Mark Fell


Rating: 3.8/5.0

Label: Editions Mego

One half of UK minimal glitch project snd, Mark Fell has been making icy timbres of the synthetic grain and fitting them into speedy asymmetrical rhythmic patterns for the past two decades. His work has been released by labels interested in experimental electronic adventures such as Mille Plateaux, Line, Raster Noto and 12K. Now, Peter Rehberg’s Austrian label Editions Mego has saved Fell’s latest sound designs which were scrapped earlier this year by a company that manufactures hardware/software for computer-based production artists.

In early 2011, the man behind Errorsmith – another sound designer at the frontier of digital technological development – Erik Wiegand, contacted Mark Fell. He asked Fell to create some presets for a software synthesizer he had in the works for Berlin/LA-based Native Instruments. Fell began by reopening his summer 2010 project entitled UL8, a four-part, 20-track exploration made with and meant to be listened to on Celestion UL8 speakers sought after by gear-heads. Fell has said that he experienced the electronically synthesized sounds of Supertramp and 10cc at loud volumes with the UL8 unit. This developed his taste for synthetic sounds over organic guitar and drums. Fell came up with 40 sounds derivative of the UL8 project and connected them to the sounds of Wiegand’s software synth. Native Instruments rejected all of Mark Fell’s presets and none were used in the final release of the product. Fell decided to release what he had worked on for NI on a double 12″ called Manitutshu.

Manitutshu is a meditation on temporal structure concerned with obliterating timeline-based sequencing. Cranked-out patches are run through irregular rhythmic patterns that texturally focus on the singularity of minimal chordal layering. Pieces on Manitutshu labeled “Manitutshu (New Algorithm)… LatelyBass And NewElectro, Attack Pulse Hat” and “Manitutshu… Parameter Set 2, Linn Hi Tom, JazzOrg, Vortex Study Performance Overdub, And Synthesis Reminiscent Of Duet Emmo” are exercises in technique that reach the fragmented lineage and speeds resembling the voyages of Autechre’s “Ipatial Section” and Aphex Twin’s “Omgyjya-Switch7.” “Manitutshu (New Algorithm)… LatelyBass And NewElectro, Attack Pulse Hat” and its variant “Manitutshu… Parameter Set 2…” are the only tracks that arguably hint at rhythmic stability. Fierce racing metallic staccatos are broken up by a woman speaking in French about what you’re hearing. Synthetic strains warp and stretch into a collapse like a circuit getting worked up and then shorting out beautifully. Studies of the “Acids in The… thin razor, attack noise hat, Linn” series are bursting singular strobes of what sounds like a blue racquetball ball hitting sheets of recordable plasma.

snd buddy Mat Steel takes Fell’s “Occultation Of… Razor Simple Acid Pause Version With LFO To Cutoff” the 1:47 wet singular pulsation, into what he calls “Occultation Of… Extended Remix” and leads the abstracted tone into a steady 14-and-a-half minute octave shifting journey – no drums, no bass, no found vocals.

The isolation of timbral data and the deconstruction of sound on Manitutshu recalls This Heat’s idea of undoing sound and structure simultaneously. It’s a push of sonic possibilities that actively creates new dimensions for discovery on the production level while giving fans of the genre something dense to gnaw on. The survival of Manitutshu is a testament to musical innovation predicated on its creator’s ripe tenacity.

by Sky Madden

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