Based solely on the artwork, I nearly took a pass on Sui Generis. Thankfully, I’m (mostly) not the kind of person who judges a book by its cover, so putting aside the digital collage and poor typography of the inlay of this pretty thick and solid digipack, I’ll get straight to the sounds on the CD itself. Behind this recording lies quite an impressive collective of musicians and their shared exclusive four-hour-long recording session.
Sui Generis (meaning of its own kind) is an eclectic and challenging mixture of analogue synthesized sounds, micro-noises, acoustic sounds from metal, percussion and any kind of instruments that you can imagine. The music itself varies from chaotic noisescapes, solemn bass pulsations, and various bits and pieces of moving and morphing frequencies.
Sometimes they’re twisted through various manipulations, sometimes they’re acoustic (which, for me, occasionally spoils the atmosphere because it reminds me of what I’m hearing, be it a high-hat, a balloon or whatever the five musicians are playing around with). Sometimes they reappear, sometimes they pop up in the blink of an eye or space between sounds, making you rewind and search for them again.
Sui Generis is as if an extraterrestrial sound bank met with field recordings from the planet Earth. You have it all; sounds you’ve never imagined are interacting with noises from your everyday lives, and sounds you just never thought of as existing are here for your ears to feast upon. However, if this is the strongest point of the record, then I find it to be its primary weakness as well. After half of the record has passed, you’re simply tired from the extensive variety of sounds. I don’t see myself playing this for entertainment, but more to explore and research it — to find and capture my own sounds and then use it for something else.
With Sui Generis, The Vultures Quartet and Schuyler Tsuda have created not so much a musical piece, but a sonic study instead. The album is certainly not something bad, but the lack of homogeneous direction and a more comprehensible and accessible concept makes this record more of a scientific artifact than an artistic one. It’s one of those things that could have lasted not one hour, but twenty-four hours or just three minutes, and you wouldn’t see a difference. So if you feel annoyed by the mundane nature of your own sonic environment, here is the remedy; it will surely help you reach a new state of mind and sense.
01) Narc by Accretion
03) Three Folds for Desmond Briscoe
05) Max Enrst in Arizona
07) Halo, Then Rhetor
08) Dead Hen at Ipatiev House