New Release! Ava by Awk Wah

I think we can all agree that holding vinyl in your hands is very satisfying, and this translucent redwood is an absolute beauty. That sense is further enhanced and sits together well with the vibes of Ava, a new album by avant-noise and experimental electronics artist, Awk Wah.

Awk Wah’s music is based on manipulated samples and beats, and augmented by ritualistic live percussion, charting the meeting points of avant-garde, experimental, and techno music …

(from the press release)

Leaping away from the twisted monolithic vision forged in his noisy 2011 debut Opera Box, Awk Wah returns with an exquisite new work. Listening to Ava is akin to trekking through unknown territory, each track a different region of alien environment, like a grittier, more turbulent version of the Future of Sound of London’s 1994 ambient classic, Lifeforms. There is a sense of sonic adventurism that charts the meeting points of avant-garde, experimental, and techno music – comparable to what contemporary artist-producers like Raime, Helm, Lee Gamble and Jar Moff are doing.

On Ava, tracks like “Rhea”, “Oneiros”, and “Dazzling Spinoza” evoke ceremonial drums in a dark, primordial jungle; “Spineless”, “Hello On-tik”, and “Thex” raise the spectre of a dystopian industrial landscape littered with roaring furnaces; “Making Happy” and “Ominhex” are weirder still, their electronic beats an uneasy sort of dance, marking an ambiguous space between the pleasure of a groove and the ticking of a bomb. The big shifts in sound can be attributed to Awk Wah’s newfound use of the Roland SP-555 sampler in addition to his, by now, signature spider-like percussion work. Sound elements both synthetic and organic are sparsely overlaid; free rolling percussion, clangorous cymbals, nihilistic techno beats are used to compelling effect. At times, Awk Wah’s use of repetition in electronic beats, acoustic percussion – even the rhythmic feedback of a sampled radio in “Thex” – has the curious similarity to the echolocation function of sonar systems in search of an invisible intruder; there is something hypnotic about it, but equally a sense of imminent danger.

Conceptually, the album is named after Avalokitasvara – the Sanskrit form of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy – and a word that literally means ‘perceiver of the sounds (cries) of the world’. What on a mytho-spiritual level evokes the compassion of a deity for humankind, is transposed in Ava into the sensitive act of keen listening to create vast and looming sound worlds – ones of ritualistic beats, distressed squelches, and powerful distortion. With his second album, Awk Wah cements his place as an outsider music genius, with rich insights to share with those willing to listen in to the cosmos with him.

The album is available in digital and vinyl format.

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