CD, Medusa Music, 2009
As far as drones and experimental electronics are concerned, Francesc Martí excels. “Reflections” is this Barcelona artist’s third release under the moniker RMSonce. Rather than being an indulgent drowning in monotonous layers of analogue drones and abstract, sampled noise, the nine-track album keeps us guessing from the moment opener “Schrödinger’s Cat” curtails its presumed trajectory so abruptly as to be startling. Generally accessible, short-format compositions make “Reflections” a good choice for the inquisitive, but perhaps too concise for the connoisseur in pursuit of detached, infinite spaces. Here is no forced surrender to unwieldy epics of grinding tones and feedback atmospheres; listeners are instead invited to follow RMSonce through a fuzzy micro-realm of unexpected shifts and patient unfolding – a commendable diversity.
Take, for example, “Saturday Morning”: prickly at first, it translates into ambient resonance with a hypnotizing pattern of clicks; the noise is then gradually reprised like a wall of insect chatter. As with several compositions on the album, its sudden end is perplexing, again capitalizing on our anticipation. Yet as jarring as this might seem, it makes sense in the context of “Reflections”, which, despite the noise and blustering machine iciness, turns out to be emotive and surprisingly gentle. This might be noise, but it’s not too serious. RMSonce focuses on insertions, sounds slipped alongside or thrust atop backgrounds of rich, textured drones and atmospheres, while somehow avoiding the contrived cut-and-paste architecture of many sample-based releases. Field recordings do ornament “Reflections” in numerous ways, though their function is overall integrative, not decorative. Nothing seems out of place, and the glitchy pops, crackles and clicks that pepper these tracks are as natural and organic as growths filling existing cracks and holes. The enthusiastic treatment of jazz samples in the final track (“Jazz, Drugs And Some Distortions”) is not to be missed.
“Reflections” is notable in its movements and repetitions, patterns that emerge or fade, melodic undertones, sporadic normalcy, even concrete cadences and beat structures. “Sky, Stars and a Woman with a Battery” begins with chopped drone breaths and closes with an aggressive breakbeat loop splashing through the steady inundation of noise. Ethereal, short-lived “Clouds” offers tender and abrasive contrasts in soothing repetition, similar to the lengthy and stirring title track, where airy strings introduce a drone like an angelic void, the intensity of which brightens and diminishes in turns. The latter’s spaciousness is something most other tracks miss, instead being more shortsighted in scope, perhaps the greatest drawback of the release. However, the scaled-down bedtime microcosms of “Lullaby in a Night of Radioactive Fallout” reassure with a little glitch tune that expands to include resonant tones in well-paced melodic intervals. Despite its fleeting nature, it is precisely this structured attentiveness that makes “Reflections” worthwhile.
— Dutton Hauhart