Padna "There are so many fish in heaven, Pt. IV" CD-r
Here’s another chapter in the story of unintended consequences becoming what shapes new paradigms. Across all human endeavor- and even life in a biological sense if you want to invoke some Darwin- malfunction is that double edged sword that usually ruins your day, but every so often will clear an unforeseen path to a new vista.
Think of the many musical don’ts that someone’s ears found interesting when others ran: feedback, manipulated tape, circuit bending, lo-fi recording, autotune, The Shaggs. Someone heard wrong as right. In that vain, anyone familiar with a skipping CD (and guaranteed “this is the remix” quip) or grew up on Max Headroom knows glitch. Call it avant-shard.
While glitch has been around for a while and can count locked groove records as a clear ancestor, there’s still something a bit radical about music that springs from cut and scuffed pitted polycarbonate surfaces (or software used to simulate same). Is technology being advanced or subverted here? Or in this instance are advanced and subverted synonymous?
Padna’s “There are so many fish in heaven Pt. IV” is a thrilling release because composer Nat Hawks takes glitch out of its usual post-IDM world and moves into more drone-y, trippy, strange, and colorful displays of multiplying sound-bits. Even though- or maybe because- Padna isn’t exclusively a glitch artist, on this release he shows amazing acumen for layering and panning sonic gravel into gold.
As expected, there is an undeniable percussiveness to the sound, but there are very few “beats.” With everything coughing, sputtering, and backfiring at different rates it just becomes sound. Padna comes full circle; shaping clean tone into choppy skips which are collected and woven into a field of jumbled static.
At times the music is a touch anxiety-inducing. It gives the impression that something is multiplying out of control or equipment is hopelessly busted and beginning to smoke (glitching, after all, usually means something is wrong). But for every tense moment is an instance where the glitch is ground so finely it becomes what is essentially a drone. The fan blades spin so quickly you can’t see them.
In the inside sleeve Hawks lays out his M.O.- starting from a single guitar track, “I found a scratched copy with all these great skips. I catalogued the skips and recomposed them into TASMFIS, Pt. II. A year later I scratched a copy of that, catalogued the skips, and composed Pt. III. This year the process repeated again for this release. This’ll probably be the last one.”
As opposed to analog source material, copies of copies don’t result in more distortion. Instead they add more complexity. With no significant decay during replication the technique could go on forever, swarming with sound but moving as one mind, like a humming hive or a school of fish in heaven. 8/10 -- Mike Pursley (2 June, 2010)