“It does what it says on the tin”*, a familiar saying in the UK and Full-On by Klara Lewis & Nik Colk Void takes its title to the maximal limit. This is industrial, balletic, a brutalist concrete sound collage with alpha wave surfing and plenty of hypnotic repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. The album constructs new patterns and pathways by deconstructing, destabilising, and sometimes demolishing, old ones.
Lewis and Colk Void are artists working in extreme and abstract electronic music and Lewis says of their collaboration, “We kept bumping into each other at shows, then Nik invited me to support Factory Floor and after the show we were hanging out, and said we should collaborate”. There were performances at Café OTO, BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and the Liverpool Philharmonic which laid the ground work for Full-On.
Earlier tracks on the album such as ‘Say Why’, ‘Green’ and ‘Junk Funk’ are coruscating and challenging to listen to. Most music follows a familiar structure where we understand patterns such as intro-verse-chorus-middle 8, but with Full-On we must hold our nerve and go with Lewis and Colk Void’s radical new structures. Sometimes, in this alien landscape, there are fragmented phrases, distorted and unintelligible and at other times the mind tricks you into hearing voices that probably aren’t there.
Repetition is harnessed to great effect on Ski’, ‘Pop’, and ‘Junk Funk’ and the often gritty loops become cyclical puzzles your brain wants to decode so that, after a while, they start to resemble industrial nursery rhymes. Later tracks such as ‘Swimming’, ‘Teeth’, ‘Found’, ‘To Hold’, ‘Phantasy’, and ‘Travel With Friend’ are more ambient, drifting like cosmic winds pulsing with black holes and supernovas or as if Lewis and Colk Void have been able to capture and translate the autonomic processes of the human condition into sound.
Listening to the seventeen tracks on Full-On wearing headphones is cathartic, and I am energised every time I go into their world. At some points it feels like you are phasing through concrete and at others like dipping in and out of multiple radio stations from different dimensions. This is a fragmented reality and a glorious exploration to unlock the macro beauty hidden in cacophony and balance it against the calm of rendering microcosms in sound.
* “It does what it says on the tin” was a phrase created by Liz Whiston and Dave Shelton who working for the advertising agency HHCL and it has long-since surpassed its intended use to advertise products made by wood-dye manufacturer Ronseal, and entered into everyday language.
Review by Paul F Cook