More noise, but distant: Andrea Borghi, Evan Lindorff-Ellery

Tuesday 23 May 2023

People keep finding sounds to play with. Andrea Borghi has made the eight pieces on his Palsecam EP by working with VHS tape recorders and their tapes. It reads like a gimmick or an ideas-piece relying less on sound and more on the concept of meta-commentary on dead media and obsolete technology, but it doesn’t play that way. Borghi eschews directness, preferring to use his given means as a technical limitation to guide his process at least as much as his own taste. He ekes out small, faded sounds with a dull electronic patina, keeping the scale of each piece small to concentrate the reduced palette of effects into something detailed but thin. The sounds are fleeting and elusive, refusing to let much stay around or assert its presence enough for your mind to get it in focus. It’s intriguing when you notice what’s going on, letting each moment pass by, although not intriguing enough to attract your attention in the first place, unless you’re tipped off to the gimmick.

The two pieces on Evan Lindorff-Ellery’s Swollen Air are titled Electric Guitar Feedback Field Recording iPhone Objects Contact Mic and Amp Hum Electromagnetic Feedback Field Recordings Contact Objects Mic Handling minimal edit, which gives some insight into the prosaic approach taken here. The two sides of this tape are all about documenting process, using intervening technology like phone recording to dirty up the sound as he coaxes something approaching music from obstinate and limited means. The listener shares in the artist’s process: side 1 ends with Lindorff-Ellery sitting in his hot, stuffy room blowing his nose after feeding bursts of static through his amps; side 2 finds him struggling to maintain momentum as his chosen method proves ultimately unrewarding. I salute his patience but would have appreciated him handling the situation with less equanimity. Perhaps in a live situation it would work better, as he’d have to juggle with the complicating factor of simultaneously holding audience expectations at bay.