Rhythm is music’s equivalent of a heartbeat, of sound placed in precise patterns along an arc of time, a life. Minced Oath’s new album, Supervene, offers up several variations of these beats, patterned grids and grooves but uses them as the framework to drape and overlay strands into a form of sonic bungee jumping.
Perhaps only hindsight will reveal the true picture, but it’s hard listening to new music these days without thinking about how much 2020’s world woes have shaped both musicians and their audiences. Minced Oath is one of Dublin based Dunk Murphy’s projects (alongside Sunken Foal) and is the home he’s created for his more ambient work. Except, most tracks here could easily, in another version of this shitty year, form the basis for driving and thumping electronica, the stuff you hear in cool bars and nightclubs – remember them? However, as we all know, socialising, and much of our communal activities have be curtailed into a more intimate form of introspection and if you are lucky – chilling. Supervene is perfect for this – a high-definition journey from crisp rhythm into smudged abstraction.
Ancestral Let Down forms out of oily pools, hand drums and snatches of radio chatter into an ever widening panorama whilst COYBIG slowly corrodes into melting digeridoos. Pig Tails circles around tight clusters before cutting itself adrift in a huge warm bank of droning layers. Dubby reflections bounce around Damp Chamois as the whole thing expands and contracts in menacing slabs.
Each time, we start with focus and delight in a slow precise collapse, but the 8-minute Biopic Plot Point Bottleneck begins what feels like the album really settling into a clattering perfection. Woodblock and clanking electronic vocal fragments gravitating around an atmosphere so thick, it could be sliced. At the point it feels like reaching a peak, the gears smudge into a mechanised soup and trail off into loose threads.
The brief title track, Supervene looms in like sunbeams threading through perforated metal, gently moving as the earth spins onward. Prison Issue Pillow is perhaps the most clearly rendered track but quickly, the woozy undercurrent rises through the whole zone into a vast rippling psychedelic wave. The marriage here between bright foreground rhythm and a thick lysergic gravy is as beautiful at it is stunning.
Switzer’s Window twists around more dubby edges before it ruptures and deflates, releasing fragments of Wurlitzers. The Nettle And The Damage Done meshes sharply definitely vectors together into agitated forms whilst huge muddy pulses thrash through the twisted eruption of Belson’s Crankshaft.
The 7-minute closer, Use The Bones As Handles dances around polished peaks of focus, opening up voids of agitation. As the whole grows larger towards some form of climax, the thought occurs that this album’s strength is that it thrives in the zone between zones.
The entire album delights in the midpoint between forward momentum and drift. No one wins because it’s not a fight, each extreme just showcases itself in some headphone symmetry bliss out. Perfect to brighten up your day…
Supervene is out now on countersunk