Something That Has Form and Something That Does Not

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The continuing project of On -- where each new release by the duo of Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess becomes a remix collaboration with another artist -- reaches another peak with the release of Something That Has Form and Something That Does Not. There's a simple but key reason -- this time around, the collaborator is Fennesz, the noted Austrian guitarist/soundscape creator who thrives in partnerships as much as he does on his own. Hearing the high, persistent feedback scrawl on the opening "The Inconsolable Polymath" almost marks his participation from the start, but the best partnerships find ways to meet in the middle; the floating drones and calm piano suggest, however subtly, something different from the invited guest. From there the album progresses with five tracks of varying length, with a crumbling wash of sonics set against a calm, sudden precision that could come from any of the participants -- the arcing whine of something almost mechanistic on "Blank Space," the metronymic yet still almost strangely unstable cymbal hits on "A Tardy Admission That the Crisis is Serious." The title track's use of percussion starting almost five minutes in after an extended drone/loop opening is a nice enough touch of drama, but even more appealing when it makes the music sound like a murkier, late Talk Talk instrumental. Meanwhile, the concluding "The Sound of White" might be the most opaque of the five tracks -- less obviously a collaboration between two different acts than something else again, a flowing movement over 20 minutes of a bright loop, implied rhythms without beats, and the occasional chime.

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