Crawl Unit, Stop listening

Who says Sacramento isn’t cool? Sacramento is cool. Crawl Unit is from Sacramento. These recordings were all made in Sacramento. ‘Nuff said.

There are five “sound events” on this disc. I don’t know whether that’s J. Colley’s term or Erik Hoffman’s, but I like it. (I may even start calling Mahler’s symphonies and Berlioz’ operas “sound events.” And what about those Bach cantatas?) As each event has its own character, they are carefully and cunningly named. Overload harmonics is a lot of grit and squeaky sounds over a couple of different drones. Interesting how different electronic grit (as here) is from analog grit (as from either end of lps, which are used here for that charming variable speed business that never seems to get old). (Untitled) takes us inside a gigantic electronic cello or perhaps it’s a double bass. Empty sound isn’t. (But the album title has already taught us to ignore.) The soft (distant) clangs over the top of the throbbing low frequencies do suggest empty space, to be sure. That’s what the reverb switch is for, after all. But most of this event is made up of long held sounds that don’t change much. And for those of you new to minimalism, “don’t change much” means “change more than you could ever imagine in thousands of subtle and interesting ways.” I was particularly taken with the speaker buzzing sounds about seven and a half minutes in. I’ve commented on ambiguity elsewhere, but I’ll add here that it’s always an extra little thrill when you don’t know (right away) whether that’s your speakers buzzing or on the recording, whether it’s your cd skipping or on the recording, whether that train whistle is coming out of your speakers or live outside your house (and far across the valley).

Oh to have been at 1912 (good year, that) 10th St. in Sacramento in April of 1997, when Study for three loudspeakers was recorded. Grand gritty, grungy, staticky noise. How lovely does it get? After this, practically anything would be a let-down. And Wake up you’re alone is no exception. At first. This is the shortest event, and I think you’ll agree that its ending is a fitting ending for the whole album.

Keep listening.

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