Gabie Strong – Spectress (2016, Crystalline Morphologies)
I have fortunately never found myself trapped in quicksand, but trapped in the throes of real, existing capitalism, I found a moment of postmodern bliss, not unlike (perhaps) sinking into the vast marshlands of my living room floor. In truth, I was not sinking at all, but rather listening Gabie Strong’s Spectress, one of her three 2016 releases on her own Crystalline Morphologies label, which was doing its thing in the cans, funneling into my cochleae. Comprised of two live cuts recorded in January 2016 in the vast wastelands of Southern California, Strong’s two performances showcase a brooding and symphonic dynamism and deep reverence for subtlety. For the passive or casual listener, the cascading guitar feedback which really hits its stride around the 9 minute mark on “Sunset Circuit” is likely to be imperceptible or “lost in the din.” But for those willing to submit themselves to the tune, these omnipresent sheets of sound —themselves engulfed in a sea of feedback— is a page torn from the rock’n’roll playbook. Pete Townsend eat your fucking heart out. This is heavy, but checks the corny metal shtick and rock pretense at door. The B Side, “Taphthartharath” is comparable in approach, yet vocals are much more apparent on this track. Strong’s artistic modus operandi sounds well defined, yet the nature of improvised musics leaves any elements of chance and risk wholly intact. For those who take interest in and truly appreciate sound as both a sensory phenomenon and as (sometimes) tractable art form, Gabie Strong’s latest spate of releases are a treat.