** 2021 Stock. Glass-mastered CD with letterpress cover by Ben Owen/Middle Press ** Recording in Brooklyn in 2014, this collaboration between Tim Olive and Ben Owen presents four tracks of electronic improvisation using shortwave radio, oscillators, paper, contact microphones and magnetic pickups, creating a mysterious and well-paced album of sound experimentation.
"The inconspicuous titles of Tim Olive and Ben Owen's first collaboration make it look like an album of discrete parts, just four improvised recordings in a long string of unreleased and otherwise unmentioned attempts. Listening closely makes that interpretation difficult to abide. Recorded in Brooklyn, New York in 2014 and released this year, 63-66 operates on a continuum of color, light, and weight, from bright streaks of white and grey that hover in the middle distance to hard flashes of opaque yellow and scrambled red, sounds that cut or fall inward or swallow up space. It's a delicate, but still powerful effect achieved with a minimum of inputs: Olive with magnetic pickups and Owen with shortwave radios, oscillators, and paper. 63-66 begins with a stunning 20-minute assemblage of amplifier hum and metallic percussion so thin it registers as translucent film warping the light that passes through it. "63" admits solid objects too - the hard patter of plastic and steel against wood, thick bass frequencies - but folds and fades them behind a soft fog of white and silver. The effect is isolating.
Color, weight, density, and texture are all presented without reference to an external body. Percussive elements snap into a void, apparent field recordings that might introduce depth level out into walls of interference, and the quiet murmur of electricity stretches out toward nothing at all; not a studio, not a garage, not another person. It's all flashes of heat and radiation against a flat mist. Maybe that's why the album plays so well with a stereo - the music is hungry for that third dimension. Headphones will work too, of course, but there's something satisfying about hearing this music unfold into a room, especially as "64" turns up the intensity with a glowing sine tone. Alone, it burns through nearly every perturbation it crosses, but Olive and Owen support it with mechanical noises and a curious buzzing anomaly that could pass for a persistent bee or a mosquito. It's enough to make one think of flight, of the high tones as an upper limit to air travel and the low ones as the ground moving beneath, compressed to an image of geometry and imagined environments.
The final two pieces commit to a feeling of heaviness absent in the first two, with Ben and Tim's colors and lights thickening into qualities of shape and direction, and almost into solid objects. The frayed wires and radio signals of "66," combined with a healthy background of white noise, turn the implied intensity of "64" into a corporeal sensation, into an impression not just of shifts in audible and visual stimuli, but into bodily agitation and kinesthetic turbulence. It makes for a jittery, nervous ending intense enough to induce stress. It also provides an excellent contrast to the album's pleasant beginning, not because it is a jarring counter-example, but because Olive and Owen show how that vigor and energy, embodied or otherwise, is implicit in color and light." - Lucas Schleicher, Dusted Magazine