v1984 – ‘Becoming (N)one’ (Glacial Industries)

Glacial Industries is a new/not so new label run by Paul Purcell, born out of the charred ashes of his previous project Glacial Sound.

In the space of just a few years, that label put out music by artists such as Rabit, Murlo and Sharp Veins, and brought Boiler Room to Ireland for the first time. This new iteration is perhaps a more subtle rebrand than could have been expected last year when Glacial Sound announced it was closing its doors after just five releases – but why the need for change at all when there was so much momentum building around the label?

The first release on the newly minted Glacial Industries is Becoming (N)one, the debut EP from Christopher Pak Ramos, aka Cleveland, Ohio producer v1984. A glance at his sparse Soundcloud page would suggest that he seems to have tumbled fully formed out of the ether – in fact he removed all his music from the internet in the run up to this EP, which represents a fresh start of sorts, both for him and for the label. Previously, you may also have (un)knowingly heard his insane OG Bobby Johnson remix doing the rounds, or caught him on Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones’ Fractal Fantasy project.

I don’t think I can even describe Becoming (N)one as deconstructed club music; it sounds so far removed from the club, let alone the floor. In terms of both structure and texture, it seems to split the difference between classical music, ambient soundtracks and the contemporary bass scene.

The title track begins with a tentative orchard of blossoming synths. In terms of setting the scene, it’s absolutely crucial for what comes next – namely a series of brutal scraping and sharpening noises that sound like a digital abattoir. They slice through and across the mix, cutting the synths to ribbons. The effect is that of a beautiful sculpture being put through the junkyard crusher.

This sense of rupture is something that drives the EP. On ‘Pre, Post, Pre(-lude) i’, what starts out as a doomy piano driven piece is pierced by these maddeningly bright synths, blinding as when strong sunlight shines off ice or snow. The clash between the organic and the digital is at its strongest here.

The EP’s best cut – ‘Crying Beneath The Surface Of The Ocean As The Sunset’s Rays Flicker Into The Indefinite Horizon’ to give it its full name – plays a similar trick. The garbled opening is somewhat uncomfortable, but it’s soothed by a choir of synths that sound like beams of light cutting through cathedral windows, destined to soundtrack nature documentaries on a far-flung planet. It evolves into the most purely gorgeous moment on the whole EP, and it’s in this moment, on a third or fourth listen, that I finally understand the decision to rebrand the label.

That’s not to say all ties to the past have been severed – in fact, far from it. ‘Pre, Post, Pre(-lude) ii’ is perhaps the most obvious point of connection to the older Glacial Sound material – largely due to its glossy grime sound palette, but also its (relative) sense of momentum. It sounds like the fragments of a puzzle that, if reassembled along with a few missing pieces, might resemble some otherworldly club banger.

‘Synchronised Joy and Sorrow’ is similarly abstract, and also has a sort of club aesthetic if you squint hard enough. Here the beautiful and the ruptured actually coexist in harmony – they feel meshed together, working towards the same aim rather than playing off contrasts/shock value, and as a result it lacks a certain tension that the other pieces have.

Becoming (N)one is undoubtedly an impressive release, but ultimately I’m not sure how often I can see myself returning to it. It’s something to admire from a distance perhaps, rather than fall in love with. I wonder if I’ve missed out on some of the nuances hidden in the track names and little vocal snippets – the overall presentation seems to hint at some underlying conceptual framework, but for the life of me I’m having trouble unravelling it. The EP is at its most rewarding when revelling in texture and pure sound, such as the overwhelming wash and crackle of synths that closes out the stormy ‘Birth of Venus’. Give yourself over to it and let the emotion flow.

Becoming (N)one is out now on Glacial Industries.

Words: Cosmo Godfree

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