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Exceptional DVD from Dead Faders John Cohen of experimental drones and visuals from Glasgow's fast rising Broken 20 label. Well crafted and well limited.
John Cohen, one half of Brighton noise antagonists Dead Fader, unleashes his solo audiovisual release Tar River, a 40 minute plus mediation on, as he puts it, alien landscapes, science fiction and underwater filtered music. Comprising a DVD release as well as a standard digital audio album, Tar River is an epic, rewarding listen, frequently jolting the listener to attention with unexpected squawks and dissonant peaks, but it also contains droning meditative moments that are as unsettling as they are enervating. Visually the piece depicts abstract images that could be of dust in light, microbiotic life or a shifting cosmos. Defying easy interpretation, the viewer is often left wondering if the slow movement depicted comes from evolving objects in themselves or a shift in perspective; in this sense it can be seen to disorientate at every turn. The release was borne of protest. Cohen created it while still at college, rendered frustrated and angry by the formulaic dance music of his contemporaries. Like the music of Broken20 alumnus David Fyans aka Ertslaub, Tar River occupies a long format but contains discrete segments, each with their own mood and palette; it is, though, notably devoid of the nervous warmth of Fyans material, instead delineating a sureness and brutal command that harks to Delia Derbyshire as much as Kreng or Thomas Koner. As a whole, Tar River bestows as much as the viewer is willing to donate, staring out as deeply as the inward gaze it receives. Rapt attention will provide an endlessly morphing experience, rich in clarity and detail; less focus will generate a queasy wallpaper, true to the spirit of Enos original ambient experiments. Broken20s fifth release follows from its predecessor by extending the remit of this brave and unique label, redefining the parameters of its beatless output and embarking on a multi-format mission that will expand further throughout 2012. Each purchase of the physical DVD will ship with a download code for mp3s of the piece.