For anyone interest in the rudiments of electronic music, titles don’t come much more thrilling than Massive Oscillations, the name of the second album by Polish multi-instrumentalist Waclaw Zimpel. It is both a perfectly accurate depiction of the structure of the title track’s enormous, ever-shifting undercurrent of snarling, wild, grinding synth lines, and the guiding principle that runs throughout the record.
The album finds Zimpel, an arsenal of vintage electronics from oscillators to tape machines, a piano, his clarinet and a guitar operating in a many-layered excursion into the underexplored territory between the slow evolutions of minimalism, avant-garde jazz and intense electronics. The four tracks were recorded at Willem Tweestudio in Den Bosch, Netherlands over a period of nine days and then mixed by James Holden, a musician who knows more than a thing or two about fusing together jazz and electronics (see his deployment of Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic theory with fellow auteur Marcus Hamblett for evidence).
Both ‘Massive Oscillations’ and ‘Sine Tapes’ deploy a tension between wandering electronics and Zimpel’s clarinet, resulting in something that can – on one level – appear meditative and soothing but at other times presages a dirty, turbulent discordancy. The expressive reed playing could easily be allowed to dominate, but instead it threads noisily through the wavering, oscillating tones that dominate the foreground, only rising to the top when developed into thick, heavy blocks of drones, squeals and resonant melodies.
‘Release’ is perhaps the biggest departure from the sonic architecture used on the preceding three tracks, given that the electronics take something of a backseat, reduced to textural white noise, gentle shimmers and air cylinder hissing. Here we find Zimpel exploring territory not dissimilar to Terry Riley’s In C, repeated motifs for prepared piano, clarinet and guitar quietly developing over the course of its eight beatific minutes. The introduction of heavenly vocals provides the piece with an unexpectedly transcendent, dream-like quality.
Massive Oscillations by Waclaw Zimpel is released January 31 2020 by Ongehood.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2020 Further.