I am fascinated by lockdown stories. As someone who found creativity very difficult during that time, I am particularly interested in hearing about what people produced when they we confined to their home… what outlets they found to occupy their time and keep themselves sane. This album is a product of that time and is something that is quite different from what you may normally expect from this particular individual.
Some readers may know Tommy Handschick as the drummer with bands such as Kombynat Robotron and Earthbong, however Fungal Dimension is his solo project which is considerably more laid back than those other bands. I was interested to know more about how the project unfolded, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions so I could understand more. I started by asking him how it all came about?
When all this started I just wanted to try to get into lo-fi recording engineering. After a couple of tests, chaos moved in and I liked it. Because I wasn’t able to listen to what I was recording so I just did what I thought might sound ok. When I put the stuff together, I realised there were some natural rhythms forming ‘out of the chaos’.
So the process began and just recorded what I wanted, mostly percussion and instruments I am not able to play; or just regular objects, such as a cheese grater. I also made a few field recordings and collected a little library of sounds I could put together and deform with digital effects.
I then asked him what sort of sounds he was going for once he had put all this together?
The idea of drones formed by using percussion instruments that don’t have a key, in other words ones which only make a flat noise. This fascinated me: but maybe this is because is I can’t really play melodic instruments at all, so that’s is what’s left. I Just like getting lost in it, whether while listening or playing.
And I have to say that I definitely like getting lost in listening to this album. Perhaps it is because of this idea of a sort of order emerging out of chaos, a concept I have repeatedly said I like on these pages. So while there is a definite sense of peacefulness through the drones there is a definite contrast to this here too as the peaceful mind is also given something to do while it is zoning out.
The album itself comprises two tracks, the titles of which make up the title of the record. So, as you’d expect each occupies one side of the vinyl version… both of them coming in around the twenty minute mark. On both occasions, then, you get plenty time to drop in and check out…
‘Deconica’ begins with a sinister drone below what I hear as the sound of people mining… I imagine a grim scene on some dystopian world far away. There is a real initial sense of claustrophobia, of being hemmed in… perhaps the lockdown effect showing itself early on. However, as the track progresses things start to open out a bit and this scene gradually melts away from me… it’s weird like some sort of de-evolution as the mine gives way to a more bucolic jungle scene… industrialisation returning to nature/ the object to the mine becoming organic once more… a feeling of coming out of something. This is a very gradual thing and it something that I discern only slowly… and no doubt my mind with be different to the minds of others in how you perceive this. What I do notice as I get deeper into this is the care that with which this has been put together… it sounds like something that is quite free-flowing, and certainly the more you immerse yourself and the longer it progresses you also get this sense that a great deal of attention has been put into creating this atmosphere… this return to where we came from… and as we reach the end in a more percussive vain, there is a definite feeling of having been on a rather profound journey… one that is not quite discernible as if it is a secret between you and the music… the latter of which acts as a guide and mentor on your path ahead.
Listening to this a few times now, I have found that it is good just to take a moment between the two tracks… which will be natural once I get the vinyl version of this from Adansonia Records. ‘Phellinus’ in some senses bares more immediate comparison with the second. lighter, part of ‘Deconica’… and feels a little less passive. Here the found sounds and field recordings are higher in the mix and you can more sense the chaos that Tommy talks about above… I initially found this a little disconcerting, but that’s fine… I like that sort of thing in my music. If anything the atonalism increases until it reaches something of a crescendo around half way through the track… this is a far more intense experience than the other side, and at times you almost feel overwhelmed by it… but eventually you become subsumed within it, especially during the second part where there seems to be something of an easing of the tension as the chaos is just about contained. This is a track that is pretty much on the edge all the way through though… despite the turn of events at about fifteen minutes (and that is like saying that there is a sudden turn of events during the glacial period)… at which point the drone becomes much stronger and it feels like you are being led towards the light in a weirdly calm but at the same time dramatic fashion…
It’s quite an end to over forty minutes of intense and, when you look back on it, varied experience of something that never seems to change much over time… yet over the space of two sides of vinyl you feel as if you have undergone something of a transformation from dark sinister beginnings through what sounds like natural and unnatural progressions (maybe organic and inorganic might be a better way of describing it)… and to an extent you sit there at the end wondering exactly what just went on… all I can say is that it is a long sonic collage that you just need to sit with and let it take you wherever you need to go…
‘Deconica/ Phellinus’ is available now on Adansonia Records, see here.
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