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all those born must die

by jeff surak

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about

for all those born must die, we are introduced to a quarrelsome transmission of distorted sine waves that rapidly descends and crashes into a splatter of retrograde drum programming, think dome 3 or those highly fetishized synth work-outs from vanity records. rhythms gallop surge forward amongst seering blast of mid-range white noise. this is an electronic album of analogue synthesis. yes, it very much is; but to these ears, the impetus is a dada deconstruction on post-punk. radiantly neon tones, klanging electric ululations, stabs of jagged arpeggio, and mercurial ambience slide and slip through these off-kilter, radioactively unstable tracks, all of which belies surak's sophisticated application of recursive melody and rhythm.

consider conrad schnitzler '80s constructs, bruce gilbert's divergent experimentation, those tolerance records on vanity, and then, john cage's imaginary landscape for a proper amount of radiophonic patina. together such would land somewhere close to jeff surak's all those born must die.

credits

released November 19, 2021

Released by helen scarsdale label (California)
mastered by bob bellerue.

"Few albums I’ve heard come with such an alarming title as this work, the first from sound artist Jeff Surak for Jim Haynes’s Helen Scarsdale Agency label, though Jim himself would have hardly bat an eyelid at seeing yet another recording with a theme of decay, decadence and disintegration popping through his mailbox. Equally alarming is opening track “Western Sunrise”, a work of ear-splitting distorted sine waves that transform into a busy set of rhythmic throbbing splatter-noise wipe-outs amidst a background of whistle and white-noise ambience. Having got our attention in a big way, Surak lets “All Those Born …” settle down with a much quieter “In the Last Century the Tape Itself was Thicker” which has a much more definite sonic identity and structure as well as mystery in its introspective scratchy meanderings. An air of almost nostalgic longing seems to be present.

The album surprisingly ends up better behaved than the brash opening piece with subsequent tracks tending to be quite self-contained universes of strange noise, the individual components of which may not necessarily be related to one another or follow one another in a clear linear sequence. That the six tracks end up very different from one another, often absorbed in their inner worlds, is testament to Surak’s deft way of putting sounds, rhythms and droning pieces together. Even when harsh rhythms or clunky melodies are present, there is always an impression of the music occurring in a space and a time somewhat removed from our own, especially in one of the later tracks “Smaller than a Pack of Cigarettes” which early on has a 1950s or 1960s Space Age lounge ambience before it becomes grittier, darker and a little bit demented with out-of-tune toy jewel-box melodies. Perhaps the most unexpected piece on an album full of surprises is the closing track “Sounds which are Abscent” [sic], a work of near-silent drifting drone ambience.

It’s a work full of contradictions and highly individual pieces that, when put together, create a rich and multi-dimensional soundscape flavoured perhaps with nostalgia, even longing for a playful and innocent past. Starting with a bang, the album quickly settles down into a more sedate work before bowing out in a near inaudible way, though not without sudden spurts of energy from time to time, and that in itself might contain a warning for Western societies: in spite of renewed vigour at various points in our history, we’ll still end up going out in a whimper."
~The Sound Projector

"Surak is a musician who combines laptop technology with 'real' instruments and old synthesizers. In his work, he reaches for the ultimate high in volume (the opening feedback salvo's of 'Western Sunrise') to very quiet synth and field recordings. It is not uncommon that this happens within the space of one track. Even when Surak may use lo-fi equipment (small synthesizers, old vinyl, contact microphones attached to junk), he goes for the maximum result. By breaking up his pieces into distinct fragmented pieces, he connects his work with the world of musique concrete. The musical collage is a form that suits him well. I would think there is no story, just the beauty of sculpting with sound, and Surak does an excellent job here. There is tension, there is a mystery, and there is a beautiful uneasiness below the surface of it all. The label mentions Conrad Schnitzler, and I can see that in the rhythmical pieces, such as 'Smaller Than A Pack Of Cigarettes', which connects Surak with the world of non-keyboard electronics and through that with the erosion of musique concrete! Surak's music bounces all over the place as if it never wants to stay in one place, and yet that makes a very coherent album. "
~ (FdW) Vital Weekly

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zeromoon Washington, D.C.

Intelligent Noise Music of the non-entertainment genre. Netlabel, Cassettes, CDs, CDRs. Free improv, musique concrete. Black ambient metal. Field recordings, experimental electronics. Drones & Pop. Since 1983.

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