Wanda Group Ornate Circular

[NNA Tapes; 2016]

Styles: musique concrète, acousmatic
Others: The Hers, Dem Hunger, Henry Caravan, Ssaliva

If you hadn’t already been entangled by Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight, A Slab About Being Held Captive, or the Ssaliva-split Birth Body, for example, your acquaintance with Wanda Group might be the Chinese conglomerate property developer and cinema operator. In any case, though, we might as well take that account. I mean, it doesn’t really matter what anyone makes of Wanda Group. It’s all as irrelevant as the music is immaterial, isn’t it?

Ornate Circular, the latest release from Louis Johnstone’s Wanda Group, presents the pure “creative manipulation of the sounds of earthly existence, void of context… creating a totality of abstraction which nullifies context altogether.” The project’s third NNA Tapes release is full of crackles, squeaks, and hums, with the occasional rattle and faint animal-like sounds. Whatever space warrants this kind of conglomerate is an obscure one. Words like “void,” “abstract,” and “nullifying,” though, clearly don’t get at Ornate Circular’s otherwise meaningful, real, and validating temperament.

Aside from uncertainty of place, the real question is one of belonging. Ornate Circular is the soundtrack to your existential crisis, spurring a realization of belonging in a network of otherwise disconnected elements. Between torn-out shreds of rocks and mountains, all merged together into a fuller totality, the “why’s” and “how’s” of existence are much clearer under Ornate Circular’s guidance. It’s not obscure, after all. Johnstone merely employs his subject-matter to see where it leads and what new meanings it might provide. In fact, this is meaning in its plainest, verbified, only abstract when left in a realm of its own.

Ornate Circular is not concerned with tone, per se, but with envelopes and tangents, in the ornamental way that Johnstone’s all-caps Twitter tongue is down to a simple visual preference of form, and the album can be first appreciated for its fittingly ornate circus: an arena of rhetoric, gaudy pageantry. Of course, the question of musique concrète itself is to accumulate material sounds and ransack their aesthetic worth. This is not new ground, but its inferences are.

Links: Wanda Group - NNA Tapes

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