Music

Derek Piotr Clears His Digital Throat

Photo: John Keon / Courtesy of the artist

Derek Piotr's Grunt isn't so much about the sound as it is about the spirit of the noise.

Grunt
Derek Piotr

DPSR

28 September 2018

The word "grunt" comes across as rather guttural and primitive. People use it to describe utterances that are the polar opposite of articulate. The aesthetic of a grunt is simplistic, organic, and probably the last thing anyone would use to describe heavily processed electronic glitch music. The music that sound sculptor Derek Piotr makes comes from an unrecognizable future where two robots are experiencing a communications breakdown through a million light-years of fiber optic cable.

On first thought, a more fitting title for Derek Piotr's latest collection would be Glitch rather than Grunt. But when you step back and take a look at the nature of the album -- 21 tracks spanning 35 minutes -- this caveman utterance suddenly doesn't seem all that ill-fitting. Not only are these pieces very brief, but they sometimes change direction completely before they've concluded. Hit it, quit, on to the next one. They are, for our purposes here, miniature digital grunts.

With the exception of the final track, everything on Grunt lasts from half-a-minute to two-and-a-half minutes tops. The last track is a remix of "Redirect", a number that appears early in the album. Remixed -- or, rather, re-directed -- by fellow noise artist Kevin Drumm, it lasts well over three minutes and rests on a soft bed of static. If that strikes you as a bit of a paradox, then prepare yourself for the briar patch that is Derek Piotr's music. Sounds, be they natural or artificial in origin, interrupt one another like subatomic particles on a high-speed collision course.

Sounds that you thought would simulate a voice or a violin (see tracks like "Voice I", "Voice II", "Violin I", and "Violin II") have been distorted and mangled beyond recognition. One in a while, Piotr even nails down a groove, as he does on "Despot". Sure it's disjointed and takes longer than most standard beats to loop, but a pulse is there, and you can almost tap your foot along with it.

There is a guest vocal appearance from Forest People Pop on "Pure", but it goes by so quickly that you might miss it if you aren't paying attention (all told, less than 60 seconds of the track). For there, by the grace of glitch, goes another grunt. Without Kevin Drumm's remix, Grunt just barely clears the half-hour mark. But overall length, the length of the tracks, and the names of the tracks are all rather arbitrary.

As is the case with some of Drumm's releases, you are listening to an entire album rather than a collection of songs. Your mind is far more likely to process Grunt as one bulging collage of sound rather than 21 little pieces. And as far as sculptures of noise are concerned, this one is equipped with all of the hypnotic powers of its contemporaries. To say that Derek Piotr has a reached a point of transcendence is an overestimation, but it's not an exaggeration to say that he's at least pointed in that direction.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Music

Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.