Boothroyd Idle Hours [EP]

[Tri Angle; 2014]

Styles: sound design
Others: Fis, SD Laika, DYNOOO

In a rather hilarious interview with Dazed this summer, Peter Boothroyd summed up his adolescence thus: “I grew up in North Manchester, in a shit little working class town where nothing has happened for about 400 years. It was lifeless, dull, deprived, growing up there really wasn’t nice at all. Music gave me something to do other than just knock on people’s doors and run off.” He’s since relocated to London, but if his music is anything to go by, those Manchester grays burrowed themselves deep into his psyche.

Idle Hours, his debut EP, is a beguiling collection of sonic sketches that refuses to commit to any one genre in particular. Instead, it seems more content to choose a color: gray. Opener and lead single “NYC” acquaints you with his palette immediately; field recordings distorted beyond all hope of recognition bounce around a guitar sample that veers closer to washes of noise than melodic content. Alarms sound off in the distance, as noisy oscillations that sound like a malfunctioning helicopter begin to bash your skull in. It’s frightening, dreary stuff, but also utterly compelling. Even as the walls of digital clipping begin to pile up, it always feels like Boothroyd’s got a remarkable grasp on what’s going on in the mix, giving little bits of reprieve right as he begins the next assault.

There’s a sense in which cuts like “Skinned,” while clearly showing off the grimey sensibilities that he’s talked about in their rhythms, feel so much closer to the eyes than the body. I wouldn’t call these tracks “cinematic” in the way critics often use the term, but they definitely conjure up images of a place, albeit a terribly hellish one. Perhaps this is why I find Nic Hamilton’s cover art for the release so intriguing. As the creator of the rather aggressive aesthetic of recent Evian Christ and RL Grime material, he takes a left turn here with a subtle piece that drapes gray material over the outline of a cityscape, fitting perfectly with the music. Boothroyd’s heaping globs of noise would be a gray monolith if not for the familiar textures that occasionally poke through, making his music alien rather than simply unwelcoming.

Boothroyd is working in a very strange space right now. He’s almost definitely genre-less (assuming you’re not the kind to count “electronic” and “experimental” as real tags), but he’s certainly not peerless. If anything, his association with Tri Angle is actually the most predictable thing about him. Following drops from Fis, SD Laika, and The Haxan Cloak, the harsh specters of Idle Hours feel quite natural. The former’s skeletal D&B skank casts a long shadow over this release, particularly with respect to the fluttery, abstract percussion, and the whole thing feels like a cross between Evian Christ’s early ambient “Duga-3” tape and his more garish Waterfall EP from this year. However, I think one would be remiss to chalk Boothroyd up to a Frankenstein’s monster of the Tri Angle roster. The twitchy, rainy vibes of “Y5” in particular, replete with cascading sheets of hiss and ghastly moans, feel like they point to entirely new dimensions of darkness. If this is what he made with a pair of “cheap, shitty headphones,” I can’t wait to see the kind of aural carnage he can drum up with a real studio.

Links: Boothroyd - Tri Angle

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