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Erdem Helvacıoğlu & Per Boysen – Sub City 2064

Erdem Helvacıoğlu & Per Boysen – Sub City 2064

CD, self-released, 2010

“Sub City 2064” – its title so perfectly evocative of its content – is a score without a film. This album, based in electronic and acoustic sound, and created through the long distance collaboration between Erdem Helvacıoğlu (Istanbul) and Per Boysen (Stockholm), is the upshot of their vision – to replicate “the cinematic vibe of a chilly sci-fi horror soundtrack”. Brought to realization with electric guitar, GuitarViol and drum machine (Helvacıoğlu), along with tenor saxophone, alto flute, EWI, Stratocaster and fretless electric guitar (Boysen), the album teems with reverberations of air and strings, masterful electronic processing and speculative atmospheres. “Sub City 2064” is imaginative off-planet urban fiction, filling the background of a noir anime series or manga storyboard. Encouraged by the effortless sonic renderings, like beads of narrative on a string, listeners will embrace the sensation of being transported somewhere unfamiliar, gritty and, at times, not a little ominous.
Since both artists are improvisational adepts when it comes to experimental electronics, especially in conjunction with acoustic instrumentation, it follows that the tracks on “Sub City 2064” are inspired by a series of synopses describing scenes, the words imparting direction and mood, which is then interpreted through sound. Take, for instance, the shift in “Legends of Lost Land” from (space) cowboy melancholia to back alley blues, with saxophone accompanying pitch-shifting guitar plucking. The imagery-rich album fluctuates between the ultra-ambient calm of “Harvesting Alga”, with accents like water droplets and deep humming background, to the heavy metal riffing of “Reef Edge Race”, an adrenaline-fueled compulsion, to the erratic layering and building over a detuned orchestra in “Pump Five Accident”, surging and quieting by turns.
“Sub City 2064” contains environments, or rather, the suggestion of environments, within which corresponding action is discoverable. The mise en scène painted here is more often subdued and introspective, itself practically motionless, moving the narrative forward but not necessarily embroiled in essential plot developments. Helvacıoğlu and Boysen present the notion that music – namely experimental, non-lyrical music – can recall a history and inhabit a place, its characters bathed in a mesmerizing sheen of flickering neon, the dampness of drizzling rain, or the soft glow of bioluminescence. The concept is a familiar one, yet “Sub City 2064” achieves it in such a convincing manner as to raise the bar significantly. At the end, soaking in the optimistic and brighter tone – the almost tropical feel – of “Future Wide Open”, we wonder who our protagonist really was, if this person faced trials alone, or bolstered by companions, and if that really makes any difference at all. Listen again, and re-visualize the story anew.


— Dutton Hauhart

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