From Toronto to Hong Kong, a sense of disquietude hangs over public spaces, infiltrating the minutiae of day-to-day life. While the “threat” is not online per se, the psychological consequences of a full-scale migration of social life to the digital realm are slowly revealing themselves. In reducing the exchange of oxytocin to a series of 0’s and 1’s, it seems inevitable that social alienation emerges as the prevailing symptom of contemporary human life.
Although Oscar Chiu, the real online threat, developed the material on his debut album Contrapuntal Transfigurations last year, the release feels prescient of humanity’s current state. With Contrapuntal Transfigurations, The Toronto-based producer “reflects upon the internalization of cyclical societal violence which surfaces in the modes of worship (hope) and grief (loss).” As such, Chiu’s productions carry a sense of gravity, confronting the listener with the traumatic ‘real’ through an artistic interpretation of processes that work to disintegrate the unity of the self.
Chiu’s approach to sound design follows an abstract narrative form hinged upon de-contextualized sonic artifacts that re-frame the way in which the listener identifies with particular s0unds. On lead single “Sacri,” we enter a sonic landscape rife with the detritus of club music tropes. A sense of urgency pervades as Chiu litters discrepant samples amongst a backdrop of discombobulated synths, rumbling low-end and simulated DJ FX. Chiu’s process is not far off from the deterritorialized experiments of Elysia Crampton or Aïsha Devi, who approach contemporary electronic music through the lens of spirituality and folk traditions. Similarly, Chiu’s music sounds as though it could “exist in the ancient past as well as the distant future”- his maximalist productions invoking pseudo-sacred ritual and accelerated technologies, alike.
Contrapuntal Transfigurations is out 08/05/20 on Absurd TRAX. Pre-order it here.
Mastering by Nerve
Artwork by Carson Teal & Mary Chen