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MAMMIFFER & CIRCLE – ENHARMONIC INTERVALS (FOR PASCEN ORGAN)

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Enharmonic Intervals (For Paschen Organ) is the fruit of international experimental cross-pollination: Mammiffer makes intimate, keyboard driven soundscapes from the western US; Circle are prolific prog-metal whackos from Finland. The collaborative basis of the record, of two musical voices heard together, becomes a thematic launching point for the dynamic interplay between doubles.

The ‘’enharmonicism’’ of the record’s title refers to the different contextual understandings of the same chord or note, as in notating “C#” instead of “Db” even though they’re the same key on the piano. In this way, an enharmonic chord or note operates ambiguously as two (or more) things at once, often as a transition between separate tonal “contexts” (two key areas, for example). On this record, Mammiffer and Circle take a more abstract and experimental approach to this concept. By manipulating the timbral similarities of different instruments and voices, they produce a kind of “psychoacoustic enharmonicism,” or an ambiguous mental distinction between the sources of the sounds one is hearing.

For example, in opener “Kaksonen 1,” feedback circuits, viola harmonics, distorted vocals, and high-end organ pipes microtonally orbit the same pitches, confusing the ear as to which sound corresponds to which instrument. The applied effects and soft mixing, assigning a proportionate presence for each instrument, further obscure the assumed “labels” of what one hears: is that a gurgled voice, the bellows of the organ, pitched string scratches, or something as yet unheard? This motivic idea, laid out explicitly in the first track, reoccurs expressively throughout the record’s progression (particularly in the ‘’tuning’’ introduction to ‘’Vessel Full of Worms’’), before recapitulating in the final track.

The record thankfully doesn’t descend into a drone stasis, concerned only with textural morphs at the cost of melody. Most impressively, the central theme of musical plurality is still enriched: many sonically independent tracks, such as the foreboding cantillation and nylon string guitar of ‘’Vaso Luna,’’ are split into stereo double-tracks, blurring the perception between left and right ears.

Enharmonic Intervals (For Paschen Organ) is an intricately composed experience of sound.

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