Paul Fiocco: Torsions and Drifts

Western Australian sound artist Paul Fiocco currently may be better known for his work alongside Kane Ikin in Solo Andata, but Torsions and Drifts shows he's eminently capable of establishing a forceful presence in a solo capacity too. A sixty-six-minute collection of moody cello-based meditations (the cello played by Louise McKay) and field recordings-enhanced sound sculpting, the album holds one's attention with its prevailing mood of understated menace. Fiocco gives his darker side free reign in the macabre material, which, atmospheric and textural in the extreme, grows progressively more unsettling until it plunges deepest into Hades during its central pieces.

“Fingernails” opens the album with an aggressive, three-minute swarm of multi-layered cello tendrils, after which “Moonlight” presents the listener with fifteen minutes of spectral moodscaping that suggests a wounded creature dragging its chained limbs through the swamp as it trudges across the countryside. In “Approach to Kospasker,” choral voices, accompanied by whistling tones and insectoid clicks, intone as softly as murmuring winds. “Reddened Heirloom” embeds mournful cello playing within a funereal setting of church bells, clangorous noises, and other anguished sounds. A sense of derangement shadows “The Road to Abattoir” when guttural vocal sounds of some alien tribe appear amidst a viral mass of gloom and industrial noises. Not only is its title reminiscentof the Saw series, but the sound design of “Sever” likewise evokes the lethal threat of a mutilation chamber. The album closes with the title track where flies buzz over a rotting corpse, newly discovered in the forest's innermost depths, while chirping birds gaze upon the scene from branches overhead. Torsions and Drifts is the kind of album that may, in fact, be too much for some, so unrelenting is its focus on disturbed atmosphere. Anyone harbouring a suicidal thought or two could find him/herself gravitating even further in that direction following prolonged exposure to the album.

February 2010