Somnambule - Writing About Music

PXP ~ Nada

Nada meaning nothing. PXP Googled offers up references to NYSE share and stock data, Unix websites and German software houses which seems entirely appropriate. Almost all the words (including the track listing) on the canary yellow cd cover have been fastidiously obliterated by silver rectangles reminiscent of lottery scratch cards. No possibility of prizes underneath though. A solitary line of text remains:

Sxe>e<k>-a.n#diis-h>a=rxe>.I-Tyh>i>s|_|i<s<>toh:e bag.

On further investigation, PXP announce themselves as “a farmersmanual subunit ... necessarily in the spirit of the superunit ...” Farmers Manual are an Austrian trio of digital noise mavericks whose improvised performances are sometimes noisome and almost always pleasurably unpredictable. Their artwork folds in chaotic and apparently random elements that often read like spam virii and scrawled bitmap images.

Track one’s cottonwool-wrapped tones mix with the glint of surgical instruments. It’s the warmth of lint dressing absorbing the heat of wounds. Track 2 is crunchier, like torched rayon crunching underfoot. Track 7 is a battering ram composed of the repurposed putter of an outboard motor that undergoes a series of changes - double speed, ghosted, half speed and so on – all the while polluted by plastic scree that moulds, melts and floats around it.

The music is intense, but the relative brevity of the thirteen tracks – their average length is about four minutes – means that each piece is relatively digestible. Due to the brief pauses it’s possible to gain a sense of form that might otherwise elude all but the most determined. Recommended for fans of recent Autechre and Louis and Bebe Barron, Nada is much more than nothing. It’s a series of intensely abstract, detailed pieces of music that alternate between inhuman automatism, unexpected beauty and blasted grandeur.

Colin Buttimer
April 2005
Published by the BBC