TVE-Anormal et troublant: Album Review

TVE fits into the mysterious nature of Falt records quite well.  New as of 2016, the French cassette label runs without an official website, only pairing a relatively obscure twitter account with their minimalist bandcamp page.  After coming to my attention in a late night browse through some music blogs, I was struck by the textural brilliance of Chemiefaserwerk’s Collagen, the first release from the label.  TVE takes things in a different direction with the barren wastelands of Anormal et troublant.  “Nothingness and collective decay” reads TVE’s original, solo bandcamp page and the elusive character lists “sounds made by tape machines recording and/or playing back recorded material,” “(un-)finished field-recordings,” and “rare sounds that are normally erased from a finished product” as components of the short work.  The tape finds beauty in anticipation, constantly shifting between various shades of white noise with tidbits of texture coming into play at unpredictable intervals.

Anormal operates in different levels of silence.  Upon beginning each piece, there’s a certain presence that enters the room, yet it still feels as if nothings there.  As time passes by a glimpse of fuzz comes into play, then another obscure stroke of the pen, before the listener is thrust back to sterile blankness.  Then—again—all of the air is sucked out of the room and it feels as if the track has reached a new level of absence. “#2” obtains a feeling of motion with a windy, static sound contrasting the pockets of white noise in the first track.  Third, comes the most drastic track on the record.  Rather than adding textural ploys atop a foundation of white noise, TVE rapidly jumps from tiny melodic ideas to swaths of complete silence, an occasional crack or pop pushing the momentum forward.  The tape then ends with “#4,” which wraps things up with what might be the steadiest stream of action of any track on the tape.

TVE has a clear knack for playing with the listener, a vital skill for any operation in minimalism.  There’s not a thread of repetition on the album, rather an aura that continuously pressures the listener to engage and prepare for the next surprise.  Also, in dealing with white noise, TVE has the ability to increase volume without the listener completely realizing, leaving opportunities to rip the rug from under them.  In the more open spaces, TVE finds a balance of making the listener wait for the next strand of activity as well as finding areas of consistency that give a touch of momentum.

As a product of the minimalism, however, the work is wholly a bit monochromatic.  The melodic activity—despite being well timed and intriguing—all falls under the same general sonic category and the dependency on white noise as a foundation is extremely limiting.  It would be nice to hear a bit more contrast and sonic variety on the next project.  Considering the length, the project does not grow completely stale, but a full length project might require more growth.

-Donovan Burtan



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