Somnambule - Writing About Music

Son Of Clay ~ The Bird You Never Were

You begin to move through a digital jungle, pushing aside bitmapped fronds and vectorised vines, pixellated insects dart away from the square-edged thump of your footfalls. Lest you be misled, however, this is no breakbeat feast, hyperactive shadows dancing on distant leaves. Rather, Son Of Clay’s rhythms manage to be both woollen-coated and dainty, sleek and distressed. At the conclusion of the first track, Bring Me Water Or Bread, there’s the telltale cry of a bird, perhaps a parakeet or macaw to underline the initial impression of an electronic rainforest. The birdcalls continue on The Colour Scheme, now accompanied by sampled and processed clarinet. Son Of Clay’s sound is warm and experimental and conveys a feeling of isolated depth. Throughout there’s a sense of lonely strangeness which recalls nothing so much as Stockhausen’s 1950s tape works Studies I and II, Etude and Kontakte.

On later tracks the electrical static of rainfall drenches the background whilst electronic chords vibrate nearby like misshapen windchimes blown by erratic currents of air. These soundscapes hazily conjure images of the film of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, specifically the section in which a doomed expedition to Venus discovers that the planet’s unceasing rain pushes its members towards madness. Max Kristofer begins with windchimes, dredged and dragged through multifarious digital mangles, while great big wooden creaks and scrapes deepen the sense of an almost funereal darkness.

The Bird You Never Were is Andreas Bertilsson’s second full length release as Son Of Clay and he continues to explore the potential of performance, musical and environmental sampling and digital postproduction. The results are initially fascinating, unfortunately as the cd continues there proves to be too little a sense of development and ultimately the music proves uninvolving. It is as if a lengthy organ solo has been reflected in a shattered hall of mirrors: what was once structured and purposeful sails uncomfortably close to becoming a meandering path which dissipates into nothingness.
Colin Buttimer
January 2005
Published by the BBC