AMN Reviews: John Wiese – Escaped Language (2017; Gilgongo Records)

John Wiese is a polymath of sorts: composer, musician, publisher, and graphic artist, among other things. On this EP-length single-track recording, released in September, Wiese experiments in musique concrete.

The first four minutes of Escaped Language offer synth drones, but then the electroacoustic elements enter and take hold. As with many albums of this rough genre, it is hard to determine the sources of the various sounds. Scraping metal, harsh walls of noise, distorted synth waves, fractured elements, and percussive samples combine to form a chaotic mix. There is no discernable melody, harmony, or rhythm – instead, the composition is of an architectural nature, with an array of building blocks combined to form twisted structures. But perhaps just as important is how Wiese distributes these sounds across the left and right channels. At any point in time, each has its own distinct set of elements, though some move and warp in between the channels. These pieces evolve into a crescendo that abruptly ends around the 19-minute mark.

Escaped Language was recorded live during Ina/GRM’s 2016 Présences Électronique Festival in Paris, and is a fitting addition to that institution’s oeuvre.

Note: Wiese will be performing tonight (November 18, 2017) in Chicago. Reservations are free.