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Erdem Helvacioglu – Timeless Waves

Sub Rosa

Timeless Waves apparently started life as a ‘sonic work’ for a multi-channel installation of some kind (though the notes are unclear as to whether it was a conventional performance or gallery deal). I can get a bit sceptical of these things translated to disc, but luckily, Erdem Helvacioglu’s done a good job of making it into a more album-shaped whole. It’s loosely themed around a set of common emotions, but it’s thankfully ambiguous in that intention – there’s enough mettle to this to keep it aside from something comparable to ‘this is using the colour blue because blue is a sad colour.’

Opener “Fear” has some lush (and gorgeously recorded) fritter and textures, and plenty of layers dipping in and out; moments of repetitious, percussive guitar sounds ceding and ebbing with more troublesome and maleficent electronic scrape and fuzzy burning sounds. I’m not sure it’s invoking fear in me per se, but it certainly works well on headphones in the dead of night. “Love” is thankfully not on the sappy side of things, so much as it is a pretty straight melody slide guitar melody accentuated by some dissonances growling away in a burbling brook of concrète stylings and (I think) harmonium. “Anger” does the right thing in not just thrashing away but somehow expressing the impotence of broken, crippled heavy metal gestures and electronic racket.

I suspect much of the sources are from the guitar, but it’s often difficult to tell – some of the processing is pretty dense, and there’s often a pretty clear demarcation of ‘lead’ guitar sounds, non-lead guitar (ambient rattle, behind-the-nut scratches…) and sounds that could be fires-qua-glitch, cable hum or processed wine glass clinks. Helvacioglu knows his way around getting the best out of a sound, and unlike a fair few of the sound-art sorts, he’s got the measure of melodies you can latch onto and leaving plenty of apparent space while keeping things dense (rather than making a soup of sounds…) – “Surprise” (thankfully not a ska-punk cover of any sort) is pretty plain in terms of playing – some slack-tuned guitar frittering – but it’s the delivery and tactility with the sounds, the deployment of stereo effects and laptop (?) squiggle that makes it well worth a listen. Perhaps in a similar way to Otomo Yoshihide’s late-90s turntable stuff. It’s also one of the non-melodic tracks offering respite from the emotional narrative of the titles.

It’s always nice to see from what is ostensibly sound-art that a bit of thought’s gone into making it a coherent whole as an album – you get a bit of a lurch from bordering-on-noise stuff to floating melodies and even a pleasant little ditty at the end (called “Joy,” of course). Holistic sound-art for your sound-holes.

As ever with Sub Rosa, it’s a lush recording – they’re a label at the top of their game, making the records sound as good as they can. Might be a bit of a seller as well – there’s plenty of syrupy melodies in amongst the sound-art sturm und klang to keep the less texturally inclined engaged, while retaining enough subtlety to keep a sound-art conference jabbering. A splendid opportunity to fill that gaping chasm in your collection marked ‘Turkish sound-art.’

-Kev Nickells-

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