Via App Sixth Stitch

[Break World; 2016]

Styles: flux, oscillation, circularity, intensity, techno
Others: Total Freedom, Bookworms, LOFT

“[A] series of uncanny disturbances stitched together towards an encrypted noir.”
– Via App in an email to The FADER, describing Sixth Stitch

“In return, female subjectivity as it gives itself up to intuition becomes a problem with respect to a certain conception of time: time as project, teleology, linear and prospective unfolding; time as departure, progression, and arrival - in other words, the time of history.”
– Julia Kristeva, Women’s Time, p. 17

Via App’s first full-length album is a slippery beast. Its textures are disorienting, its sonics haunted. It leaks into the listener’s ears from another dimension — strange and liquid, unsettling and defamiliarizing. It operates against rigidity and linearity; “to hell with techno!” it cries, grabbing the listener by the throat, pumping them full of sticky, viscous matter, their jaw locking, their stomach bulging. It’s an ecstatic overload, a play of gesture, tone, and mood. It ain’t your daddy’s techno long-player.

Sixth Stitch is possessed by heat. Its tracks are in constant thermal flux, charting paths between the blistering and the freezing, warm envelopment and icy suspension. These shifts occur both within and across tracks, infusing the album with an unearthly momentum that stretches far beyond the 4/4. As they heat up and cool down, the tracks’ edges distort, releasing rhythmic and tonal residues, which are captured and repurposed — grist to Sixth Stitch’s compositional mill. This sonic auto-cannibalism is evident from the first track, “Far She,” which begins with a heavy, languid pulse before finding its groove — kicks piling on top of each other, synths whirring away in the background. As it unfurls, the track becomes entangled in its own rhythmic gears, its melodies shifting as it reconstructs itself in a new form, simultaneously consuming and producing itself.

In interviews, Via App has mentioned the influence of Total Freedom on her approach to composition, and Sixth Stitch stands as a conceptual interpolation of his DJing style. Her use of abrasion and atonality, and the ways in which her tracks shift tempos and textures speaks to the potency of Total Freedom’s digital approach to dance music. Via App extends his tactic by burrowing into the core of that most functional genre — techno. By locating herself within its aesthetic and formal frameworks, she explodes its reliance on teleology, its phallic attachment to History as progression, rearticulating it within a schema of flux and intensity. She creates new possibilities, spaces, and affects for the genre, environments in which juxtaposition and contradiction are made constructive and destructive in equal measure.

Her tracks flow into these new generic non-places, taking up residence within their maelstroms, nesting in their constant oscillation between collapse and emergence. It’s a place of pure immanence, all-encompassing and total: these tracks have no outside. They’re moored precariously to the phenomenal world, their textures hazy and lambent, their rhythms tactile, their kicks rich and forceful. They sprout strange new limbs in real time, heaving and panting as they transform, like Space Jam’s villainous, basketball-playing aliens. On the roiling “Con Artist,” a lurid, industrial snare drum and a hypertreated snare are bisected by swathes of noise, leaving the listener flailing, any attempt to grab hold of something futile, the whole construction melting away.

This sense of dislocation is heightened by the writerly moments threaded through the album, appearing both within other tracks and as standalone works. These pieces are less concerned with the club than with the construction of liminal spaces, enlisting the listener in mapping their physics and geometries. So we have the ambient, molecular sonics of “Dissapearances,” “Visabel’s” satellite lounge-pop, and “Fevered Proviso’s” monastic drones. These excursions divide the album into a series of interconnected suites, with tonally similar tracks drifting together in loose whorls of intensity. By piecing in these soundscapes, Via App imbues her tracks with an uncertain potentiality, the sense that they could just as easily shed their skin and reveal their beating techno heart as remain in a state of perpetual energy, vibing off intensity and momentum ad infinitum.

Fittingly for an album concerned with heat and motion, Sixth Stitch draws to a close with “Airborne Shuffle,” a soundtrack to the launch sequence of some fantastic aircraft. Spectral strings rush back and forth, insistent synths and plosive kicks dovetail gently, and a hardware melody rises and falls with the smoothness of a sleeping body. The album takes its leave here, remaining in a state of constant flux, always and forever “render[ing] explicit a rupture, an expectation, or an anguish which other temporalities work to conceal.”

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