Review Summary: Gasp language
Tarquin Manek’s thought process has been described as “[radiating] a cold and latent violence
.” With Tarquin Magnet
, it’s clear that this trait is more effective when the medium is erratic, prone to outbursts and never really
letting you settle into a reliable safe zone. And while prone, Manek refuses to fly off the handle; his Blackest Ever Black solo debut is subdued, but with a twisted mindset trying to keep itself under wraps.
On “Sassafras Gesundheit”, Manek builds a dystopian suspense, and stretches it out like taffy. He takes a saxophone out of expressive territory, drenching it in synth and employing it mainly in rhythm and texture (though there are poignant melodies in the backdrop). Though gripping at first, the catchy main sax-synth-thing line lacks the percussive punch to carry the opener the full thirteen minutes, and its relentlessness forces the rest of the song’s elements through a funnel. At its midpoint, the track dips below the surface, forcing the saxophone to the edge of earshot, giving the ancillary concréte noises and stray instruments a wider berth. Manek has a talent for subtle textural tweaking, but underplays it by drawing our gaze to the repetitive lead riff. Off the path, there’s plenty to enjoy: jittery violins, fascinating electroacoustics, playful woodwinds, and so on. “Perfect Storm”, Magnet
’s other juggernaut, features deep, watery pulses, industrial rattles, and a constantly-morphing soundscape that fucks up barometers and dilates pupils.
It’s difficult to gauge Magnet
’s success, as its functionality is so vague. As with 2014’s Mince Glace
(an album by Tarcar, of which Manek is a member), Magnet
takes various musical styles out of context, weaving together sounds that have no business existing in the same 35-minute space. Somehow, the tracks segue into each other sensibly, yet with each song having a different feel. “Fortunes Past” is a brief follow-up to the mammoth opener, consisting of what resembles a flock of power-electronics, rubbery bongos, and an ominous public address system trying to reign in the hysteria - it matches the chasmic dub of “Sassafras Gesundheit” oddly well. “Fortunes Begun” is more deliberate, with each bell toll carrying a rich, haunting timbre. While examples like these make for an unpredictable listening experience, the jack-of-all-trades approach doesn’t always complement the obscure moods; a lack of sharp dynamics makes the eclectic compositions feel a bit wandering and grey. In a way, it fits the theme. Tarquin Magnet
, while occasionally quite captivating, is too contemplative, never dropping the trapdoor. Strangely, with each successive listen, the noose fits a little bit snugger.