Mark Fell and Will Guthrie join forces for the second time this year with ‘Diffractions’, the 2nd in a two part series pushing deeper into percussive R&D informed/inspired by Gamelan and South Indian Carnatic musics. If you’re into anything from Autechre’s Confield-era abstractions to Milford Graves’ fluid drumming or even the insular soundworld of The Necks, this record it is.
Rhythm has always been central to Fell’s work, from his icy, repetitive minimalist excursions with SND to his legendary run of unashamedly funked abstract house experiments as Sensate Focus. Here, he continues to excavate that rich seam with an ongoing collaboration with Aussie percussionist Will Guthrie; “Diffractions” pushing both artists’ interests into sharper detail, toying with polyrhythms and unusual tuning to uncover a suite of transformative fidget spins and sonic storm clouds.
“Diffractions” features another two lengthy pieces of future-facing percussive abstractions that blur the line between synthetic and organic. Taking the influence of gamelan and fusing it with the heaving computer music that Fell has obsessively picked-at over the last four decades, the duo here zoom into a sound that’s almost effortlessly engaging; each piece is almost twenty minutes in length but they shift and mutate into polyrhythmic outer-realms and eerie universes of microtonality that are hard to fathom in one sitting.
There are trace echoes of free jazz hanging from the rafters, the post-everything chatter of Humcrush and Food drummer Thomas Strønen’s mind-expanding solo material or even Autechre at their most confounding. The genius here is that just when you convince yourself that this music could only possibly have been generated by a computer, Guthrie’s unmistakably human flex edges into focus - playing with your perception - your expectations - in the most bold, innovative way imaginable.