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Crys Cole - A Piece of Work

From the venerable Second Editions comes one of favourite records of the year so far, crys cole’s “A Piece of Work”. Slowly refined since its performance debut in 2019, it’s an astounding rethinking of the terms of musique concrète - weaving a rich journey across abstract forms - that bends time and space, and encounters Cole in a thrilling state of constant and deeply poetic change.

Since its humble beginnings in 2017 - issuing a pair of cassette releases by René Margraff / Malte Cornelius Jantzen and Kevin Drumm - Second Editions has set an incredibly high bar within the field of experimental sound. Working at the careful pace of roughly two releases a year, they’ve dropped stunners by Lori Goldston, Claire Rousay, Roger Tellier-Craig, Karl Fousek, Kaori Suzuki, and Eva-Maria Houben over the last few years. Now they’re back with one of our favourites to date, crys cole’s “A Piece of Work”, a deeply poetic excursion into resonant sonority that deftly rethinks the terms of musique concrète. Issued in a very limited edition of 300 copies on vinyl, it stands as yet another proof that Cole is one of the most fascinating artists working today. Impossible to recommend enough.

Over the last decade, the Canadian born, globe traversing sound artist and musician, crys cole, has left a remarkable body of work and action in her wake. Focused on the constrained limits of sonic possibility, bridging gallery and musical contexts, as dedicated to collaborative efforts as she is solo, she has steadily generated an inspiring, immersive world of subtle, consciously imperfect textural sound, deploying haptic gestures and incidental materials to continuously retune the ear. Cole’s discography is steadily gaining steam, witnessing, in real time, an artist in a constant state of refinement and self-initiated challenge. Not only has she dropped some seriously incredible solo gestures - notably 2015's “Sand / Layna” and 2020's “Beside Myself” - but she’s delivered numerous mind-blowing collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, James Rushford, Francis Plagne, and Leif Elggren. Her latest, “A Piece of Work”, encounters the artist pushing toward new states ofcreative hybridity, incorporating touchstones of ambient music, field recording, electronics, and noise.

Commissioned by Radiophrenia in Glasgow, Scotland, where the composition premiered in 2019, “A Piece of Work” slowly developed and evolved in Cole’s hands, via live performances and studio sessions, over the last few years, eventually settling into the form that we now encounter in its first recorded release. Clocking in at just under 28 minutes, it’s a drifting, labyrinthine journey into a vast range sonority, deftly delving into a deep sense of structural abstraction, without losing a tangible sense of the artist’s sources. Each, issuing a remarkable sense of personality, feels like a character encountered and explored along the way.

Constructed from material recorded during her travels to Oslo, Berlin, Vienna, Winnipeg, Melbourne and Lisbon, the work mirrors Cole’s own movements, blurring the boundaries between time and space, and weaving a poetic sense of narrative and encounter as she goes. Moving from a delicate pattern of environmental sounds, into shifting tonalities that deconstruct notions of ambient music, the work progresses into more abrasive textures, breaths, and ratting percussion to take hold for the remainder of the first half, before falling off during passages bristling textures and electronic sounds - marked by a minimalist’s sense of restraint - that pushes the work toward a seamless and elegant resolve.

Opening a window into in between spaces, and profound value of sounds that are often overlooked, across the length of “A Piece of Work” Cole rigorously delivers an astounding rethinking of the terms and possibilities of musique concrète, reworking it in her own image every step of the way. Absolutely stunning, this very limited edition of 300 copies on vinyl is sure to be sold out in a flash. Unquestionably one the best and most engaging records we’ve heard all year. Not to be missed.