The Viennese experimental trio Radian – drummer and electronics player Martin Brandlmayr (who also plays in Polwechsel), bassist John Norman and guitarist and electronics player Martin Siewert (who is also in-demand recording technician) – always has a highly imaginative approach to sound and a visionary approach to composition. Radian’s well-crafted sonic architectures delight in deconstruction and reconstruction, precision and chaos, tension and contradiction, sound and silence and improvisation and composition while creating a suggestive aura of suspense and even unease.
The listening experience to Distorted Rooms feels like a new phase of Radian’s journey and demands surrendering to a sonic experience where your brain cells are rewired again and again to the fascinating microtonal manipulation of Radian. The album plays with abstract sounds and byproducts of sounds – soft and very quiet sounds are amplified while super-loud sounds are put in the mix very softly, thus playing with their familiar dynamics and expectations of the listeners and maximizing their aural and emotional effects. The rich sonic palettes of Radian are made of sounds like abstracted guitar motifs, switching a pedal on and off or toggling the guitar’s pickup, loops, or electronic approach to the guitar’s sonics.
The six pieces of Distorted Rooms were created by arranging these microstructures and then further shaping them with precise and layered overdubs. The opening piece, «Cold Suns», with turntables wizard dieb13 (aka Dieter Kovačič), suggests a mysterious, three-dimensional sonic landscape that juggles with distorted human voices, spidery guitar lines and a hypnotic, almost ritualist groove. The following «C at the Gates», with its ethereal guitar sounds and percussion augmented with analog drum machines, sketches friendly sci-fi landscapes. «Cicada» relies on a persistent, almost dance-like beat, obscured by enigmatic, noisy sounds. «Skyskryp12» masterfully plays with suspense and builds a wall of sounds, slowly and methodically blossoming from the very quiet and abstract to a room buzzing with manipulated sounds of unamplified electric guitar sounds. «Stak» distills Rasian’s sonic architecture to a seductive beat while eliminating nearly all traces of the original performance. The last piece «S at the Gates» closes the album with a dark and unsettling, quiet and mysterious coda.
Listening to Distorted Rooms demands a deep dive into the unknown, letting go of your listening habits but guarantees Radian’s most rewarding way of reconfiguring our awareness of sounds in time and space.
Martin Brandlmayr (drums, electronics, synthesizer), John Norman (bass), Martin Siewert (guitars, electronics), Dieb13 (turntables)