Good luck identifying the sounds on Murky Circuits. The debut album from the three-way collaboration Fates – American composer Django Voris, Swiss electronic artist Moritz Wettstein, and British-born producer PJ Norman – sprang from the laptop-aided incorporation of such makeshift musical devices as telephones and shopping trolleys. The recordings were done at the experimental-music foundation Harvestworks in New York City and later mixed down by Norman in Zurich. Like Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma, it’s a post-glitch triumph that goes by quickly but not without making one’s head spin.
All jittery percussion and diced vocal samples, ‘Complacency And Wasps’ starts things off with a hopped-up confluence of sounds, slotting its different elements into a palpable groove before letting each fall away in turn. ‘F8 Bit Waves’ is buzzing and busy at first and yet considerably more open than the first track. The near-title track ‘Murky Circuitry’ is perfectly named, having a submerged quality while pulsing away and approaching the industrial. And the short ‘Paris Gun’ gets at the uncertainty of the repetition on this album: we’re never sure what’s coming next.
Very much the album’s centrepiece, the 12-minute ‘99% + 1% Space’ best shows off the improvisational nature of this project. With an itchy tension throughout, it establishes an undercurrent of plunging sub-bass while bits of rhythms pop off in the shadows. Sampled vocals return, albeit set back in the jumble, and the vibe swings between dissolute hip-hop and Pantha Du Prince-esque found sounds. There’s much gurgling and thumping along the way, as if the ambient soundtrack of a horror film is threatening to surface. The closing ‘Washed Up On Sure’ swings in another direction entirely, colliding glitch-y tones and a sneaky beat until it’s quite saturated.
While not the jazz-anchored mind-blower that Cosmogramma is, Murky Circuits has a similarly exploded feel. Everything is attempted, and each idea only lasts for as long as it takes to mutate, multiply, and thrive in some other form.