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2011/09/29 / monteurhulot

ALBUM // Ranvir Bassi – Cut Lip

Anyone who has visited O(h)rtlos more than once may have picked up on the fact that I take a certain pleasure in creating new recombinatory generic appellations, more often then not for their entertainment value than their ability to aid a reader in understanding the sound of a particular musical piece and its context. When it comes to an album like Cut Lip, however, it would seem wrong, even in jest, to attempt to give it a label. To say that it sounds like nothing else might be slightly inaccurate; it’s not as though it was created entirely from novel textures combined in completely novel forms, although as a whole it certainly does not sound much like any other album you’re likely to hear in 2011. Its unique character comes more, I think, from the fact Bassi is not trying to make something that fits into any category. Even the best and most innovative albums of the year are attempts to improve or bring new elements to a certain kind of music, or two combine multiple types: to create a yet-higher-caliber Indie Rock album, to integrate here some oddball Jazz, there some slanted thrice-removed Afro-pop figures, to find an entirely new kind of drone, or to create a track that is at once Dubstep, Footwork and Old-School Rave. Cut Lip is not any of these, or seemingly part of any other musical category, broad or hyper-specfic, and I find it difficult even to ascertain the traces of a failed attempt for it to be something else. It’s not pop enough to be synth-pop, too untied from any particular rhythm to be “IDM,” too present to be ambient, too unassuming to be avantgarde.

It, more than anything I’ve heard this year, simply is.

Bassi‘s most recent efforts, There are no maps to find me and No Fidelity, Dear Leader, were at times (the latter particularly) harsh, pummeling affairs, with roughly grained textures matched to relentless beats. Those sounds have not disappeared, but here that noise and violent is subsumed, contained, captured to be cut up, reappropriated and subordinated to other purposes. It’s as if the squall of those previous works is now being looked down upon from a great height, like the tempestuous atmosphere of the planet in Tarkovsky’s Solyaris, Bassi now floating above it in an alien craft, alone with a broken organ and a possessed, mutant theremin. It’s a deeply contemplative work, often dirge-like. The questions it asks are of how to respond, in art, to a chaotic world, when one is confined to materials and devices which never behave quite as they should. Not that Cut Lip is an album of frustration: there’s a sort of peace in the hour-long process of patiently bending the sonic palette towards an unclear purpose.

“me dying” most thoroughly embodies the themes of distant contemplation discussed above, while “in paris” is perhaps the most curious entry in Bassi’s catalogue: guitar snippets falling away from a vocal that sounds like a jaunty chanson melody, twice misremembered and sung from a cellar. “this is my family, dancing” also stands out, with its skittering percussion hits and ominous synth percussion.

Bassi’s is undoubtably a unique artistic voice, and arguably is one most fully exploring the particular ability that electronic music has, that of, by using tones and textures that do not correspond to physical instruments existing in the world, constructing a music entirely of imaginary referents. That Cut Lip sounds like nothing else may well be a sign that he is succeeding in that exploration.

Also, I may now have to try drinking absinthe and cocoa.

Well, go get it, it’s a free download.

t.

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