Prospero: Between Spinning Nothing

prospero_betweenProspero is yet another musical mask donned by prolific sound artist JC Mendizabal (Kyron, Radio Free Clear Light, Projective Module–all of which have been ). I find it interesting that Mendizabal calls the work here “ambient experimental electronic”–which it certainly is–but doesn’t mention that much of it is also infused with an edge of jazz. As ever with this artist, what we get here is a perfectly orchestrated mix of sounds small,medium and large, from cast-off found bits and vocal drops to mutated gurglings culled from deep within the electronics. Beats come and go at seemingly just the right times, and the sonic scenery, in constant motion, is laid out before us with depth and dimension. I’ve always found Mendizabal’s stuff to be straight-up hypnotic, and that holds true in many of the tracks here. “There Was This Woman” builds its way from a quiet batch of sounds driven by a clubby thump into recursive curls and swirls in heavy layers. A vocal sample gets torn and twisted over and over, a cool drill bit boring gently into your head. The titles track works with simple repetition, also nicely layered, its warbling tones soothing and a little intoxicating. The jazz tint shines on “And Then She Sailed Through the Caves,” coasting along on a Fender Rhodes vibe straight out the 70s. (Check in with your Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea references.) A laughing string-like phrase repeats as an accent. On “Flying People” an intimate trio of drum, bass and keys holds steady in the middle of a swirl of electronic scribbles and some form of mutated chant. The juxtaposition is superb, with the unwavering rhythm section laying down its toe-tapping groove as the electronics swoop and dive around you. The detail that comes from small sound is important to Mendizabal, and his attention to it plays out in tracks like “Excreta” and its followup, “In the Home of Electronic Dust.” Tiny crackles and clicks whisper in your ears, forming beats and textures as they do. The tracks here are quick, with 16 jammed into an hour, and the transitions between them happen fast. It can be a little jarring in spots, but never problematically so. It’s like watching slides. You’re taking one in and schwa-wup, you’re on to the next one with the last still registering. It’s a great blend of styles, beautifully handled, and you have to listen to this up close. There’s so very much going on. Another great outing from Mendizabal.

Available from Black Note Music.

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