If -ness denotes the quality, state or character of an abstract noun, then what is ond? An abstract abstraction, perhaps. An empty signifier, signifying nothing, on to which the reader can project whatever they so choose. Confounding meaning further is the title of the latest release from Bruno Silva’s ever-busy Ondness project, Them Corja, on Barcelona’s Paralaxe Editions. Corja is the Portuguese for gang, and this bilingual title seems bereft of specificity, in a netherworld between meaning and obfuscation.
“Rod Serling’s Predator”, named after the famed Twilight Zone writer (and perhaps a nod to Silva’s Where To Now? release A Poor Man’s Twilight Zone), feels like a bevy of digital instruments tuning up, an imagined orchestra grinding and whirring into place, its disparate elements dancing about in the mix like a computerised circus. In later moments a wavy, Geogaddi-esque synth line appears amidst the gentle clamour, hinting at melody yet never keen to settle in any particular groove. The beginning of “Ghost Traffic” feels all wrong, as if the headphone jack hasn’t fully been plugged into its socket. A muffled, submerged cash register clanks back and forth setting a tone of confusion and pointless repetition. Fittingly, ghostly bass kicks and incessant drones add to this uncertainty, rhythm again foregone in favour of pause and refrain. Deep air-raid sirens and far-off heraldry lend pomp and anxiety, a kind of dank alarum suggesting imminent unrest. Thrilling, if muffled rhythms finally appear on ‘Skaters’, accompanied by a theme that feels playfully carnival-esque, a strange mish-mash that is utterly in keeping with this unpredictably arranged release. “Evan Parker Shakira” flirts with straight-up drum patterns at the death, yet chops up and echoes their inclusion, samples deftly placed in the mix rather than appearing organically. While these tracks and this release feel whole in their construction, this is a simple manouevre that reminds us of the nature of their assembly. Swirling, delayed winds surround us, melodies hover, bass murmurs, leading us to a jarring conclusion.
Where Silva’s Absolute Elsewhere for videogamemusic featured all the elements above, it did so in a more fragmented fashion, each track focusing on a single point, denying cohesion in favour of the disparate. Them Corja‘s success comes from how complementary these elements are together, the CMYK to Absolute Elsewhere‘s reductive RGB. Simply put, this is the most engaging and intriguing release from Ondness since the beautiful Pelas Margens (The Banks) on the German Noorden label.
Ondness – Them Corja is out now on Paralaxe Editions. Buy here.