Photo: Hampus Högberg / Courtesy of the artist

Simon Fisher Turner and Klara Lewis’ ‘Care’ Is Where the Past and Future of Experimental Electronic Music Meet

Simon Fisher Turner and Klara Lewis explore the abstract side of electronic music through drone, musique concrete, and glitch progressions.

Simon Fisher Turner and Klara Lewis
Editions Mego
28 September 2018

Simon Fisher Turner has been around for a very long. Starting off in the early ’70s he has produced music under many different monikers, with the most famous being the King of Luxembourg, Loveletter and Deux Filles, and has been a member of the Gadget and most famously of the The. The common factor that defined his long career was the will to experiment and to push boundaries, no matter if that was done within an indie pop context, a post-punk paradigm, or a straight ambient music perspective. On the other hand, Klara Lewis is new to the experimental music field but has produced some very intriguing works. The daughter of Graham Lewis, of punk rock/post-punk icons Wire, through her two records, Ett and Too, has been exploring the intersections between IDM and musique concrete through the use of field recordings.

The common attribute of Turner and Lewis is their abstract thinking when it comes to electronic music, and it is where the musical structures of Care arise. Through this elusive mode of operation, the duo introduces the record in serene fashion, instantly grabbing your attention and submerging you into this realm of powerful atmospherics. The beginning of “8” features this subliminal bliss and crafts the scenery out of drone influences, which is one of the prime forces of the record. In this manner the track unsurprisingly titled “Drone” explores the impressive ambiances through subtle transformations of the soundscapes and aided by its circular progression and unchanging pace, the drones produce an otherworldly ambiance and make the track one of the highlights of Care. However, it is not always the case that the duo will not further tamper with the presence of these majestic sonic artifacts, and by manipulating their textures, they can add a more humane touch to this work, as is the case with closing track “Mend”.

However, the drone aspect is not the sole foundation of Care, with Fisher and Lewis diving happily into the musique concrete dimension. The faraway voices presented in “Mend” display one possible implementation of this motif, capable of producing a more emotional result to go along the strong, immersive ambiance. However, there is also a darker pathway that the duo chooses to implement and can produce more oppressive moments. “Tank” displays this mentality with the opening samples setting this stranger tone, while the sonic manipulation can travel to extremes and inject noise to the soundscapes. Even world music passages are presented, with the Middle Eastern interlude interrupting the concrete world composed of drones and noise. And it is this treatment of musique concrete, and of this record overall, that sees the brilliance of Fisher and Lewis shine.

While the drone and musique concrete aspects retain a fundamental position in Care, the progression takes a different route with the implementation of glitch techniques. At times this can make the experience of listening to Care mirror the reading of a Burroughs novel, as Fisher and Lewis erratically switch between modes and narratives in a non-linear fashion. The opening track sees this form take shape, resulting in a sonic collage process rather than a continuous rendition. All the components of the record are interchanged, creating this mesmerizing haze of elements that add a layer of unpredictability. It is also a contradiction with the overall minimalistic character that Care displays and even though it produces an abrupt and disjointed quality, it becomes an endearing aspect of this work.

For the duration of Care, Fisher and Lewis present an intriguing sonic journey founded on their use of contradictory elements. It is through the serene atmospherics of the record and the erratic progressions, the stunning field recordings and their mutilating processing that the duo unveils its abstracted concept of electronic music. It is a challenging ride but redeeming.

RATING 8 / 10