Fitting nicely within forty minutes and a bit and six tracks, Murky Circuits is no ordinary electronic record. The fruit of the collaborative effort between American composer Django Voris, Swiss electronic music Moritz Wettstein and British producer PJ Norman, who met in New York in the beginning of last year and channelled their combined creative juices at the Harvestworks foundation, originally set up partly by Bob Moog in 1977 to support artistic creation by means of electronic technologies, Fates work from a particularly complex set up involving three laptops and as many peripheral devices as they can connect to them, allowing the trio to record, sample, re-sample and process live. The resulting lengthy improvisations were then cut down and edited into bite size portions for the purpose of this record by PJ Norman.
Norman invokes the urban bustle of New York as a main creative influence behind the record, which translates into intricate electronic textures, mechanical rhythmic patterns and syncopated constructions, but, while entirely pertinent, this is a tad reductive. Indeed, the vast array of electronics used here, while often too processed or unusual to be identified individually, help create a particularly abstract soundtrack which goes beyond the simple representation of city life to evoke some sort of apocalyptic post-nuclear world. The beats, when managing to stay in focus for long enough, and soundscapes are hectic and wrapped in a strange aural glow throughout, but each track is built from layers upon layers of sounds, glitches, found sounds, interferences and distortions which continuously change as they gain or lose prominence.
This is at times partly obscured by a linear outer layer, as is the case on Washed Up On Sure or Murky Circuitry for instance, but elsewhere, these are left much more exposed and raw. On the twelve minute epic 99% + 1% Space, the surface sonic coating is kept fairly minimal, leaving the internal structure clearly apparent all the way through, while the arrhythmic groove of Paris Gun never totally obscures the power struggle between the various components of its lower layers. On Complacency And Wasps, it is a sliced up vocal input which instantly catch the attention, but later on, the incessant criss-crossing of distorted noises become almost too intense to take on.
While Fates worked with a fairly extensive set up during the recording sessions, the constraints of live improvisation, recording and editing ensure that there is a great consistency of tone and mood all the way through, which is further reinforced by PJ Norman’s precise post-editing and mixing. Murky Circuits never settles once for an easy time, its nebulous post-industrial soundscapes constantly tweaked and realigned to create one of the most original electronic records of the year to date.