Available on: Type LP
Ezekiel Honig is a musician of outstanding reach possessing both technical and theoretical scope. His previous record, Surfaces Of A Broken Marching Band, was about nature. Indeed, many of his records are about nature. Folding In On Itself marks a cute shift being just as much about the human psyche and consciousness as it is anthropology and the city. Honig’s records create twilight worlds, he collages different facets of our lives and presents them as one geographically reconstructed reality, resulting in the most beautiful of amalgamated soundscapes, each recording constructing a new sonic space.
The album’s opening track, ‘Material Wrinkle’, allows the sound to slip in and out of realities: there’s the voyeurism (for want of a better word) of hearing light, metallic objects being moved; truncated television loops entering and leaving the soundscape; drones of city life augmented to sweet fantasy, then deconstructed by the internal techno pulses. Following track ‘Subverting The Memory Of Your Surrounding’ illustrates just as much in the title whilst extending to the aesthetic with a heartbeat pulse driving the track. With this compartmental approach Honig explicitly illustrates how he has established contrasting forms to capture humans as sensorial agents from the perspectives of the subjective, the physical and surrounding objects.
Typically each track here takes on three aesthetic styles: there’s the environmental sounds, usually marked with cavernous echoes and muffled white noise; there’s the rich “musical” textures which carry a tangible tone of loving digital polish; and the comet tail sustains which remember headaches as much as meditative states.
Through collage the “found sounds” form a new reality with Honig engaging in deep artistic and artisanal practices. With all layers tending towards warm sound, Folding In On Itself makes for seductive listening. Honig clearly signposts these layers, and as well as working in contrast with each other it’s the more mastered, laboured effects that supply the record’s core structure with the low-fidelity recordings providing novelty (ghostly, at a push).
Strangely, and akin to Susan Hiller’s anthropological curation piece, Dedicated To The Unknown Artists 1972 – 76, Honig declines from taking on any characterised narrative; the music never employs a protagonist. Hiller’s piece (an assortment of postcards featuring rough seas battering coastal tourist towns of Britain), comparatively, doesn’t engage in the representations of humans within the work. Equally Honig prefers to leave the anthropology central to the work, so any human life captured within it is as much about the recording as it is the subject. What results is that we hear an impression of a macro reality through the recordings from habitual individuals – depriving us of a protagonist.
The nearest we come to one is on stand-out track ‘Between Bridges’ which contains vocals so chopped (recalling fellow Type artist Sylvain Chauveau’s ‘Composition 8’) that they compliment the rhythm above the melody. Additionally, giving the record some investigative thought there are a couple of things we learn about the character(s): they watch TV, they play squash, they take the train and live in an urbane area – half-baked and banal at best. The lack of denizen to hold your hand as the record propels you blindfolded across Metro lines and busy streets, through workhouses and sports courts makes for a bewildering, and solitary, listen.
Folding In On Itself may not be a particularly lucid piece. It becomes difficult to realise the proposed landscape as recordings from NYC are cut against others from Poland and Italy, leaving the record to exist between skies to much of its detriment. Sonically the album is consistent in tone and pace with an intoxicating lushness throughout: the heady hypnosis, the robust piano tones and the romantic recordings of NYC L-trains. To reject the record for being flawed on an analytical level, or to highlight its superficiality would be ridiculous as both of these features add to the wild and unqualified synthetic wonderland which Honig realises so brilliantly.