signalsundertests – Review & Interview

“According to some scientists, aesthetic perception is a combination of memory and neural interference – the mind being simultaneously massaged with images from the past and confronted with confounding new sensations. If this theory were indeed true, Signals under Tests have all the potential of turning into one of the top newcomers in the Sound Art category this year. Their debut album “Live at Verbal Arts” (released as a free download on the Hippocamp Netlabel) presents a style that is at the same time recognisable and refreshing. Performing with utmost delicacy, their freely drifting, warmly grooving soundscapes are both meditative and stimulating, precisely organised and propelled by a surreal kind of dream logic. Fans of the drone genre will love how their minimal Guitar motives coalesce into shimmering impulse-textures, with the band basing their technique on the observation that “the relatively short sustain of plucked notes on an Electric Guitar can present limited scope in multiple speaker array performances”. Friends of Ambient works and Soundscapes should fall head over heels for the sonorous qualities and organic breath of these up to twelve minute long compositions. Jazz aficionados, meanwhile, are bound to applaud as the band infuse their dizzying mood streams with tender licks of bluesy timbres. As if that weren’t enough, this colourful combination is bound together by a conceptual foundation based – at least partially – on Arnold Schoenberg’s “Klangfarbenmelodie” (“Melody of sound-colours”). Even though Signals under Tests were only formed late last year, they already sound as confident and mature as any established act. Which is probably because two experienced players from the Northern Irish scene are hiding behind this moniker: Ricky Graham has built a career as a solo artist and a curator, while John King has excelled as a DJ. The juxtaposition of their distinct ideas and musical visions has yielded the purest of aesthetic propositions: Prepare yourself to be thoroughly moved and pleasantly confounded.”

Review by Tobias Fischer

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