THE INFANT CYCLE
A Mysterious Disc
The Infant Cycle (real name Jim DeJong) weighs in with two new releases, a forty-five-minute set titled A Mysterious Disc and an alluring seven-inch called Secret Hidden Message pressed on clear grey vinyl. The former appears on DeJong's own Hamilton, Ontario-based imprint The Ceiling while the latter comes to us courtesy of Bremen , Germany 's Drone Records. In operation since 1992, The Infant Cycle has built up an impressive catalogue of releases, including Rural Sprawl, a recent full-length collaboration with Aidan Baker issued on the Russian label Zhelezobeton.
DeJong chose to include no information with A Mysterious Disc, preferring instead that the listener hear it unencumbered by recording details, so one can only speculate as to the sound sources used to generate the six pieces. However, info accompanying the EP indicates that trombone, guitar, wind chimes, marimba, organ, and bird cage were among the materials deployed for its three pieces so one presumes sources as idiosyncratic were used for the CD tracks. Of course it's all moot at this juncture anyway, given the radical transformations any originating sound can accrue through digital treatments. The first and fourth pieces present long, flowing swathes of elegant sweep and the third a hollowed-out, wavering slab of grime haunted by faint melodies. The dominant piece at eighteen minutes, track five scatters soft ripples across lulling industrial trails suggestive of an airplane flying distantly overhead, while the sixth is a one-minute exeunt of minor consequence assembled from comparatively identifiable sounds (water, creaking door).
The EP's three pieces (two created in October, 2006 and the other six years earlier) are similar in kind to the CD material and so make a natural complement to it. In the rather gelatinous "Secret Hidden Message," loops of lapping clicks simulate a carved-out groove while a steely, encrusted drone unspools alongside, after which the electric organ-driven "(And Then The Dog Replied)" rumbles and shimmers for two minutes. DeJong created the B-side's "Trombone" using the title instrument as the sole sound source but, as one would expect, the seven-minute piece offers nothing remotely like a Glen Miller solo but rather the droning, hollowed-out churn of corroded industrial machinery. Don't be thrown by DeJong's affinity for unusual sound sources; the material generated from them isn't off-putting in the least.
La majeure partie de la musique de The Infant Cycle consiste en un travail sur le rythme claudicant, la boucle cassee, le sillon ferme, comme le grossissement de la boiterie de Silk Saw. La majeure partie oui, mais aujourd'hui, le Mysterious disc de The Infant Cycle est un album de drones. Pour autant, il ne transige pas avec son esthetique seche et glacee, il en a simplement retire les aretes. Frequentant physiquement et musicalement de nombreux artistes de la nappe, depuis Cordell Klier jusqu'a Aidan Baker en passant par Liquid Sphere, The Infant Cycle / Jim deJong s'est risque sur leur chemin. La poesie depassant la geographie, ou bien l'augmentant, on peut neanmoins affirmer qu'il n'a pas quitte sa propre voie. Ses nappes semblent aussi tressees en boucles, comme le sont habituellement ses sauts rythmiques, mais le mineral s'est dissous dans ce fluide qui n'est pourtant pas loin, tant il est froid, de se figer a nouveau. On n'en saura pas plus sur la nature de ces vibrations d'harmoniques car c'est un disque volontairement mysterieux, sans rien pour le renseigner, atteint d'une meme absence que la plupart des ¤uvres de Francisco Lopez, pour une approche transcendantale. Alors soit, plongeons dans ces oscillations et dans ces liqueurs, qu'elles soient chargees de promesses melodiques ou au contraire semblent traverser un espace sans lumiere, elles sont d'un drone granuleux, charge de sels. Apres tant de saisons d'engrangement, les amas de clicks et de gresillements, miraculeusement animes dans les expressions coutumieres de The Infant Cycle, ne sont sont pas desagreges en vain : dans les flux et les reflux, les sinus de sable, les vents froids charges de cristaux, les glaces tremblant jusqu'au bourdon, ils deploient un disque effigie de ce que l'on appellera grey ambient.
Drones, hiss, buzzing. This ambient release has a very metallic timbre. It sounds like a swarm of cyborg bees heard at a great distance. Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in claustrophobic corridors of soporific noise-drone, choking and delirious. This is not music to listen to when you are having a bout of agoraphobia.
At times the music becomes more abrupt, harsh, shifting from sound to silence rapidly. It sounds like strange, alien beasts are rutting, eating or killing one another but again, filtered through the haze of some distant metal structure.
At other points we find ourselves in a more tranquil though always eerie atmosphere. The drones haze across one another, establishing some very alien sound waves. It is almost like the feeling you get when you need to depressurise your ears on an aeroplane. More high tech claustrophobia.
Silence. These slower passages of the album invoke isolation and silence, and somehow it feels quieter when I'm listening to this CD than when I'm listening to nothing. But always it's a little unsettling. As a child I'd get a little edgy after watching a horror film. This music gives me the adult version of this experience.
At times eerie buzzes, clicks and static hover in the lower reaches of the tracks, points of rupture or disconnection that line the smooth drones with jagged edges, like the aural equivalent of broken wires sparking in the derelict corridors of some grand, but abandoned and mystery filled, space ship.
