Shout me a beer and ask me about databending. I will gratefully drink your booze and gladly have a conversation, but I know next to nothing about the subject. Nevertheless, I will drunkenly wax lyrical about the beauty of imperfection in music: dirt, distortion, taints, and blemishes. I love it all. And therein, of course, lies the attraction. In art and music of all persuasions, we love it when people destroy the medium; when they use tools in ways they’re not designed to be used; when they trample the materials with which they’re working.
There are truckloads of genres whose primary purpose is to scratch that particular itch, and ‘Pixel Hexing’ adds to the list. Bicephalic Records’ audio-visual compilation brings together noise and experimental music, databending and experimental video on one impressive DVD. I am only familiar with a couple of the contributors—Regosphere and Third I—but all twelve put in a fine showing. I couldn’t say how many tracks made use of actual databending techniques—most commonly using software or hardware to process incompatible files or media—but the intention is clear throughout.
It’s a diverse outing, opening with the complex glitch and stutter of Raul Dominguez & Miguel A. Garcia’s ‘L’oeil du Silence’, matched with similarly jarring abstract visual manipulation. The release really hits its stride with the heavy jump-cut noise of Muckrackers’ following track, matched with impressionistic visuals sharply tracked to the peaks and troughs of the music. The two openers highlight one of the release’s pitfalls, however, in that they make up only a handful of tracks in which obvious care has been put into ensuring the visuals and the audio fully complement each other. Less strong are those tracks where they work with each other only coincidentally.
Some of the ‘cleaner’, more considered tracks also stand out as personal favourites, such as CihanLucia (Taylan Cihan & Andrew Lucia)’s ‘I Don’t Recall’. It makes extensive use of high-frequency tone and peripheral audio, reminding of Ryoji Ikeda’s best, and juxtaposes what appears to be the shifting visual noise of television static with images of neurons—very nice. Rounding it out, Andrew Quitter brings a characteristically assured close to the release with Regosphere’s ‘Beneath the Sheath’: morose VHS manipulations, electronic smear, and plodding kick drum beat. This is an exceptional effort from Quitter, as always.
On the whole, there’s a strong impression that most of the artists here are much more comfortable with making music than they are with working with visuals, so there are a couple of misses. Nevertheless, this is a strong release with many highlights. It’s a tall order to match noise and experimental music with visuals outside of a live setting, and Bicephalic Records have done an exemplary job.
01) Various – Begin
02) Raul Dominguez & Miguel A. Garcia – L’oeil Du Silence
03) Muckrackers – Composition Dynamique Agitee 85, 87 & 89
04) Loopool & Zara Kand – Star Fall
05) Kelly Donovan – History Eater
06) Nipple Stools – Smigg
07) Taylan Cihan & Andrew Lucia – I Don’t Recall [Amarcord 2]
08) Third I – Glitch Piece 07
09) Carl Kruger – Post Irene Freak Folk Glitch
10) Meat Hands – Muzzle
11) Somnaphon – Enesate
12) Regosphere – Beneath the Sheath
13) Various – End