After two years and more than 40 cassette releases, Belgium’s extraordinary Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere. label has a vinyl release for us. Ontmanteling is an eight-piece noise work by fellow Antwerpian O Ratel Ratel.
Recordings like this one are often described as sound sculptures. If that term strikes you as a bit grandiose, you’re not alone. The idea of using a variety of sound elements to build a whole larger than the sum of its parts has always had artistic merit. It’s just difficult to execute.
O Ratel Ratel has no such problem. This is an electrifying, difficult listen that will deepen your appreciation for the noise genre’s boundless potential.
The LP begins with “Bedwelm.” From the start, we’re confronted with grinding metal and a blast of heavy distortion.
“Zindering” comes next. It opens more gently. But like a lot of the material here, it’s difficult to identify the source of the humming energy. Where its predecessor is pure noise, this one has more of an ambient feel. A pulsing electronic sound adds to the effect.
“Troosteloos” is a good example of how uncompromising the full album is. Its density is close to overwhelming. To be clear, there are few people in the world that would recognize this as music. And yet, as this track demonstrates, the material is entirely musical.
“Dool” helps make the point. It opens quietly, bringing to mind cold winter winds and over-modulating microphones. About three minutes in, its intensity builds much like many more conventional new classical music compositions. It just happens to lack a string section.
Recordings like Ontmanteling demand work from their listeners. When they’re as imaginative and exciting as this one, it’s worth the effort.
Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere. is offering the new LP along with a reissue of O Ratel Ratel’s 2016 cassette Zomerzonde. Prior to now, just 22 copies were in circulation.