- I've not been sleeping well, and KOCH isn't helping. Lying awake listening to this album, I feel its confidence—the work that has gone into creating this strange, private world—but also its anxiety. A nervous tick runs through it in the dark, the fidgiting of hallucinogenic exploration and great expeditions conducted entirely in the mind. Take a track like "Nueme," where the chords twitch and shimmer around a beat that's always threatening to congeal but never really does. This suspension makes the moments of impact—"Jove Layup" in particular—even more spectacular. These tracks have a genuine weight when they hit, like bodies colliding. They feel like concentrations of the diffuse energy that swirls through the other tracks, not a change of gear but a matter of shading.
Progression within the tracks, or even across the album as a whole, is far less important than how a texture feels at any given moment. The ever-present tape hiss, the way the bass blooms on tracks like "Head Model" and "Flatland," the ambient cesspool of "Frame Drag"—these are sounds that reward some wallowing. There's always something hidden further in the murk (if only you could wade a little deeper it might become clear). "Yehudi Lights Over Tottenham," filled with noise and hiss, discordant stabs, distant piano and almost subconscious kick drums, is the apex of this approach. Feeling warm despite its incongruous density, it's far from an unpleasant place to spend seven minutes. So it goes for the rest of the record: what begins as enigmatic or even alienating ends up familiar and welcoming.
A track like "Voxel City Spirals" gives the sense that Gamble works with his nose pressed against his material, so close and focused on the details. Still, he doesn't get lost in them, and is refreshingly unafraid to think, in a literal sense, about the bigger picture. Gamble's music to date has felt like it was made entirely by and for the head, like his thought processes remained scarred into the work itself, explicit and inescapable defining factors. His last two albums, Diversions 1994-1996 and Dutch Tvashar Plumes, were possessed of great feeling and ingenuity, but KOCH has something extra—a burgeoning physicality, an intuitiveness, a stronger blend of the body and the mind. Morton Feldman once wrote about watching Mark Rothko stretch canvas in his studio, trying to find "that particular scale which suspends all things in equilibrium." With KOCH, Gamble has found a canvas that's just the right size to fit everything on, to hold the whole beautiful thing up at once.
01. Untitled Reversion
02. Motor System
03. You Concrete
05. Oneiric Contur
06. Head Model
08. Frame Drag
09. Voxel City Spirals
10. Yehudi Lights Over Tottenham
11. Jove Layup