Every so often, we receive experimental/noise releases for review that are so diverse, one of my suggestions end up being that the artist should expand on the different elements in separate releases later on. Well, today’s offering does just that. Today we have the six-CD set, Hexalogy by Philadelphia-based act, Imbued Vagary.
They did Hexalogy right. Six discs, each with different colors but united by basically the same design on each. The diversity across the board is borderline insane and really shows the ends of the “envelopes” that the band is willing to push. From noise to ambient, to drone and all in between. But let’s explore some of the individual qualities of the discs.
Starting with Captured Moments 2, as it’s noted on Bandcamp, “these are moments of raw electronic improvisation, complete with all the “imperfections” one would expect.” I think a more accurate description, however, would be a simultaneous exploration of structure and improvisation” in the same piece. Here’s what’s interesting about this concept in this release, the structure sometimes comes in the form of analog synth patterns supplying the foundation or a programmed beat. That brings to mind another thing we see throughout the Hexalogy series. It’s not just based on structure/improvisation. It seems to be an exploration of man & machine: the human-programmed sounds vs. the synths almost taking on a life of themselves in the improvisation. “Accelerated Growth” is a really fantastic track on this CD merging different synth sounds-deep analog and higher ambient planes.
Moving on to Live 2, we have, as it states on Bandcamp, “The first Live release in this series was the result of live performances that showcased the symbiotic relationship of men and machines in concert.” So I was right! – Man vs. Machines. Maybe in a weird way, this music has its way of reaching the minds of listeners beyond “imagination.” Anyway, only 4 tracks on this one and as you might guess from the quote, it’s far more improvisational. What’s cool about this disc is that it goes from the noisy depth and heaviness of a track like “Plains of Industry” to a softer, Moog and Arp-laden synth journey. We go back to structure a bit in this track with the steady beat guiding.
Moving on to Noise 2, we have something that “showcases the harsher side of our Floating Fish Studios Synth Jam live improv sessions and live concert performances. Just when I thought Live 2 was going to be my favorite, the harsh, noisy reminders of the likes of Sutcliffe Jugend and KK Null rear their ugly heads… especially KK Null as he is a master of structure vs. chaos in the same piece. Very spacy feel about this one like a B-movie space experiment gone haywire. Another interesting merger appears on this one. Whereas the synths and noise were separated but in the same tracks, a track like “Clandestine Plans” actually appears to apply the “noise” directly as an effect TO the synth sound. It would appear that these artists are always mindful of ways to combine and separate sounds and structures and chaos.
Let’s go now to Wheels Of Steel which opens with “Can You Dig It” and a hyper LP scratch like an 80s breakdance movie only off the rails to a point where it almost appears like jumbled up speech. I have to wonder if that was intentional. If so, the brilliance continues! If not, the brilliance continues anyway. On track 2 we find one of my favorite inclusions in experimental noise releases and that is found/spoken word samples. In this case, it creates a rhythm besides the chaotic scratch and the meandering synths above it. So, here they go again… creating structure and pattern with samples. Intriguing. There is some severe exploration of immediacy and depth in this release, also again of chaos and order. It’s almost like a Kraftwerk rehearsal with a lunatic messing with some turntables.
Captured Moments 3 might be one of the more diverse records in Hexalogy and perhaps even the creepiest. From the creepy female voice monologue over the analog synths in tracks like “Dismember Myself,” “Home Dose” and “Blue 47” to the short but unsettling track, “Out of Nowhere.” The latter track itself is especially creepy with the backwards voice samples and periodic EKG-sounding blips.
And finally, we arrive at Noise 3, the last disc in our review of Hexalogy. Noise 3 puts all of its elements into two lengthy tracks. This album contains “a set of performance rehearsals at the 05/21/16 Experimental Music/Noise show in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s also noted on Bandcamp that Imbued Vagary rehearses “with lights, lasers, and fog to ensure the peak awareness of the experience with the audience.” This is interesting as one must imagine how the aesthetics of the project go with the music that we’ve reviewed.” In any case, I enjoyed this disc as well as the tracks are a pair of noise explorations and again, in KK Null fashion, we hear a mix of space-like structure under a study in depth, frequencies and layers of flat and fluctuating noise parts. The first track is a bit more vacuous and harsh but still takes the listener on a pretty uncomfortable trip into some other world.
At the end of the day, I feel that in this six disc set, there is something for all experimental music fans to enjoy, whether its noise, ambient, drone or a combination of all of these, the studies this project is doing are extremely intriguing and clearly mindfully intelligent.”