Freed from gatekeepers by the Internet and abetted by the century-long shockwave of Dadaism, musicians in this period of history can truly do whatever they want. The result of this is quantitatively overwhelming and qualitatively awe-inspiring.
But then dig down into the details and you’ll find things like Arvo Zylo‘s personal label, No Part of It. Here is one guy, somewhere in Chicago, quietly releasing music exactly as he sees fit. About half of it is Zylo, and half of it is someone else. All of it, though, is obscure to the music-listening public. This might even be by design:
“NO PART OF IT is a ‘private label’ of sorts, headed by Arvo Zylo in secret,” says the description box on No Part of It’s Blogspot page.
This type of sound art is peculiar even today—one human being making no concession to secondary editing, company policy, or even genre pedantry. One human being putting an unadulterated point-of-view on the global market, take it or leave it.
It’s wonderful to witness, but there is that question that never goes away: Is it any good?
Fortunately, yes, it is pretty good. A recording such as this CD reissue of Zylo’s 2008 cassette Hello Walls (also reissued on cassette in 2010) proves that he has the taste and skill to make his delivery of sui generis sound construction worth not only his own effort, but our attention as well. Appropriate to the disc’s title, Zylo layers sheets of found sound and electronic drones together to create wide walls of sound. Two of the three tracks on Hello Walls run at about half an hour, allowing the sounds to transform gradually such as in the case of the first track, “Body of Defective Memories”, or not much at all as in the case of the third track, “Phantom Decorum.” Both of these tracks create a sense of frozen time, as if waiting for something in a windowless room, which forces attention toward the details of the sounds. After a few listens, it is possible to stop waiting for something to happen and realize that it is all happening right there. Dissonant tones twine around each other and partially blot out long-crunching loops and uneventful field recordings, which in turn break through the electronics with an occasional child’s squeal or the whine of a bus’s break pads.
Sandwiched between the two longer tracks is a nine-minute piece of much greater complexity than its companions. There is still an unmistakable sense of immobility in this middle track, but there is also much more activity in it, with ample details mixed together and then smudged over.
The cover art for Hello Walls is an unusually adequate visual representation of the sounds on the disc. The barely more-than-nothing image on the front cover is almost a declaration of the desire to create something subtle and delicate rather than demand attention or impress the masses.
01) Body of Defective Memories
02) Hello Walls
03) Phantom Decorum