Daniel Menche Glass Forest

[Important; 2008]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: Noise, African Percussion, Systems Music
Others: Lasse Marhaug, John Wiese, Kevin Drumm

Daniel Menche has long been a Maxwell's Demon of American sound art. Like the physicist’s namesake goblin, he stands as a mediator between competing matrices of noise, carefully evaluating each particle of sound before allowing them to enter their opposing worlds. And also like Maxwell's Demon, his works are experiments in thought and systems. His honed style thrives on subtleties, crescendos, sublimation, and locomotive transformation. One can easily become immersed in his web of carefully sculpted sound hip-gnosis.

Glass Forest, Menche's final compact disc before going vinyl-only, has an evocative name, recalling a lurching environment of crystal branches and other fragilities hanging precariously in balance. This equilibrium is constantly on the brink of teetering lopsidedly like the Titanic into the night sea of the Atlantic, but it never fully submerges. Along the peaks and valleys of the journey, plateaus are reached where strength is gained and lessons are learned. Only from there can one harness the power to eventually realize that it isn’t about reaching the nexus, but the journey that led you there.

As with earlier works, Menche blurs the lines between drone and percussion, flattening down maddening shaka zulu drum circle bombastics into an almost consistent tone. Elements of his music evoke the maneuverings of a perpetual motion machine: once propelled by its benevolent creator, it gradually builds up steam, always drawing on its own energy to move increasingly faster. The machine is a rogue element in the world of physics, viciously violating the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Menche's music similarly picks up steam in the wake of its own detritus (and breaking rules along the way), as more and more sounds subliminally work their way into the mix.

Menche’s machines, however, do not go on infinitely. At the end of "One," all the structured chaos winds down before another faintly sputtering motor meets up with the dying embers of a once fantastic conglomeration of sounds. It would appear Menche believes in entropy after all.

A spin of Glass Forest will surely give you the chills, as crystalline structures will surely calcify in your brain. The stalagmites may take a little longer to form, but by the end of your listening experience, your head will be an intricate ice palace of epic proportions.

1. One
2. Two
3. Three

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