Similarly there are sometimes deep banks of rough-hewn drone at the edges of the sound vistas this CD deploys. They put me in mind of the distant hum of the engines of a space ship, the awesome but docile roar of thrusters hauling some elaborate piece of space junk through the dark and infinite void. It's a power use of subliminal sound.
The periodic abrupt changes and stops can really throw you off, too in a good way. Having lulled my reptile brain in a deep trance, the sudden change comes as a brutal jolt. It's a classic illustration of the victory of dynamics over brute force. Death metal bands should be made to listen to this music to get an education about how to really injure their listeners.
Indeed, the album ends in this fashion, and it hurts! I involuntarily jump every time I hear it. By way of comparison, metal hasn't had that effect on me for ages. Good work The Infant Cycle!
It's actually quite a feat to induce both the vast reaches of space and a state of claustrophobia as well. Ultimately this music doesn't speak to me at the deepest emotional levels, but it does make me want to go to the video store and hire out flicks like Alien, Event Horizon, The Thing and even Solaris. And this is no bad thing.
Film studios should be chasing The Infant Cycle like mad to make science fiction and horror film soundtracks.
Again Jim DeJong the cerebral organism behinds THE INFANT Cycle surprise us with this release.A trip full of hypnotic experimentations, this time though 3 compositions in which you shall experience enough elements of all his creative expressionsims.The first track its a repetitive structure dressed with drone patterns which mutates from time to time adopting diverse soundscapes and atmospheres creating spectral cosmic elements. The second one is more dense and eerie in its own drone structures which offers colossal spectrums dressed with strong atmospheres. and closing its the third track created through bird sounds and some field recordings to complement the strange world created by THE INFANT CYCLE in this release.3"CDr packaged in a simple fold-over cover. For more information just visit The Ceiling page!!
Since much of the music that is reviewed in these pages is sold through mailorder, I can see why The Infant Cycle want to release "A Mysterious Disc". No information whatever on the cover, but a small note says the title, and that's released by The Ceiling. A short release, of just two tracks, lasting fifteen minutes. The Infant Cycle do whatever they do best: music created with loops of crackling vinyl, spiced with electronics. The first piece is very short, and ends quite abruptly. Bummer. But the second piece is great. Minimal, almost trance inducing, psychedelic even, this is a subtle floating piece, hovering close over the surface of the earth. One of the best pieces I heard from him. You could wonder if it is such a wise thing to have it in such an obscure release. Maybe a re-issue should be thought of?
Frans de Waard
Wonderful Wooden Reasons
Jim DeJong's The Infant Cycle make a very welcome return to these here pages with a short but ever so sweet display of sputtering ambience. DeJong's particular muse is one of disjointed non-rhythms and fragmented melodies underscored with long tonal drones and washes.
The thing I like the most about his recordings is that he manages to make something with the potential to sound really rather cacophonous into something that sounds really rather serene.
If you don't like drone records, you obviously don't like drones. For years now they have released the most relentless and consequential drone seven inches and if you think that drone and a short format don't go together so well, you better think again. Actually, the question arising is, if "secret hidden message" is not too dynamic, too diverse in outset to really qualify as a pure drone. But then again, who cares. The Infant Cycle, in its more than one and a half decade of experimental music making never has for sure. It is what it is and it is exactly what it feels like. The three tracks on the seven inch are made from a variety of objects (guitar, marimba, bird cage, wind chimes, electric organ, trombone, and so on) but manipulated to an extent you won't recognise. There is less information on the music on the 3" CD that has been released on The Infant Cycle's own home imprint The Ceiling. Nice additions to an ever growing output of likewise mysterious but enchanting rhythmless grooves.
A mysterious disc, indeed. No telling back from front as the same, black and white stylized circles and rectangles appear on either side of the cover. Nothing but a clean white surface on the disc itself. And what's more, according to the website there are two more 7" vinyl discs also called "A Mysterious Disc", which do not seem identical with this CDR nor perhaps each other, even though all three share the same catalogue number.
The Hamilton, Ontario native behind The Infant Cycle is doggedly self-effacing, dictating that nothing ought to stand between the sound and the listener. So we will ignore all that and just listen with a wide-open mind.
Two untitled tracks then, the first a dampened, thudding rhythm keeping time for some antiquated blast furnace. Cut off suddenly and brutally at two minutes and twenty-five seconds.
The second piece offers a queer rhythmic framework seemingly sourced from two hands ripping the fabric of some bubblewrap in half looped for its entire thirteen minutes. In actual fact, it is surely a fortuitously rich and resonant trail of knotty imperfections in a single groove on a slab of vinyl. Either way, it is incredibly tactile and seductive. A steady but bright hum slides in under this rhythm and above, metallic bees and wind-up hummingbirds flit and fuss.
As an extended denouement, these small, nearby sounds are succeeded by what in my mind can only be the steam whistle of a midnight train off in the distance, heard from bed, late at night.
It is what it is and it did what it promised.
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