Monday, January 17, 2011

Rural Route No. 4 - Alex Durlak (Rural Route Series)

Rural Route No. 4

Alex Durlak
Standard Form Records.

SCQ Rating: 72%

You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Catalyst 1’ sets the establishing shot for an intense soundtrack of urban dystopian instead of a reflective study on one’s homeland. In this case they’re one and the same, as Alex Durlak merges both environments – the visceral and personal – over the course of Rural Route No. 4’s reverberating quarters. Meditating solely on a guitar so heavily processed it sounds like a malfunctioning fridge, Durlak nonetheless paves a robust capacity for emoting here by assembling tension from the cut-up samples of guitar, swarming like locusts, on the shape-shifting ‘Catalyst 1’ and the rhythmic slabs of oscillating feedback that stir up ‘Catalyst 3’.

It’s an adverse landscape, sophisticated and daunting, but Durlak’s instincts as a composer aren’t entirely cold. When the digital waves part midway through ‘Catalyst 4’ to reveal a dissection of its percolating layers, listeners are treated to the warm sterility of memories neutralized; those mental images of personal landmarks overwhelmed by a static disinterest, a defensive nostalgia. The catalysts of Rural Route No. 4 seem motivated by a gritty remembrance, not the knowing resignation that other artists have employed, and it results in Rural Route series’ harshest but no less alluring installment.

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