“Product 02” reviewed by Fluid Sonic Fluctuations

I’m back rather early now with the next review in my Fluid Label Focus series on the Crónica label. This time I have for you an early release back from 2004 in the Product series on the label, titled Product 02 by Ran Slavin. This album in the format I’m reviewing features the 15 tracks (of which track 10 is a seperating silent track [Product Silence] on CD as well as an 8 page booklet featuring photography and artwork as well as two texts detailing the Product series concept, the sonic inspiration put into the music on this album by Ran Slavin and an appreciation by label owner Miguel Carvalhais. On the back of the jewelcase you can find the tracklist and album credits.

As described in the booklet the Product series’ concept is to take the “split” format of the vinyl LP format (two sides featuring the music of a full album) and translate this to the digital format by splitting up the tracklist of the CD into two “sides” (or mini compilations as its called in the text) which both form two seperate pieces of the album. The goal is that these two piece also work together to form one “Product” rather than a collection of seperate pieces forming the album. In the case of Ran Slavin’s Product release the two parts forming the album are titled Tropical Agent and Ears in Water. Tropical Agent starts with track 1 Dirty Needles. Dirty Needles features a glitchy sound in which various music samples, vinyl crackle and bit-crushed down pitched mechanical sounds are blended together to create an abstract kind of soundscape or ambience. Indeed Ran Slavin’s music on this album is the kind of music that is more like fading in and out of various sonic situations and environments rather than tracks featuring clear melodic patterns or progression. The lo-fi mechanical clanging sounds are the main focus in here for me , as the music samples and vinyl crackle scatter around in abstract manner, the Industrial clanging seems to be a clearer focus point than the melodic bits. A great track to start with, plenty of classic Glitch goodness in here. If You Should is a more subtle, mellow and quiet piece, featuring what sounds like a Middle Eastern string instrument, violin samples and filtered piano samples. Combined with the vinyl crackles and low mechanical sounds the music feels like the ambience of a quiet workshop of handcrafted products late at night as the owner and few employees continue carefully working on their handcrafted objects. Search For Compassion continues the vinyl / Glitch themed sonic signature but with a more drone based ambience. After several choppy vinyl sample manipulations at the start the piece moves forward as a contuous mellow fragmented drone that near the end gets accompanied by high pitched synth notes chiming into the fuzzy cloud of sound. Nice deepness in this one. U Think U Know Who U Are uses a resonator effect to create strong metallic droning percussive sounds. Pretty sharp sounds they are and the piece is a bit more simple in texture than the tracks before but it’s still got a pleasant feeling to it and the reverberated ambience at the end gives a nice conclusion to this track. Silent Siren however is a better track, the looping harp samples and shifting low pitched sounds add a kind of mystery in the music that feels pretty cinematic, like people waiting in the living room of their house for something special to happen. Indeed Ran Slavin is in fact an artists in various media, film, video art as well as experimental music, so it’s no wonder that his work carry abstracted imaginary storylines within them. The violin melody in the second half of the track is a great juxtaposition with the other sounds in the track that blends sonic images together like overlaying one scene with another on that’s half-dissolved. On Guitar String/Empty Streets aleatoric randomized guitar sample melodies float through an ambience of (indeed) streets in field recordings, the guitar string sounds are emphasized quite a lot which adds these mechanic sounds to the mixture. Mysterious eerie droning tones add a strange kind of “foreboding feeling” in an otherwise quite abstract sounding melodic ambience piece, sounds good. Triggers of Violence is one of the louder pieces on the album and features spiky sounding chopped up glitchy guitars and droning resonances in more recognizably melodic patterns (albeit still in one key only). It’s one of the more active pieces on the album, freely scattering glitches, recording noise and other artifact sounds around to create a mechanic structure of metallic sound, very nice. Desert Rain sounds quite like its title describes, it’s got “rainlike” vinyl crackle loops, that are quite rhythmic as well, sounding almost like percussion. Soft continous droning instrument samples (including guitar) are placed in a pretty deep big space, ghostly washes of sound float through the ambience too and the track has a nice hypnotic Middle Eastern vibe to it. Flat Tire at the Dead Sea features more kinetic glitching guitar patterns as well as quite a lot of cool stuttery sonic manipulations with all sample chops tumbling through the stereo sound field into wide delays as well. A fun piece of abstract music that also features some chops of what sounds like percussion too. Afterwards we have 30 seconds of [Product Silence] and we move to the second half of this Product album Ears in Water. The first track of which is Vista Plain, which is more intense than the tracks before, a wash of fuzzy hissy droning sound and vinyl crackles as well as guitar samples. The drone has rhythmic mechanic looping sound to it and there’s a lot of variation in the filtering as well as additional guitar samples in the piece which introduces the rather different sound of the Ears in Water part. Vista Plain is calm in its drone structure but sonically rather progressive with all the manipulation going on. Girl in Water features chopped and glitched vocals by Lin Chalozin Dovrat and sounds a bit more technical in its atmosphere, more futuristic with the choppy short glitch sequences, rather abstract tone sequences and granual style intense sound stretching. Great sound manipulations in here, nice piece. On Untitled #1 you can hear what sounds like little bass as well as a resonating sound, like coming from the inside of an electronic appliance as well as samples from a man’s voice. Strange but intriguing sonic experience this is, sounds very alien. Untitled #2 has a more synthetic sounds to it with more synths and technical glitches in it. Starting with quickly chopped samples, high synth effects, reversed bells and more elements situated mostly in the high end of the frequency spectrum the piece slowly moves into an organ like drone and synth percussion gets added as well. This second half becomes quite purely electronic, a nice piece with a different sonic siganture we have here. Great vibe. Final track Piano moves back a bit to the sound of earlier tracks, a fuzzy vinyl sound is within the piano samples though the whole is chopped up in a melodic progression in faster tempo than before. Quite an upbeat and pleasant short atmospheric ending piece to this album.

Product 02 by Ran Slavin is a quite varied album of cinematic and often abstract experimental ambiences and atmospheric melodic progressions. The two halfs of the album, in line with the concept of Crónica Product series give the approach to music a nice twist after the first half, enabling the listener to discover the relations between the sounds in the various tracks and the general abstract element of the music allows you to imagine situations and environments conjured up by it. A great listen for people looking for cinematic experimental music spread over various tracks as well fans of more melodic oriented glitch music and vinyl sample manipulations. Orlando Laman

via Fluid Sonic Fluctuations