Surgeon - Breaking the Frame

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  • Listening to Breaking the Frame is not unlike going to an exhibit at which each of the displayed works occupies an entire wall. Each of these nine tracks is stark and enormous. Straight off, they announce themselves, and while each has a good amount of detail that you don't even have to listen very closely to notice, what's striking about them all is that those strong first impressions remain true the entire time each track plays. Two-thirds of the album is techno, but it's the other three tracks that define the album's tone, maybe because two of them open and close the album. "Dark Matter" kicks off with slow, pealing high notes that skirt "noise" and evoke the sun going down and the moon coming up over the monolith from 2001, while the finisher, "Not-Two," is musique concrète for the first minute or so—field recordings of an anxious gathering, from the sound of it—before segueing into a highly active slow-mo vocal-driven drone, like German electroacoustic pioneer Roland Kayn worshiping the Sun God. "We Are All Already Here," placed near the end, is a subtle industrial grind-drone. They give extra depth and dimension to a clutch of beat-driven tracks that have plenty to offer of their own. The blippy, percussive spray of fritzing synth timbres of "Remover of Darkness" could have come out of a mid-century audio lab, its beat situating everything rather than moving bodies. Surgeon's been here before, of course, but the work here is statelier than usual. On "The Power of Doubt," the big, deep drums and subs are very floor-ready, but it has a lustrous-greyscale deep-background feel, with fizzing percussion, that's epic in scope. It blows the cobwebs out by breathing deeply rather than by blasting you out of the room. Something similar applies to "Those Who Do Not"—it's muted, muffled techno working up to a pile-drive on a bed of slow-rise, high-pitched pads. "Radiance" is buzzy and heavily filtered, albeit with the sonic emphasis on the tones being processed rather than the actual processing itself; it can seem as if you're watching the scratch on a piece of film move across the screen, sometimes occupying a small width, other times taking over the whole frame. On "Presence," stringed instrument curlicues abound, but they clearly come from a dark and obsessive place. Not to mention a highly accomplished one.
  • Tracklist
      01. Transparent Radiation 02. Remover Of Darkness 03. The Power Of Doubt 04. Radiance 05. Presence 06. We Are All Already Here 07. Those Who Do Not 08. Not-Two