Nils Quak hits his listeners with minimalist drone constructs based in granular and modular synthesis on his new release, Infinite Folds. Two of the three tracks were performed live, running 41 and 39 minutes respectively; the third is a four-minute intermission between the main attractions. The first and longest track, “Hamburg,” may test the patience of those who enjoy neither minimalism nor the micro-sound approach of granular synthesis. A good two-thirds of the track is a long, softly undulating, near-static wash of borderline white sound. It possesses a calming hiss, and the drones feel warm and innocuous, but it’s over 20 minutes before a noticeable shift in feel occurs. Quak eventually allows dirge-like chords to rise out of the mist, and toward the very end of the track, he flips the switch and plays with jerky, deteriorating electronic sounds. “Cologne,” the modular work, starts out in a sparse, experimental mode that also requires a patient listener. Quak takes his gear through several shifts of tone, from foggy drifts to a blaring monotone to rasping drones. It’s more of a challenge to stay with than “Hamburg,” and feels more like Quak is testing listening limits. Between these two pieces is “Simmern,” four minutes of quiet reflection that churns a little impatiently below the surface.
Infinite Folds comes off as a study in structural contrast, pairing soft against sharp, reflective against aggressive. Bring a ready-to-experiment mindset with you when you listen.
Available at Bandcamp.