Anton Mobin has adopted a self-described “lo-fi approach” to microphones and objects, which he arranges in constructions he calls “prepared chambers”.
Mobin’s partner in ATTR ACT, Riipus plays prepared acoustic guitar with, he says: “no rules, except: every change or preparation on (the) instrument must be temporary and should be done and reverse(d in one) action,” although he does allow that: “The guitar may also be played in traditional way.”
Mobin’s recent recording with violist Benedict Taylor, Stow | Phasing (Raw Tonk Records) packs a rawly emotive charge, and snippets of online video show that he can be a physically energetic performer, but ATTR ACT’s Live at Santa Maria (Antithesis) documents a thoughtfully sustained interrogation of small sounds and fine-grained, ever-shifting textures.
Mobin and Riipus met in 2010, bonding online over a shared interest in home-made instruments, tapes and improvisation. A file-sharing collaboration produced “some short pieces of avant-garde music” that are slated for release on Benedict Taylor’s CRAM Records at a future date. A face-to-face meeting over two days in Paris in March 2015 yielded enough material for a self-release cassette, which is also due out “soon”. Then came the concert at Santa Maria Chapel in Acqui Terme, Italy, where the present album was recorded. It’s immediately evident that by this date the duo had perfected a distinctive style of sonic friction welding, by which tensile sound connections are forged with no undue exertion of pressure or energy.
The set is presented on CD as it was played live. The first track, “Enterodia” (23:39) was the main piece of the concert, with “Syncope Vitrée” (04:46) its spontaneous coda. “Abat-court” (05:41) and “Archéonome” (09:25) were both encores.
The pleasure of this music lies in the grit and grain of its many small incidents in fleeting contact sounds and raw sonic textures, as well as the duos’ ear for pleasing juxtapositions, abstractions, and abrasive elisions. Taut, sonorous sprung sounds blend with hollow, gong-like vibrations or sintir-like strung wire twangs, while contact-mic’d sonics of sandpaper roughness bleed into electrical static. None of these sounds persist for long, but their aggregation suggests a structural integrity that holds its own form.
“Syncope Vitrée” is the most agitated and aggressive-sounding of the first three pieces, energised by regular, muffled percussive sounds and a semblance of orthodoxy in Riipus’ de-tuned but inherently melodic prepared guitar. “Abat-court” then throws listeners the further concession of a rhythmic simulacrum contrabass twang, plus hints of fractured music box melodicism.
“Archéonome” admits more electronic or electric sounds to the mix, and is altogether more tightly-wound and mettlesome than the main set. There’s still a friable delicacy to the duo’s sound, but this piece sounds like the necessary release of subtle but slowly accumulated tensions.
Anton Mobin prepared chambers; Riipus guitar and objects.
Benedict Taylor and Anton Mobin – Stow | Phasing.
Buy Live at Santa Maria from Antithesis’ Bandcamp.