I am going to have to assume that I am not in Mark Tamea’s target audience. His “electroacoustical experiments,” something of a mix of musique concrete and plunderphonics, have their moments but overall I get the impression that I am meant to stand back and observe the music rather than being involved in it. And then there’s that sense that I just don’t get it. Never comfortable with that. The sound-set in play is diverse, from clattering electronics to patient strings to manipulated field recordings. Tamea brings them together in what seem to be, and surely must be, deliberate motions, but the tendency to abruptly switch from one thought to the next, to create a hard juxtaposition to make a point, makes it difficult to stay with. That being said, the patient construction of “Niuafo’ou Soujourn,” where Tamea strikes hard chords and rides out the resonance, is excellent–perhaps because it doesn’t overplay its disparity. “Kitsunetsuki” catches my ear by feeling like the soundtrack for a butoh performance, dark yet rhythmic, shot through with bursts of frenetic movement and then lapsing into quiet.
Atomism is a challenging listen, and will only appeal to those whose tastes run deeply into the experimental. In listening to it, I can get the sense of Tamea’s compositional mindset and I like the depth of sound sources, but the execution doesn’t sit with me. I keep asking myself what I’m supposed to get from it, and I can’t answer it, personally. However, it’s a reasonably short release, just 44 minutes in all, and if you’re looking for a change of musical pace, I’d say it’s worth checking out to see if it works for you.
Available from Bandcamp.