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Review

Thermal + Seofon

A Monument of Chance

Thermal and Seofon, otherwise known as Joshua Maremont and Jeff Kihn, are long-time participants in the San Francisco chill-room scene. Having collaborated for over six hours at the first recorded A-TOI performance, plans were drawn up for a more formal joint project, which became the basis for this release.

Ouster Swarm begins as echoing factory-noise—dulled and muted in the distance. Dark ambience swirls around remote noises, evading the listener. Slight beats interrupt the continuous drones, and traces of eastern instruments and western drum patterns appear and disappear as the piece gradually develops into an engrossing, worldly, noisy, atmospheric track of epic proportions.

Application of Buddhistic Classics is similarly structured but makes its presence heard far sooner. Eastern riffs mingle with sparse electronics and elaborate drumming along the lines of an overtly ambient Banco de Gaia track. As the piece evolves, the beats gradually take over—whistling loops and electronics becoming background accompaniment to the hypnotic rhythms.

A Toy Ascending the Tidal Current Mixture echoes both of the previous pieces, but contains a noticeably darker edge as the various instruments swirl around themselves. The space created by this piece is immense—akin to radios in an empty warehouse; the music is once again hypnotic and involving.

Manipulated 'footage' from performance work by Freezer and an A-TOI live piece combine to make Another Tank Farm by Trolley. This is the most abstract of the four, yet it still retains both a playfulness in the occasional rhythms and an intensity in the sounds.

A Monument of Chance is a fantastic collection of orchestrated experimentation and rhythm. Within it one can find elements of ambient music, classical, snatches of chilled-out electronica, and muted industrial tones; however, the magic happens within their combination—by Thermal and Seofon's ability to manipulate sound and explore composition. The results are often intense, sometimes eerie, occasionally graceful, and always engaging and full of realised potential.

Craig Grannell (February, 2000)

Cover artwork