Review in Cyclic Defrost
July 7, 2014 esc.rec.43
Comprised of musicians James Annesley and Tristan Courtney alongside visual artist Robert Jarvis, Melbourne-based musical-visual outfit Virtual Proximity perform entirely improvised live shows, with live horn and woodwind instrumentation being processed and combined alongside loops, found sounds and drum programming to conjure an eerie sense of downbeat post-jazz atmosphere. It’s Annesley alone though who is responsible for producing the collective’s recorded releases, and this debut download-only EP ‘Observations’ offers up six tracks that remain difficult to pin down, and hover somewhere in the indefinable space between musique concrete, ambient, post-jazz and hiphop.
‘Outside Looking In’ kicks things off with a forlorn wander throughout gentle looped horns and woodwinds, as the distant clatter of drums lurches along through a gauze of field recorded sounds, a muffled conversation remaining just out of earshot as insect-like tones ripple through the mix like a fog. If there are traces of the weary landscapes crafted by Actress on his ‘Ghettoville’ collection on the aforementioned track, ‘Inside Looking Out’ gets far more cold and brittle as crackling textures and looped bells cycle against moody bassoon swells and distant zapping electronics, before ‘Broken Machinery’ ushers in a queasy crawl through lurching mechanistic rhythms, doomy tribal bass and arcane-sounding synth trails that calls to mind the likes of Coil or perhaps Hacker Farm more than anything else, particularly when things slow to a sickening crawl and what sounds like a TV sample gets mashed all over the place. An intriguing and frequently dark EP that’s difficult to pigeonhole.