Cull Portal slowly mutates in various directions. Analogue synths burble; intense meditative improvisations develop on the piano; pastoral string sections fade in and grow more harmonically complex; wispy saxophones spray modal jazz riffs over coruscating digital drones; live drums and electronic breakbeats occasionally disrupt proceedings. Imagine Tangerine Dream, Keith Jarrett, Vaughan Williams and Aphex Twin all playing concurrently, but still managing to create a coherent and compelling composition.
Lance Gurisik is a conservatoire-trained Australian composer and occasional commercial jingle writer who has returned to Sydney after many years in London. Most of this LP was recorded in isolation, under lockdown, using a vintage Yamaha CS-80 analogue synth, an acoustic piano, and a remotely-recorded string ensemble. The centrepiece is an 18-minute triptych entitled Cull, where the same rising chord sequence is repeated across three tracks in very different ways – as a glistening babble of synths, as a Bill Evans-style piano improvisation, a Wayne Shorter-ish saxophone freakout, a densely written pastoral string arrangement and eventually a morass of squelchy synth and electric piano textures. The next three tracks – Portal, Limbo and Quanta – create a similar trilogy by repeating a hypnotic two-chord phrase, first as a clanking, discordant industrial electronic riot, then a series of shimmering ambient drones and eventually a funky broken-beat groove.
Even when you become aware of the repeated structures and chord sequences, you find yourself constantly startled by the album’s extraordinary textures, audacious turns of phrase and spectacular flourishes. It is a dazzling piece of electronica, a great jazz album and a compelling piece of contemporary orchestral music, all at once.
Also out this week
Audrey Carmes trained as a visual artist at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but has since been creating audio artwork. Her debut album, Quelque chose s’est dissipé (Métron Records) is a piece of haunting ambient minimalism, where motorik synths buzz and gently throb while she recites a rush of poetry. Berlin-based artist Ziúr has been making uncategorisable music for a while, and her new album Eyeroll (Hakuna Kulala) is an exhausting but fascinating mix of primeval growling, free jazz horns, arrhythmic percussion and Björk-ish howls. Baudelaire & Orchestra (SusannaSonata) is the third and best LP of Charles Baudelaire’s poetry by the Norwegian singer Susanna Wallumrød, the boho poet’s verses translated into English and elegantly orchestrated with Stina Stjern. The tumbling, horror movie strings of Destruction and the strident waltz Burial are highlights.