A black box is a small orange contraption used by aircraft to record the logs, thoughts, words, and deeds of its pilots and crew. These black boxes survive even the most destructive crashes and provide insight—like a ghostly stethoscope—into a crew’s final moments. They live on after the people whose words they capture pass away. For some people, these recordings provide feedback to make sure such carnage never happens again, but for others, like the distraught family members, these clips haunt. Though I doubt these sounds could exist in this pattern again, Black Box Recordings, a collaborative 12” between Gog’s Michael Bjella and Micromelancolié’s Robert Skrzyński, certainly falls into the latter possibility.
Beginning with hand-made percussion—clapping—in a reverberating room, the record immediately treads more filled-out territory. A mix of instruments—electronic, acoustic, and organic—colors the duo’s sonic palate, expansive but not impenetrable, and keeps the record consistently varied, meaning there’s a palpable suspense to the record.
After the first two sparse but harsh tracks, Bjella and Skrzyński flip the script, exhibiting both a memorable moment and a wise transition. The third track, “Yes, the Enduring Classics,” presents the duo brandishing a bowed instrument that yawns and swells across six-and-a-half riveting minutes before sounds begin expanding, incorporating familiar mechanical noise with classical elements. This electro-acoustic approach, which occasionally dons the incredible title “slambient,” always makes noise sound less chaotic—and to the untrained ear (let’s face it, you need to have an ear for noise), it makes the music sound more thought-out. Realistically, structure has little do with with instrumentation, but lush instrumentation always signifies diversity in sound.
I want to talk about something this record does exceptionally well. Within a cursory listen—even to the sound of the first clap on the record—the listener is unmistakably transported to the place of recording. I can’t speak for all the tracking that was done for the record, but the emptiness that accompanies the sounds in a room—and you will know the ones I mean—are haunting. Natural audio has never sounded so lonely, so pining.
A1) Tearing Up
A2) Black Box Recording
A3) Yes, the Enduring Classics
B1) Homes in Paris
B2) The Brighter Side of Fucking History
Written by: Jordan Reyes
Instruments of Discipline (Germany) / IOD006 / 12″ LP, Digital
Cloister Recordings (United States) / CRUS18 / Tape
Noise / Musique Concrete / Field Recordings / Modern Classical