With his initial cassettes, Ahnnu layered and looped samples to match the complexion of a drive through a sprawling city on a sticky summer day, all the spaces and scenes bleeding together. Ahnnu was quick to pull out stops and turns to joke and trick (see Couch, Pro Habitat). On his next few releases, Ahnnu dropped the beats and let jazz marimba-to-pan flute loops set the pace for each track. Freckled with minute affectation, he solidified the ambient-psychedelic goo he placed his samples in, showing an even subtler taste for pace and narrative (See Battered Sphinx, World Music).
On Perception, Ahnnu views his samples/field recordings as notes on a staff. It’s hesitant and calculated, losing its ‘crafted-by-ear’ appeal a little in favor of composition. In contrast to his tendency to mix and map cultural sounds in the past, Perception is determined to create its own space.
Having been a fan of Ahnnu, the first thing I noticed about this new record was the complete absence of beats. It almost feels completely devoid of rhythm. But in fact rhythm is integral to understanding what this artist is getting at. Almost like Stockhausen, he pries at the wavelengths of the timbre to make nuanced melodies with dependent rhythms. He juxtaposes tonally driven slivers with the rhythm of his panning. The onset of each sample’s fidelity is just as important melodically as it is rhythmically, and just as considered as the sample itself.
With Perception, Ahnnu drifts from hip hop a bit and warms up to the sounds of musique concrete, even free-jazz. Ahnnu plays his sampler as if it’s somehow ‘prepared’, showing us the underbelly or circuitry of each sound. He has made an art of animating his sounds. He has a raw ability to coax the contextual imagery out of a sample, but also pluck at its natural composition. With Perception he’s created a bleached, inverted ombre, one that makes his sound transparent.