Title: Apophenia – or The Final Static That Can Never Be Removed
Release Date: July 2, 2013
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Toby Chappell’s influences form a diverse range from goth / doom metal, noise works, to electro acoustic artists. In fact his mentor is a well-regarded electro acoustic musician of critical acclaim if under appreciated. Combine this with Chappell’s well-informed literary study of human nature and you get Misdreamt’s first release ‘Apophenia – or The Final Static That Can Never Be Removed’.
The word apophenia is the desire of the mind to make sense of the things around it, including things that are mysterious by perceiving connections between un-connected events or phenomena. For example, seeing the shape of an animal in the clouds, or a face in the ink blot of a Rorschach test.
There seems to be a stronger occurrence of such connections when trying to explain the mysterious or mystical things. For example, seeing the face of Jesus in a piece of burnt toast, or on the Shroud of Turin.
This is the playground for the first Misdreamt release. From the opening of the four-part The Weight of Dreams Against the Harsh Wisdom of the World the listener is placed in a space where manipulated sound recordings make auditory illusions appear to be true. Voices and sounds emerge from static, instruments appear influenced by the sounds of field recordings around it, and so on.
The question becomes: are the phenomena you are hearing connected or related in some way? Is the artist manipulating the sounds to make the connections for you, or are your ears and mind making connections that aren’t really there? This is a question you will ask yourself over and over in listening to this release. In fact, there are so many times that the question can be asked, you will find yourself listening and re-listening to these tracks over and over to try to answer the question.
This is a ground that has been explored before, in even more simple instrumental arrangements. Frank Zappa recorded Rubber Shirt on ‘Sheik Yerbouti’, a layering of a drum solo he lifted from concert tapes, with a separately recorded bass solo. Neither of the musicians involved heard what the other was doing. The effect Zappa achieved was leaving the listener to hear connections and interactions between the bass and drums that never happened. Allowing the mind to explore the depths of apophenia within a small scale.
Toby Chappell has taken this simple concept to another level through layering of instruments and manipulated field recordings. The degree of apophenia the listener experiences is likely going to be proportional to the amount he or she senses that there is disorder or mystery that their mind wants to explain. And all of this is accomplished without overwhelming or overloading your mind. Instead ‘Apophenia’ allows you mind to tease out the puzzles within.
Overall, ‘Apophenia’ is a graceful and engaging release from an artist who is definitely intersted in exploring concepts and making artistic statements. Very worthwhile listening. If future releases are this well-defined and realized, we are all in for a long journey through highly evocative and thought-provoking domains with Misdreamt.