An adult male is incarnated in midair, perfect in all of his cognitive capacities; he remains motionless, floating. The man is blindfolded, and there is nothing to hear, not even the soft calm of charged particles as they push past his suspended torso. His limbs are stretched, phalanges apart, so that his sense of touch is eradicated and he’s left to dwell on what resides within. And so begins Avicenna’s floating man thought experiment, an idea that set out to crystallize a medieval discussion on the essence of the soul. What this 11th Century Persian philomath sought to pursue discerned awareness under complete sense deprivation, allowing the subject to be totally unburdened by outside interference in order to maximize concentration in realizing the very nature of existence. From an artistic perspective, the benefits of infinite concentration in this scenario are surely outgunned by the torturing aspects of meditative predicament, which does not allow for findings from within to be communicated to an audience, cathartically or otherwise.
Nick Edwards may not have been incarnated in midair, but his approach to Plekzationz is similar to the pensive experiences that the floating man might endure. The recording process expanded on results conjured through subliminal shifts and reflection in a space void of exterior influence or distraction: a windowless studio that held little more than a trademark Ekdahl Moisturizer, Danelectro Reel Echo pedals, and an abundance of analog recording equipment used to export non-cognitive contemplation. What transpired in that space came entirely from what intramural inspiration and discernment preceded them, and through the deprivation of the senses — bar those experienced through the work at hand — Edwards became his own transcendental experiment, his very own floating man.
Plekzationz is the second release in 18 years from this abstract musician under his own name, the first being a self-released cassette tape composed of material he had begun to assemble as a teenager. However, Edwards has since then contributed to the online music community via other means, through both his prolific Gutterbreakz blog (which ran between 2003-2010) and a mass of impressive releases under his Ekoplekz moniker. At a time when blogging was still gaining momentum, Gutterbreakz worked as a semi-nostalgic platform for sharing stories on Bristolian nightife, as its central contributor explored the emerging dubstep scene while reviewing records and pondering the obstreperous directions that the music industry was heading. For this writer to then take to the studio and leave those projects temporarily behind was a daring feat that proved just how deeply embedded musical preference can be: the eerie proto-punk of Suicide, the high-pass filter effects of King Tubby, and the techno/house aesthetic of Cabaret Voltaire are in abundance throughout this fantastic sophomore release. But the combinations assembled here are also highly unique and have clearly emerged from an artist with incredible focus and drive, working judiciously with his rumination and making the most of the export format that the original floating man was deprived of.
Plekzationz consists of four parts, which animate that inner submersion, grinding and plucking at lucid experiences with ambient, dub, and industrial music. The tracks amplify a stream of consciousness and self-exploration that is approachable from an outsider’s perspective, yet kept at a safe distance behind chance operations that are still colored by Edward’s imagination. Each track constitutes the organization of sound, as opposed to its composition, by an artist who focuses on clangorous dissimilation and textural fusion while also refraining from the inclusion of samples or impulsively flummoxing over BPM. Instead, every track is given room to breathe, so that ideas, segments, and particles are allowed to pursue their own course, embracing the subconscious that inevitably pulls from various musical styles. This is particularly evident on “Part 2: (No) Escape From ‘79”, which ambles down the more psychotropic avenues of Krautrock before dissolving into a bed of fragile hiss and fleeting glitch, components that are later pulled apart to reveal a manifold bassline that provides both balance and rhythm before it too subsides to the incredible throttle of industrial synths.
The intrepid nature and ravenous clamor of the album are all part of what makes listening to it such a wildly subfusc and dramatically claustrophobic experience. Despite the length and depth of each piece, there is very little room to relax — the effects are intoxicating, oneiric. Halfway through “Part 4: A Pedant’s Progress,” the mood turns increasingly violent when high-pitched pulse emissions battle with growling harmonics and lashing tones that cut like a knife. But this only adds to the showmanship: not only is there an underlying theme to Plekzationz that works as a spiritual cleanser gazing inward, but the manner in which these sounds are delivered is utterly thrilling for those on the outside.