Review: Zoë Mc Pherson: States of Fugue (SFX)

A rousing body of hybrid techno-artistry for a multiplex of listening.

Berlin-based multimedia artist and producer Zoë Mc Pherson initially emulated a forward-thinking experimentalism with her debut album String Figures, which worked not merely as just a listening piece, but a portal into a multimedia platform of live AV shows and films, focusing on the timeless duality of the string as an instrument. Continuing with an avant-garde sentiment of re-creation, in this case, exploring the liminality within dance, States of Fugue is Mc Pherson’s latest project, inaugurating her label SFX, curated with fellow artist Alessandra Leone.

Adventurous and elusive, the album is a comprehensive dive into ‘electro-naturalism’, manipulating her own vocal work as an instrument for glitch-rife glossy soundscapes. The result is a rousing body of hybrid techno-artistry for a multiplex of listening. McPherson’s recent recorded work includes collaborations with the classical experimentalist Rupert Clervaux and composer Christina Vantzou. 

Mc Pherson’s energy on the new material is palpable, toying with the listener in a humanistic way. Take ‘GROWTH (Monk Report)’, the serene glow of Mc Pherson’s vocal work coincides with an abrasive kick drum in a reverent piece of thoughtful dance. Blending foggy soundscapes with a glitching pulse, the ambience moves with an implosive energy.

There are other moments in which Mc Pherson’s voice is used virulently as a tool for kinetic energy; on ‘GET IT?!’, the vocals are cut and scrambled to unnerving heights. ‘TENANCE (Dogs Road)’ works as a fluid techno piece, operating frenetic kicks and snares, chopped tentative shouts and field recordings that contrast organic sentiments with techno tropes. The explosive ‘Learn Your Language Faster’ blends industrial noise, an unforgiving bass-line and the tentative vocals of improvising lyricist Elvin Brandi. A storm ensues on the remarkable ‘POWER FLUIDS (pitch-less)’, beginning as a harrowing look into reverb and sound distortion which mutates into a poly-rhythmic slice of ghostly techno. 

Zoe McPherson’s outing is a fearless rethinking of the imaginary power of electro-naturalism. States of Fugue mercilessly concedes itself to the power of hybridity with a fearless dive into the possibilities of vocal distortion and the perimeters of dance.

States of Fugue is out now on SFX.

Words: Esme Bennett

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