Songs about the river are a common trope in the history of music. Psalms of being cleansed, being baptized, being redeemed. There are ballads of murder, lost love, jealousy, and all sorts of rank human emotion reflected in the surface of the water. Respect, praise, and worship of the river are other themes often channeled through music as well. Even in the realm of ambient music, digital mimesis of the aquatic is commonplace. Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, in their ongoing archaeological approach to a post-industrial sound design, offers their own variant on this topic with considerable differences. It is not only the sediment, the debris, the waste, the scum, the mud, and the rot that are the source materials in Scaath Catfish, but also what is preserved in those elements and new forms of life fostered in this conceptual framework.
Sibilant mutations from Fossil Aerosol’s multiple sources (field recordings, found sounds, etc.) spill forth as dilated tones, mesmerizing echos, clattering loops, and harmonic distortions. Floods of dense sonic accretion give way to languid mirages with human intervention complicating matters. Fossil Aerosol gives a preternatural language to the river, one that parallels their occasional collaborators in :zoviet*france: as well as the environmental ruminations of Biospshere and the practitioners of power ambient (Rafael Anton Irisarri, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, etc.)
Fossil Aerosol addresses the album this way: Scaath Catfish was recorded in the spring of 2016, implementing field recordings made in the Illinois River valley and instrumental material found on a homemade cassette recording. The field recordings were made along the banks of a backwater lake and in the shadow of an aging power plant, following a spring flood. Twenty-six years earlier, one of the members of Fossil Aerosol purchased a homemade instrumental cassette tape recording (marked only “sacred”), at a thrift store in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. In 2016, fragments of the found cassette recordings were mixed with those made in the mud along the river. The result was Scaath Catfish.