I & II
There seems to be something of an avant garde, free sound microcosm developing in Medway these days. Certainly there’s enough bands and performers to fill a gig lineup now. First you have the battering improv noise of Black Light Brigade, and then the bearded junkpile nightmare that is Hand Of Stabs.
Now comes teenage wizard Jude Frankum, offering us two EP’s, Brutalism I & II (a third part is due later in the year) which is, ‘a series of EP’s composed of ambient, drone, noisy guitars and chilling atmospheres, inspired by the Brutalism architecture movement of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.’
Jude Frankum comes at this from a different angle compared to the aforementioned artists , where BLB and HOS produce, in their different ways, organic and analogue soundscapes on real instruments and found objects, Frankum gives us something more based on digital technology with processed sounds reverberating off into infinity, and, on the second EP, harsh, unrelenting programmed drums. The overall effect is harsh and cold, it’s the sound of the wind blowing through an abandoned multi-storey car park, or perhaps the old chatham bus station. Concrete urban nightmares spring to mind, conjured by the soundscape, which seems to be very much Frankum’s intention.
To be clear, this is ambient music, both EP’s total three tracks between them, none shorter than ten minutes, and there are no ‘songs’ in evidence, which may prove unappealing to some. Personally I love this stuff, though I consume it in a different way to other music. Often, perversely, listening to ambient drone stuff at maximum volume is a highly effective headache cure, it’s epic tones surrounding me like a floatation tank.
I enjoyed listening to these two EPs, but fans of electronic ambient music will find little new ground being broken here, the overall sound is largely reminiscent of Steven Wilson’s Bass Communion Project, the vibe of urban despair and desolation further reinforcing this connection for me. This is not entirely fair on Frankum though, with so little going on, it’s hard for any ambient artist to truly set themselves apart, the devil is in the details that go into the little textures and effects of the ambience, like the way Bass Communion’s Ghosts on Magnetic Tape was made entirely from processed samples of 78 records, or how Sunn O)))’s Domkirke was recorded live in a church, picking up the doom-laded reverberations of that space.
What I reckon Jude Frankum should do is, take whatever recordings he has prepared for Brutalism III, play that at maximum volume inside The Brook Car Park, record that on a zoom sound recorder or something, and release the results.
In short, I like the sound, I like the concept, but I’d like to see this go further and really get it’s teeth into the concept for the third part, so Mr Frankum can really set himself apart.