Tabs Out | Beast Nest – A History of Sexual Violence

Beast Nest – A History of Sexual Violence
10.26.18 by Malocculsion

Bay Area sound artist, lecturer, curator, community organizer, and sound engineer Sharmi Basu is no stranger to the self-released cassette as a medium for advancing her own work, offering up nearly a half-dozen self-released cassettes throughout the least three years. However, none are as sonically diverse as “A History Of Sexual Violence.”

Basu’s densely present, malleable compositions are filled with a plethora of shimmering life-like tones. Her sound is poised and elegant, weaving ethereal layers of pulsating, swelling synthesizers, rumbling polyrhythmic drum machines, and a myriad of digital and analog glitches that span the human spectrum of hearing and beyond. “A History Of Sexual Violence” isn’t easily classified into traditional experimental sub-genres such as drone, noise, neoclassical, or even new age, but in its own unique way it does reference these strategies throughout its near forty-minute sonic excursion. Whereas many contemporary drone artists tend to introspect in a sea of tone poem ambiance, never offering a sound up for a larger interpretation or a deeper meaning, Basu’s sound operates by its own rules: The artist masterfully sets up through her complex, idiosyncratic systems.

On the album’s opening piece, Relief, Basu synthesizes the sound of large, cavernous, shifting earth-tones through a rhizome-like web of auditory relationships. Low, deep, humming drones are accentuated by smaller, clusters of hissing and buzzing actions, the dynamic of nature coming alive viciously yet elegantly in that exact moment. On arcing journeys through unexplored worlds these sounds require their own spaces for contemplation and experience, shifting around our inner ear until they eclipse the inside of our body and gently rest atop the spinal column.

When we reach the track Friends, Basu toys with a distant orchestral, ethereal drone accompanied by gentle, distant explosions, which quickly form into a percussion track, accelerating the mood and tempo rather quickly into an arpeggiated sea of tonal bliss. At this point the music once again has become complex and undefinable, which is refreshing to say the least. If one were to focus on just the synth arpeggios, they could pass as highly constructed classical riffs. The drones are their own cavernous offerings, and the musique concrète style of sample manipulation leaves the ear and the mind begging the question, where did these sounds come from, the past or perhaps the future? Distorted horns eventually crawl out of the background, laying a heavy and cacophonous plane for other voices to sing and glow into a distorted light that reflects back in through your ear and causes a blissful collapse to the cloud that has crept beneath your knees in slow motion. The sound of “ A History Of Sexual Violence” is complex as it is ethereal, deep as it is present, bright as it is confrontational. Beast Next articulates lucid glimpses of hope in a mucky, boot-trodden earth which has all but rid itself of the existential problem of (most of) humanity. Beast Nest is simultaneously an echo from a previous sonic event and the music of the future art’s eradication of white supremacy.

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