Fluorescent Grey: Gaseous Opal Orbs
Record Label Records

In recent years, brazen provocateur Robbie Martin has attracted more notoriety for his controversial stunts than his Fluorescent Grey musical output. A while back, Martin released his music over Soulseek under the guise of the newest Autechre album Untitled, thereby tricking some fans into believing that his own music was by Booth and Brown (Coil and Throbbing Gristle have also been targets of similar tomfoolery). Even more contentiously, after the first Iraq war-related hostage beheading video was made public, Martin partnered with Ben Vanderford (aka The Great White Hype) to create a simulated hostage decapitation video and put it onto Kaza and Soulseek; not long after, the Associated Press declared the video to be authentic, a media ruckus predictably ensued, and Martin did the media rounds to address the controversy.

Perhaps irrevocably damaged by psychedelic drug experimentation and subsequent to a psychiatric hospital stay, Martin released Lying On The Floor Mingling With God In A Tijuana Motel Room Near A Veterinary Supply Store in 2006 and now offers up its sequel Gaseous Opal Orbs. Deriving sounds from sine wave tones, white noise, the Super Nintendo sound chip, digital physical modeling, and pure synthesis, Martin's latest material is as queasy as the brain-addling abstract imagery crowding the release's insert. More precisely, Gaseous Opal Orbs' music is viral in character as multiple tendrils infiltrate invasively and spread throughout the bodily hosts of the album's nine tracks. It's also generally twitchy music that Martin stabilizes with near-conventional beat rhythms to a far greater degree than his amorphous previous outing. Such dense and detailed music can induce exhaustion over the long haul; wisely, Martin shifts stylistic gears with almost every track which prevents the album from grounding to a stylistic halt. “Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum” opens the album with squelched noisemaking and flagellating beats translating into hyperactive booty-shaking. “Ayhuascaro Empyreal” presents a predictably frenzied electroacoustic drum circle of bells, congas, timbales, while “Teleological Attractor” burrows into a quieter micro-sound universe of chattering organisms. Dub rhythms get a workout (“Palette Swap Dub”), and a diseased gamelan spirit infests mallet percussion melodies “Physically Modeled Theme for Children.” There are missteps—the merging of Celtic woodwind and fiddle with turntables and breakbeats in “Celtic K-hole” verges on indigestible—but the collection is generally interesting enough to keep one listening until the end.

March 2008