June 25, 2014

Magicicada: Wrack with Ruin

Mission Trips

Don’t be fooled by the catchy name—Atlanta's Magicicada specializes in chirpy, glitchy sound collages that rarely carry any tune. The man behind the mischief, Chris White, gathers clicks, jitters, warps and weaves onto one palette, then lashes the canvas repeatedly to create jumbled, Pollock-like tracks. As you might expect, the results vary wildly.

When Magicicada remembers to apply a beat, it can hypnotize the listener properly, with Autechre-ish mind throbs like “Glancing Off the Edges.” Other times, the free-form freak-outs dissemble into wimpy throwaways (“Pardon You”) or unreasonably hostile gibberish (“Homeopathic Processor”). Curios like the ghostly “livewater” and the serene wind chime of “’torium” offer brief, albeit forgettable, respites from the churning, migraine-inducing mayhem.

White’s best constructions are pieces like “Ancient Squeek,” where the blizzard of breathy points and ratcheting tumbles slip into subtle, Aphex Twin-esque rhythms that only the most diligent listeners will tease out. 

Drum and bass aficionados may dig the constant rattling busy-ness of Wrack with Ruin—but prepare to be disappointed by the complete lack of bass. It's an adventurous and ambitious effort, but ultimately frustrating, without memorable hooks or binding focus. 3 out of 5.