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Vertonen, Broken Air, via the Helen Scarsdale Agency imprint

Vertonen is the work of Blake Edwards, a veteran of the Chicago noise and experimental scene. With close to 100 releases many of them published through his own Crippled Intellect Productions and Ballast imprints spread over several decades, Edwards has finetuned his craft of cryptically inclined, electronic invocations that might channel the raw brutality of industrial machinery or the existential claustrophobia of a submariner's voyage nearing its untimely end. There are numerous aesthetic facets to the Vertonen oeuvre - scabrously harsh noise, zoned-out isolationism, roughly tactile cacophonics, polished smooth harmonics. Yet, much of the work is tied to a conceptual precision that informs if not agitates his sounds to act.

Broken Air is the first album for Vertonen to produce for The Helen Scarsdale Agency. Edwards cites both Oulipo founder Raymond Queneau and Butoh icon Kazuo Ohno as profound influences to the construction of Broken Air, in Edwards' own words "to explore the boundaries between the limited and unlimited capabilities of 'communication' in its broadest definition." It is electricity itself that becomes the primary medium for Edwards on Broken Air, as he extracts the errata from outdated and damaged equipment. A particular brand of radio interference leaps out of the stereo field at the onset of the album, interjecting its signal across smoldering noise from Edwards' electronic instability, starved of voltage or succumbing to old age. A monochromatic dead-circuit tone flutters in various phased states as a gird to Edwards' investigations. What sounds like an abject mutation of a tape loop barely spins on its creaking axis before its half-dead mitochondrial DNA dissolves into tendrils of haptic vibration.

That possibility for communication within Edwards' Broken Air is found in the cracks, wheezes, and toxic seepages of his electronic amalgamations. Parallels might be found in Aaron Dilloway's elegantly inhuman abstractions, the attention to detail of Michael Gendreau's internal probing, and a forced manifestation of decay that is so common in the work of Eric Lunde and Joe Colley.

Mastered by Bob Bellerue.

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jeff surak
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