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


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

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.