While stuck in a drive-through, I focused my frustration and boredom on two raggedy flags billowing at the whim of unseasonable wind. Intentional or not, these understated performances will continue outside that cannabis pharmacy for an indeterminate length sans score, ego or otherwise human intervention.
There are many artists, such as the duo of Phil Maguire and Tim Olive, who pull off similar "work" in that pressing play drops the listener into the middle of whatever was happening at that moment. And then the disc ends without arrival in any obvious harmonic or formal resolve. Their devotion to minimalism is achieved in the same nature-driven fashion as above: the figurative power button is always on; there is no prelude, and the development period is akin to sprouting seedlings or chemical interactions. As flamboyant as that underappreciated flag recital (which I found inspiring enough to write about), dynamic juxtapositions and interjections are rare inside this linear, river-like aesthetic.
Billed as Maguire on synth/electronics/mastering and Olive on magnetic pickups/electronics/architect of international collaboration — and label owner — this stew of grit and crumbles recreates the unseen mix of chugging, muted machines, inhuman micro-chatter, and structural vibrations one hears on solitary walks through backstreets of a city. The first half is a reverberant alley or open warehouse where the sound from a distant freeway mixes with a motor purring nearby; chirps and the sonic essence of a draining tub trade focus as the noise from another road disappears on the horizon. At times, you'll feel prostrate and semi-lucid in the backseat as someone drives around varied geography (you didn't do that on the way home from Grandma's?) "Invoer 3" is realized as a small and steady trickle of blips and fizzling Morse code. Though bubbling with activity, the feeling is still a tenuously animated object reacting on itself, which here sounds like the amplified last words of a motherboard. The finale gives the impression of multiple engines powering down in the middle of a burning field.
The one exception to the insular texture is a recurring "knock, knock, knock, knock, knock" popping up throughout the entirety. It's at first odd as it tends to comparatively get in your face simply by being the only repeating figure. Further in, however, it becomes a mysterious, grounding hook. Reading about Maguire's methods employed when not strapped to a Buchla, he is very keen on improvising with simple loops inside both Max/MSP patches that do "one or two things" and a modest Raspberry Pi. He also does not own speakers and has mixed to headphones for most of his career, which appears to provide a significant role in producing interesting tiny timbre.
Throughout Invoer, Maguire and Olive balance being a fly on the wall — or a green snake breathing and sunning while camouflaged on a pile of fronds — and considering whether to react or let what they started slow roast. Despite the bleakness many would assign the above-mentioned scenarios, the album is an immersive landscape whose unobtrusive goings on and endless faint variations make for a marvelous and inviting Deep Listening experience.
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