Boomkat Product Review:
‘Multivocal’ is Jessika Ekomane’s mesmerising debut album of uncanny psychoacoustic experiments in rhythm and spatial perception for the nonpareil Important label. A big RIYL Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Eleh .
In her pair of extended, closely-related works, the French-born, Berlin-based Ekomane generates steady pulses with one millisecond differences in tempo, beating together and gradually phase-shifting around each other in captivating permutations of pattern that eventually resolve in unison. Originally performed for quadrophonic installation and recorded live at Ars Electronica, 2018 in Austria for the sleeping event ‘Sonatas For Sleep/less’, the results of ‘Multivocal’ have been mixed to stereo and offer a potently disorienting experience as the mind and body attempt to follow and comprehend the effect of what’s happening on the record.
Rooted in ideas of gestalt psychology such as mulitstable perception - which is usually associated with visual stimuli, but also applies to auditory and olfactory senses - the piece necessarily works through its minimalist nature, as the two relatively simple sounds shift around to create myriad combinations which may sound too cluttered and distracting if they were any denser. This minimalism also allows for a degree of ambiguity which is also key to the work’s ideas, as Ekomane strives to de/focus the mind and body in its continual (and perhaps futile) attempts to anticipate and consolidate the straying patterns. Think of M.C. Escher’s eye-boggling artworks and you’ve got a good aesthetic corollary, as the preview clips will surely reveal.
But in the best sense this isn’t purely an academic exercise - Ekomane’s work is playfully stimulating and incisive in a way that reminds us strongly of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s rhythmically attuned beauties or the mesmerising purism of Eleh. We can only hope it’s the start of many equally intuitive, insightful, and brain-smushing works from this smart new artist.