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Small Rocks Carbondating Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Mere mortals can make electronic music quite easily, yet to make something this...

Olli Siebelt 2002

It's an old saying that "There's a fine line between genius and insanity" and after diving deep within the audio output of one Matt Wand aka Small Rocks, I think we can safely say that Mr. Wand's passport is stamped and that he's been safely travelling between the two for quite some time now.

An ex-member of the cult band Stock, Hausen and Walkman, Wand has re-surfaced with another project on his Hot Air label. While his website URL may be, there's mothing simple on this CD. Instead Wand offers us a collection of experimental techno which sounds more like it was dissected and put back together again by Dr. Frankenstein rather than some Ibizian trance DJ.

Carbon Dating is a dark work, filled with granular loops which morph and sputter out in a million different directions, all overlaid with industrial noises, glitches, 4 bit synth chords and other random noises all cut and pasted together to form a complex series of loops and sequences. Mere mortals can make electronic music quite easily, yet to make something this complex and disturbing, you'd have to be from another place altogether.

"Rule Of Thumb" sounds almost primordial, as if a metallic jungle of metal trees came to life; it's stone elephants trumpeting their mating calls in the distance. "Some Minerals Have No Cleavage" takes on an old cheesy Hammond B3 loop and then promptly mixes in a building site. Einsturzende Neubauten would have been proud. "Carbon Dated", my favourite track here, begins with a puree of glitch and timestretched samples before rolling headlong down a hill, it's off-kilter jazz backbeat trying desperately to keep up. Don't even ask me about what's going on on "Martian Housing Crisis". This is the kind of music you would probably hear if the inmates took over the lunatic asylum disco.

While Wand was an integral part of Stock, Hausen and Walkman, this solo effort shows off not only his mastery of studio trickery in ways that were never really explored before. His approach is often like that of John Oswald yet instead of using other songs to form the basis of his plunderphonics, Wand uses the detiritus of machines.

"Carbon Dating" is without question one of the most interesting releases we've heard here in quite some time. It's disturbing, it's weird, it's ridiculously catchy and it's completely insane. Keep out of reach of children, but for the rest of you - go and find this at once.

Don't forget the straightjacket. You're going to need it.

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