John Collins McCormick: Ad for Nails LP (Gilgongo, 2019)

March 6, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

John Collins McCormick: Ad for Nails

The artist once known as Sky Thing presents two sidelong compositions consisting of found sounds and music performed using non-musical objects. I’ve seen him perform twice, and the first time it was during an outdoor event, and he was so quiet and so far away from me that I didn’t even know he was playing until after the performance had ended. The other time it felt like more of a live sculpture or art-making session than a concert, the audio definitely seemed secondary. This album begins with a chaotic, blown-out drum solo, then there’s a long stretch where it sounds like motors running or oscillators humming. It’s hard to tell if these are just normal items he’s found that he’s operating, or special machines or devices that he’s built or re-assembled, and listening to it makes you question what difference it makes if it was either, because it’s the sound itself that matters. And eventually some more free jazz-like drumming re-emerges, and some thin but persistent electronic tones seep through. It gets near silent for a moment before more fractured drumming occurs, and there’s a low rumbling behind it. Then there’s some low reed hissing and fluttering, even sounding like a didgeridoo at one point. The second side seems a bit more scattered, with sounds that may be clanking keys and failing car motors, lots of conversational recordings, and also a few unpredictable bursts of some basement noise eruptions. More so than the first side, this one sounds like different perspectives of environments crashing into each other, reflecting several ways in which we hear sound and perceive our surroundings.

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