Mike Hansen – “At Every Point”

With his 2006 Etude Records release “At Every Point,” Hansen presents a sparse, starkly arranged collection of electroacoustic work. Although the credited instruments only include a prepared record player, guitar, and percussion; this is clearly not the case– avoiding the overt use of the studio as instrument is ignoring a tremendous elephant in the room.

On tracks like the album’s opener “The day before the day,” Hansen arranges numerous smaller sounds as acousmatic tableau; metal punctures alongside scraping swing-sounds, before rubbed drums signal an oncoming slow-motion crash of cymbals. Unless Hansen has developed a second pair of arms, its clear a lot of editing is going on here.

Don’t believe for a second that I think this is a bad thing. In no way do I feel tricked, or disappointed. Rather, I am quite happy to find a recording combining so many elements I enjoy: the prepared turntable (which Hansen is well-known to utilize), the obsessive quality of sound placement common to electroacoustic recording, and the finicky attention to detail only available to those willing to spend a significant amount of time whittling at digital recordings.

In passing, this is not an album that grabs you right away. Almost everything about it is low-key to the casual encounter. Instead, this is what I internally refer to as a “growing” album, a slow-burn that gathers steam with every time you press “repeat.” Whereas the metallic bowed-string noise of “Tidying up after” seem rather monolithic at first, upon examination, they surely resolve into layers of alternating tones, growing amongst one another as crystals. And how long it takes to notice the underlying crackle of vinyl when concentrating on scraped rust events, the single tap of glass, and the nervous, nearly-arrhythmic drumrolls!

For all the studio effort Hansen surely put into this album, it is most striking, then, that it develops as much organic flow and real-time improvisatory qualities as it does. I can imagine this work being played as a trio or quartet, as it is not burdened with effect-trickery. Recommended for headphones, or rather loud speakers.

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