By Clara Tehrani
Ever so often, when routine gets too sticky to stand, I go to a record shop and just flip through records in search of something new. One of the latest digging sessions produced a very fruitful encounter: Chambers, the latest work by WSR released on Contort late November 2016.
It’s WSR’s second release and his first full-length album. While the previous Stainless (also on Contort, 2015) was somewhat more contained, Chambers feels wild, instinctive, raw. There are the drones and their echoes, the beautifully unpolished metallic sound of bespoke strings instruments he himself builds, and the sort of brutal energy only live recordings can have.
In a day and age when most of the sounds to which we are exposed are generated by computer algorithms, Chambers feels different. Relying greatly on field recordings, WSR challenges the borders of acoustic music when accentuated by resonance and synthetic rhythms. The architecture of the tracks, the name, the cover art where lines draw planes that draw spaces, the instruments modified to transcend expectations of its musical behaviour — it all falls into place when we realise Chambers is a tribute to reverberation.
Drawing from his own experience when moving in between Florence where he’s originally from, Manchester where he studied Sound Design and Engineering, and Berlin where he now lives, Emanuele Porcinai, the man behind WSR, became ever more fascinated with the influence a space has over sound: not only does it impact the artist emotionally (and thus indirectly the music being produced), it also has a direct influence on the output as the same pitch will sound different depending on the room its being played back onto. Chambers might have well been his way to purge the conflict between the obsessive-compulsive need to control of sound and the impossibility to do so.
“Conceived within intimate spaces, baring the flaws and imperfections of physically performed material, by exasperating its resonance within enclosed environments,” as the label puts it, Chambers has the sort of rough realness that sets it apart from most of its contemporary productions. It is a set of eight tracks with fully charged anguish and a rebellious acceptance of the ever-shifting balance between order and chaos. From the soft opening track All Your Lies to the heavy-hearted final Descent, the album feels allegory of life, the growling of the rooms in which its parts were recorded imprinting unique patterns of reverberations, impossible to reproduce, as the echoes of our thoughts are modulated, shaped, distorted by random obstacles it encounters. Noteworthy are Carved Out, in which the haunted screams of the manipulated strings are as beautiful as they are scary over the industrial backdrop; and These Buildings Will Outlive Us where the violent noise that results from the over-use of filters almost bruises the soul with its magnificence.
It comes as little surprise that despite his short career, Porcinai is so highly regarded by the EBM community: from both his releases as WSR on Contort (Samuel and Hayley Kerridge’s cult label), to his parallel project Unknot; from his live debut at Atonal in 2015, to the overwhelming performance at OHM in Berlin during the Contort showcase, Emanuele Porcinai keeps giving music what it lacks most nowadays: a soul.