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CD Feature/ The Missing Ensemble: "Hidden Doors"

img  Tobias

There is a line in the hidden booklet to this release, which reads as follows: “He (...) convinced himself that it was an actual human object, an answering machine.” Now, in the context of Brian Evenson’ short story, which deals with finding your own identity through eyes “seeping with blood”, this sentence come across as perfectly normal. Taken on its own, it pays lip service to a different reality, where the differences between the organically grown and the mechanically crafted have waned, diminishing further with every breath. This is the reality The Hidden Ensemble is operating in.

“Hidden Doors” is the predecessor to this year’s “Zeropolis”, an alluring statement constructed from otherwhise perfectly uncharming material. Looked at it with the knowledge of this album, though, the latter suddenly seems quite warm and inviting: On their debut album, the trio of Daniel de los Santos, John Sellekaers and Mathias Delplanque have wiped away every notion of concreteness, every detail that might reveal their source material’s origin. Ernst Karel, an important musical friend, supposedly plays trumpet on the first of the work’s four parts, but even with my headphones on and my fantasy on overdrive, I can’t make out, where exactly. Meanwhile, Eric Heinroth’s contribution on synthesizer could be just about anywhere.

Everything the ensemble gets into their fingers (or samplers) is chopped up, hacked apart, spliced, diced and recomposed to form gleeming textures and indefinite, snapping noises. And yet, their music is no wildly randomizing l’art pour l’art, but a rigidly controlled stream of consciousness, which bases on a single root note and evolves through timbral changes, filter modulation and the addition and substraction of thematically related sounds. Despite the interrlatedness of the individual movements, they are each unique in the way they write out the formula in full, rendering “Hidden Doors” a varied and diverse record.

While part two packs the drones tightly together and switches from one scene to the next several times in the short space of its barely two and a half minutes, part three even comes up with chuckling rhythms of hisses, clicks, drops and delicate thumpings. But whatever the approach, the group stays recognisable all the way. Even Masami Akita’s (aka Merzbow’s) noise attacks are reduced to ominous thunder clouds rolling over the hills, never fully releasing their aggressive potential.

Just like with “Zeropolis”, I was left wondering about how the band managed to take this highly processed material and turn it into something alltogether emotional. The answer lies probably in the way they allow their sounds to flow naturally and develop in an environment of symbiotic evolution – the members are virtually becoming one with their instruments. This soul lies underneath the surface, behind the hidden doors the album title refers to. It is the driving force behind the Missing Ensemble and the very reason their music retains its humanity.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: The Missing Ensemble
Hompage: Angle Records

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