Sometimes we discover new music in the most unexpected ways and, almost always, those unexpected discoveries are the best. It was only a week or so ago, when I was trying to hunt down some music of the freaky and ferocious Japanese noise artist, Merzbow, that I happened to stumble across a small on-line music store that had the best array of experimental music I had ever come across (including the Merzbow - which I hope to discuss here in the next few days). Its sole owner/operator, Kevan Revis, also happens to be a composer and producer of experimental noise and so I decided to add his debut, and so far only, album, Sollicitudo, to my order.
Sollicitudo is in two parts, each clocking in at just under 18 minutes. Each is built out of a kind of quietly unsettling mixture of sounds - sounds which Revis records and gathers and then electronically manipulates into his music. They are sounds that are a little other-worldly, and yet occasionally sounding a little familiar, too, like those indistinct, undefinable sounds you hear at night. They are sounds that often seem to come from different universes, like deep, droning rumbles from one direction, strange distant clatters from another, the sound of alien water from another. And yet Revis somehow manages to blend them all together into an amazing synthesis of sound, giving it unity, and leaving you wondering why someone hadn't thought to put those sounds together before.
But it's destabilising, despite all of that - music that leaves you on edge, unsettled, and more than just a little bit freaked, despite its almost deceptive quietness. This, at least as I see music, is an incredible achievment - music that can manage to shake you and shatter you, without needing to blast your eardrums or your speakers in the process. But, even so, play it as loud as you can, because it deserves to be heard and to be heard well.
The two parts of Sollicitudo belong very much together, and yet they are very different, too. One plays with a kind of gentle creepiness, as if you are frozen somewhere, listening to the sounds of a spectral night cascading around you. The other is more edgy, with short and sharp bursts of sound that never let you alone, never let you rest.
I very much hope that Sollicitudo is not the only work that Kevan Revis produces, because it's a great example of the interesting and engaging things that are happening all over the place in contemporary experiemental music. It's music that deserves to be encouraged and that demands to be heard.
You can visit Kevan's store, and get his music, at: http://www.boxer-records.com/