Review: Dead Voices On Air ‘Abrader Redux’

This is a record made up of grinding industrial loops and textures. It’s both sound art and industrial ambient music. Like ambient music, it intends to bring the sounds you hear at the margins into the centre and amplify them – Brian Eno’s Music For Airports for example. But that’s where comparisons end. If Mark Spybey’s (of Zoviet France fame) work is new to you, this is an album that matches its title – abrader. And much like the rock abrading tools are designed to break down, this is hard listening, but with some surprisingly melodic moments, including a cavernous recording of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

Dead Voices On Air 'Abrader Redux'

Abrader Redux is a complex album. It’s comprised of a reissue of 1994’s Abrader (recorded in 1993), which was originally released on a cassette. Following that are two more tracks recorded in 1994 and released in 2009 and then two previously unreleased tracks Water Waetr and Gassbag – which are the two I was excited about.

Abrader was originally recorded in a few days in Vancouver in 1993 by Spybey, using the most minimal of setups. He recalls creating the album, having just moved to Canada, ‘At this point in time I hardly had any equipment, just a few musical toys, a Portastudio, a microphone and a rented FX unit. We recorded in my small apartment. So I made music with whatever was at hand or whatever I could borrow from friends.’

The tracks on this album are recorded loops of primitive instruments and found objects, so you are left with a totally ‘original’ sound, made up of the physical properties of the objects worked with at the time, overlaid with dark ambient washes and industrial whirring. Then, partly inspired by musician/designer, and head of G.R.O.S.S Records, Akifumi Nakajima, Spybe would phase shift, process and layer the recorded sounds to create spacious, metallic soundscapes that build into crescendos. Try 1994’s Hafted Maul for size to hear this at work.

the slow stretching of the fabric of sanity…

Most exciting are the two previously unreleased tracks, Water Waetr and Gassbag. The former, Water Waetr, opens with bursts white noise, which almost accumulates into a groove with noodling electronic squiggles flying back and forth. Then the abyss opens up. I don’t like overdramatic descriptions that aren’t present in the music, however, this is an exception: this track is a bit like the actual sound of the end of the world. Not dramatic overexcited orchestras and cheap emotional beats that you find in a Marvel film, it’s the slow stretching of the fabric of sanity.

Gassbag is arguably the most accessible ambient track on this album, taking a much more meditative path. It still has granular textures to it, but with warping washes of synth that rise and fall.  It’s an excellent closer.

The artwork on this album makes it worth getting on vinyl, created by Spybe himself and crafted by Abby Helasdottir. The record is also dedicated to Spybey’s friends, sadly no longer with us; the aforementioned Akifumi Nakajima, aka Aube, of G.R.O.S.S Records and Zev Asher who both passed away in 2013.

Label: Cold Spring Records
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: James Bullock