CD-R, Afe Records, 2009
Not to be confused with the delicious Mexican almond and rice drink, Horchata is the field recording and drone laced creation brought to life by one of University of New Hampshire’s Complex System Research Center scientists named Michael Palace. Just like its milky namesake, when I hear the words ‘Acquired Taste’, Horchata’s “Acytota” springs to mind immediately. Indeed Palace’s Frankenstein compositions stitched together from bits of mutilated naturally occurring sounds recorded in South American rainforests, forlorn droning and regurgitated glitchcore are likely to alienate the casual listener. Conversely, I see this record heralded as the second coming of Christ by nerds who dabble in writing music using mathematical algorithms for fun and pretentious hipsters named William S.Burg who live on an auditory diet composed primarily of experimental “sound art installations”.
“Plasmid’s” sonic palette begins painting a pretty and organic picture which gradually morphs into a more sinister soundscape. As the track progresses rhythmic elements are introduced, creating uneasiness and tension. Like the forewarning of the close proximity of a ferocious jungle predator, “Plasmid” is a blind force of nature. Splendid and fearsome, even though it has no intentions of being either, it just is. The sixth arrangement titled “Non cellu lar” proves that a song needn’t be twelve minutes long in order to give your intended audience goose bumps. “Non cellular” in its distant coldness accomplishes in its three minutes and forty eight seconds what most dark ambient artists attempt to convey in fifteen minute epics too often consisting of nothing more than opening Atmosphere on their desktops, holding down two keys at the lowest audible octave and layering a drone underneath. Michael doesn’t take us down that familiar yawn-inducing route. Kudos, Mr Palace, Sir. On the other hand “RNA”s purposely rough around the edges gloomy ambiance leaves me wanting more than just two minutes and fifty four seconds. “Cosmid” builds a truly creepy atmosphere accentuated by mangled piano notes. While glitches and un-easy listening noises converge on “Prion” to form seemingly scrambled alien signals which prophesize imminent doom for all.
“Acytota” is a sixty minute powerhouse fashioned from juxtaposed synthetic and organic sounds that don’t fall prey to the clichés commonly associated with field recording. No mic’ed up trains, no thunderclaps and, thank fucking goodness, no waves crashing against a shoreline while sea gulls screech overhead. Horchata might not be the easiest flavor for your aural palate to digest, yet it’s precisely what differentiates it from the artists that suffer from terminal blandness. Drink up!
— Bea W.