Following her debut LP (kraak, 2018) and a string of tapes and 7-inches, Red Brut drops her second album, Cloaked Travels. It is a joined release by the Finnish labels Ikuisuus and Lal Lal Lal. In many aspects, Cloaked Travels is an amazing realisation of what Red Brut does best: molding the absurd, the amateurish, and the crude into beautiful and elegant sound pieces. These eight “songs”, organised in two suites, dwell between abstract avant-garde and pop sensibility. Working with cassette tapes, Red Brut enhances the ambiguous qualities of her sounds with the warm distortion and background hiss typical of the medium. The music leaves the listener to him- or herself, happily lost in small universes that contain many layers of beauty, discomfort, and intimacy.
Susan Sontag once claimed that diaries, despite secretly kept by the author, are meant to be read by others. Red Brut’s intimate and highly personal take on musique concrète is characterised by a homely feeling: sounds of doors, kids outside her house, a synth that sounds like a house pet, muffled whispers of her voice. Her compositions sound like you are secretly reading her diary. You are in the uncomfortable position of watching someone chasing her own tail, unaware of the fact that she is being the object of our gaze. Unaware?
Cloaked Travels displays on a certain point the sound of a squeaking door. Over and over until it starts sounding like a wild free jazz solo. Is Verbiesen playing tricks on our minds? Is she actually the Unconsciously Watched? Or is she cloaked as that character, and in fact very well aware that we are peeping into her inner emotional universe; maybe she is even projecting a fake version of what sounds like here day-to-day, intimate environment — making us conscious of our own gaze?
Again Sontag comes to mind: she deliberately projected a well-constructed character in both her diaries as in public life. Cloaked Travels contains distinct and carefully composed pieces that play upon the tension between the concrete and the abstract. Every song acts like a Cave of Plato: we are unable to see what is actually happening, we only see the shadows of a door moving or the sounds of someone gurgling. The album suggests some fundamental questions: is what we conceive as reality nothing but a derivative of the Ideal? Is there really something behind the shadow, or is the shadow the actual reality?