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Wanda Group - Ornate Circular

Wanda Group - Ornate Circular

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Wanda Group valiantly returns for their third release on NNA Tapes. Since the project’s debut “Bass Urine” in 2011, Louis Johnstone seems to have worked diligently to eradicate all traces of traditional “music” from his work, leaving behind only the acousmatic sounds of life itself. The 2013 NNA LP “A Slab About Being Held Captive”, his recent digital releases on his own imprint Umbro G, and most recently the “We All Mutate Around The Mountain” LP on Italy’s Second Sleep label have all been further evidence of this musical deconstruction and deepening journey down the rabbit hole of musique concrete.

Wanda Group’s brilliance is demonstrated through the use of juxtaposition of multiple levels. Johnstone’s recurring use of liquid, aqueous sounds are paired with the stifling hiss of room recordings, pitting oceanic vastness and claustrophobic confinement against each other. The muffled sounds of distance clash with magnified texture, giving birth to a palpable dynamic tension. The warm organics of tapping, squeaking, shuffling, scraping, and other sonic by-products of human physicality’s interaction with its surroundings are paired with the eerie coldness and faceless sterility of electronic frequency detritus and mechanical noise pollution. The result of all this constant friction is the atmosphere of anxiety and dread that has become a signature of the Wanda Group sound world.

Although “Ornate Circular” seems to be constructed from various tape and field recordings, electronic signal processing, radio interference and digital effects, Wanda Group refuses to make these elements the emphasis of the work or give any clues as to their origin. What Johnstone presents us with instead is purely the creative manipulation of the sounds of earthly existence, void of context or traditional musical structure. His masterful use of layering and composition gives the work a deeply personal expression of abstract sound, perhaps meant for the artist alone to fully know the meaning behind. As humans, it is our nature to want to assign a reality-based narrative to sounds we cannot see the source of, but Wanda Group denies us this through the complete deconstruction and rearrangement of everyday sounds, creating a totality of abstraction which nullifies context altogether.

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