In an interview with French site Hartzine, the body behind the excellent US tape label Aught said: “This series of tapes is finite, one will soon be able to deduce the remainder of our release schedule for the time being.” Looking at its releases now it appears that that finite number is 10, with the second half of the label’s lifespan – if that’s not a misnomer – mirroring the first. Xth Réflexion and ACI_EDITS both supplied repeat entries, and now, a year on, De Leon has (or have) done the same. It follows that Topdown Dialectic and Elizabethan Collar will come in due time, in that order, and thus the label will collapse on to itself, like a piece of paper folded over and filed away for posterity.
The label’s communications are sparse and direct: “We’re not attempting to aestheticize mystery, nor would it be too difficult to identify us,” they said, in response to a query that there might be a big reveal at the end of the project. “We’re attempting to provide as direct an interface with the content as possible.” Of course, this direct approach leaves room for conjecture, as discussed when we covered De Leon’s self-titled tape for the label last October. So let’s stick with the content. The source material was recorded in new sessions at the same Gamelan studio early this year, but “06” follows on from where “05” left off. It’s more percussive than melodic, as rising rhythms gather pace, pushing forward and pulling back with energising throm. It appears unvarnished, untreated: a live percussive performance presented with minimal additional effects. Appearances can be deceptive, and the relative clarity may mask untold tweaks and edits. “07” seems muffled and foggy, sounding almost like the half-sound one finds when the earplug is half pulled out of its socket. Soft melodies and dank metal lurk in the distance while off-beat tom slaps pulse throughout. “08” feels similar in tone and mood, yet rushes off at a bristling tempo, hurtling forward with its rattling percussion before drifting away suddenly at the five-minute mark. “09” is deeper, darker, slower. More rattles, sounding almost like a ruler being slammed on a table; coughs and sighs, muted, roughshod bass. The final track does not offer closure of any grand statement, just more of the insistent drumming that filtered throughout this project.
The downside to anonymity is that there is evident talent on display, perhaps unknown musicians whose work has been taken (willingly of course) and reformulated. Who are they? Those looking to expand their knowledge of gamelan and other such metallophonic music would do well to follow Wonja’s Wood Glass Metal series, with its two stunning entries to date, since this route is a dead end rather than a launching pad. The tapes available directly from Aught sold out in 26 hours all the same – not bad for a label with no press plan that makes contact through direct messages to its 300-odd followers. What happens next? We await the final two entries (if our hypothesis is correct, of course) and then perhaps we will see a new venture. Thgua, perhaps, in the spirit of mirroring. We’ll be watching.
De Leon – /\\08 is out now on Aught. Buy here.