "Irmãs" and the Ecstatic-released "Fé/Vazio" from 2020. Back operating as Ondness, Silva sounds as if he's been freed from structure, and sets a wrecking ball to rattling drum machine rolls on 'Torre Revival', melting percussion into nauseous foley clangs and drowning hard-cut breaks under fire alarm oscillators. It sounds like a Portuguese answer to DeForrest Brown Jr.'s literate rhythm experiments as Speaker Music, all dense, jerky motion and confident early electronic references.
The record begins to veer further from the rails on 'Siga Morrer Menos', diverting dry, boxed-in drum sounds into cosmic thickets of fuzz'd synth and eardrum-scraping resonant noise. It's a disorienting mix, sounding unsettlingly empty and rhythmically complex while slowly fading in an ambient sense of sadness. On 'Ou Safar', Silva takes jackhammer drums and places them alongside new age synthetics, forming a swaying mix of textures that play against each other - the winding tense pop from the drums falling in-and-out of time creates a willfully psychedelic tension with Silva's woozy digital synths. Behind the abstraction, there's a crumbling skeleton of dance music forms, from Afro Portugese club music to Shanghai IDM, but Silva disrupts each sound so confidently there's little functionality left.
In his hands, rhythm is another color of paint on the canvas, and is used with complete disregard for gridding. It's actually fascinating to hear him work, throwing distorted malfunctioning electronic fizzes and pops over pitch-fucked kick sounds and hotwired hi-hats, accompanying everything with the kind of lysergic synth bleats that made Warp's early Artificial Intelligence era so affecting. Like Atte Elias Kantonen's genius "POP 6 SUSURRUS" album from a few weeks ago, "Megadawn" attempts to use contemporary technology to reshape the way we hear electronic music. It's heady but completely invigorating material.