Abstractithica by Max Hall is more than an album; it’s a sonic journey that borders on the metaphysical.
The record is comprised of one long atmospheric sound collage (split across both sides of the LP) that is entirely built out of samples taken from around the world on a stereo field recorder over the span of four years. From chirping birds to clattering dishes to ghostly drones and even funhouse calliopes, Abstractithica is rich with a variety of audio textures that are deeply layered upon each other. At many points on the album, straightforward sounds like the churn of a passing airplane propeller or chirping birds fade in for a few moments before twisting and mutating into heavily processed and indistinguishable abstractions. Many of these abstractions drone out in lingering, sustained notes, providing a base for other samples to weave around while giving the piece a very Future Sound of London or John Oswald kind of feel.
The highlight of the 40+ minute piece for me is around the halfway point of the second side, where what sounds like an old church organ is slowed down and smothered in heavy reverb effects. This portion lasts for several minutes and gives the track a spacy, spectral and lonesome tone. It is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s haunting Hymns/Spheres record as well as something that Richard Wright could have cooked up on his own around 1970.
There are so many samples packed into this track and of such an incredibly wide variety, you could listen to this record 100 times and notice something different every single time (especially if you put on wraparound headphones). It’s almost like you are hearing a slightly different performance or mix each time you play it.
Fitting somewhere between the first Negativland album and the dark work of Mandible Chatter, Max Hall’s patched-together creation is so vivid and densely detailed, it absolutely feels alive with sound.
Get this record from the good folks at Evil Hoodoo Records: http://evilhoodoo.bigcartel.com/product/max-hall-abstractithica-vinyl