Dauw finishes off the year with a release from an artist that has been on their radar for some time. That artist is Florida based Josh Mason who has been releasing works since 2010 on labels such as Digitalis Limited, Eilean Rec and Own Records.
“While in the beginning Mason his work was mainly based on guitar and tape experiments, it is now more centered around electronic music with special attention for detailed sound design and slowly evolving sonic narratives.“
Inspired by Billy Gomberg who suggested to him to have a book on hand at all times when making music to help with pacing, the track titles are references to page numbers in either Seneca’s “Letters on Ethics” or Epictetus’ “Enchiridon” with each track being a meditation on an idea that was inspired by these works on stoicism. Initially Mason had quotes from the two authors as track titles, but decided to instead quote page numbers from each book allowing listeners to investigate for themselves if they wish to.
“S38A” from the outset Mason dabbles in sun lit glitchy ambient tones that shimmer like heat coming of the pavement. There is a patient core throughout the track while snatches of broken sound filter in and out. Although definitely in the experimental realm of music there is somewhat of a rhythm or fragments of a rhythm that evolves throughout the piece, rather a random collection of sounds.
“S26” balances nicely electronic tones with rumbling light noise and an almost jazz like sound. Musically light in the sense that it is relatively free and open, it is more ambient orientated than the previous piece. The electronic tones glitch and then form longer drones before fading, while the rumbling static like noise builds slightly and the jazz section sounds like a distant horn wailing. Sometime when music is created with these types of sound it can be quite random, but you get the feeling that Mason is moving the listener through different territories within a larger narrative, which intrigues me to read the page of which the track is titled after.
“E491” a slow, gentle opening of glassy fragile tones that sound out of focus, as if you are getting to hear just a section of their qualities. The soundscape then fills up with a static ambience, darker tones and a moodyish feel. This moodiness could be a reference to the text or the feeling of the text as a book about stoicism is deadly serious and not frivolous.
“S41” sounding the most experimental of the tracks thus far, Mason conjures up sounds that feel like polar opposites. There are micro glitches, scraping sounds, pulses of air and electronics and warped soundscapes, all of which collide into a free form piece which could possibly reference a variety of points of views or confusion from the text.
“S51” a cavernous sound where sounds echo and fill out the soundscape. Pulses of static scatter about as the melodic glitchy tones flicker and start to break down. A percussive section of Feverish tones ring out with metallic clangs while drones that sound like distortion fill the air. Musically the dense the track has many layers which either flow over and around each other or jostle for position.
“S38B” feels like a pure glitch track that has been manipulated, buried in detritus, shaken clean and the result is a track that marries dirty, static, vinyl like crackles with rich vibrant tones that reach out from the mire. I can’t be completely sure, but sharing a similar title to the opener, I can’t help but think they are cut from the same cloth and variations of each other.
For fans of textural glitch meets ambient meets drone meets experimental. “L+” is released today, December 20 in a limited edition of 100 cassettes with original set by Femke Strijbol, a dried flower and on Digital as well. The ubiquitous Ian Hawgood provides masterful mastering as per usual.