Music isn’t a language. It’s multiple languages. And like the world’s native tongues, some relate to one another. House and techno are both electronic in the same way that Italian and Spanish are both Latin-based.
In this respect, multimedia artist and experimental composer Joshua Curry in San Jose, California can lay claim to a unique accomplishment. His November release Critters is its own language. It is unlike anything we’ve heard. Mixing recordings of wildlife at sunset with synthesizers and a genuinely unique approach to composition, Curry has produced a phenomenal 15-track album.
He records under the name Lucidbeaming. In the same way that tag places two seldom-matched words side by side, Curry’s music combines a variety of unrelated sounds, decontextualizing them in the process.
The album opens with an early-vinyl recording of an opera singer competing with an otherworldly synth line and a lush metallic beat. As the piece progresses, Curry takes us back and forth between the opera vocal and alien synth. The latter begins to sound like a voice itself, indecipherable and yet emotionally relatable. The title, “Aerodome” adds a setting to this remarkably visual work.
Next is “Wøtterbuket.” Everything resonates in this piece, as though the music were recorded at the foot of a mountain. The beat dominates. But because it doesn’t follow any traditional time signature, it maintains our focus throughout. The sounds around it serve as a kind of unrecognizable ambience.
“Polmnode” growls like an alien. “Luky Bike” hums like a power station. “Vale” is nightmarish.
What may be most impressive about this album is that Curry began with such an interesting idea – recording animal sounds at dusk – and then used those found sounds in completely unexpected ways. The result is thrilling.