Seven Ark :: Noise Of The New (Neo Ouija, CD/LP)

993 image 1(04.13.05) Neo Ouija continues to push new artists work as it hosts yet another debut album, this time from South Africa’s Justin de Nobrega, known as Seven Ark. Noise Of The New is one of those releases that slowly seeps into the subconscious: its charms may not be immediately obvious but they multiply with each successive listen. Yes, this album is most emphatically “a grower,” one not to be casually dismissed or cursorily listened to.

It’s extremely lazy to simply name-check existing artists as a descriptor of an album but in the case of Noise of the New the influence of some the greats – notably Autechre and Arovane – are unmistakable. But it would be unjust to dismiss Seven Ark as an imitator as there is much more to Noise Of The New than that. Lee Norris has an uncanny ear for the personal, and this is present in Justin’s slant on the glitchy, systems-based electronic genre.

There are some inspired techniques employed on Noise Of The New both on a track-by-track basis and spanning the album as a whole. It’s interesting, for example, that the impressions Noise Of The New leaves on the listener differ so markedly at its beginning and end. This can be attributed to a gradual and skillfully handled evolution of the sound from one track to the next. Latter impressions of the album point towards comparisons with the early work of Autechre, for example. But if you search for these again from the beginning, they’re simply not there.

The hushed and slowly faded up Rhodes-esque keys of “Tonal3” mark the very human opening of this evolution as slowly more and more random computer bleeps pepper the piece along with fizzing glitches and percussion. Dry, crunchy beats stomp across an almost child-like, barely audible tune that struggles to remain in focus on “Sixteen,” which then morphs seamlessly into “Glass Shattering Under Water,” an obvious high-point on the album, sporting bouncing ball rhythms, cool, melancholy synth washes and tearful chimes. As the complexity of the programming increases, it becomes more and more apparent that the human and computer elements of the pieces are clashing in an attempt to gain control, and the computers are winning.

Devastatingly beautiful, “Separation Device” kicks off with stuttering robotic beat elements followed by the addition of layers of dramatic synth strings beneath, and the whole taken together is reminiscent of a kind of Tri-Repetae / Amber hybrid. “Floor” is similarly resplendent, as a glittering, plaintive solo acoustic guitar circles relentlessly around more hip-hop laced rhythms, while “Some Point Of Departure” flounders slightly under the weight of its own ponderous and rather repetitive loops.

By the time we reach “Nullcline7.3” we are firmly into Autechre territory, traditional beats abandoned or destroyed in favor of crunched up and distorted special effects. Although the sleeve-notes list only eight tracks, an untitled ninth appears as one of those annoying “hidden” tracks that begin playing after a few minutes of silence trailing from the end of the last listed track. And as the album closes the explanation as to why the lasting impression Noise Of The New leaves is that of experimental, Autechre style electronic music is realized.

Dark and dramatic, compulsive and meticulously sculpted, Noise Of The New is infectious IDM of the highest order. Recommended.

Noise Of The New is out now on Neo Ouija.

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