Solo albums by pop musicians are gauged by their guest stars. Solo albums by field-recording artists are gauged by their source material. On Realms, newly available for free download from the estimable wanderingear.com netlabel, those source materials include the sounds of boat masts, voice, rain, amplified room ambience, fireworks, a refrigerator, flies, birds, street noise, a cat, a fan heater, and a harmonica. Realms is credited to the London-based Adam J Wimbush (aka Ascsoms).
After Ascsoms’s processing, those sampled sounds aren’t always recognizable. “Realm D (In Loquaciousness Lay Insanity)” seems like it’s infested with small buzzing lifeforms, but it’s not the one with the fly sounds (MP3). Birds are vaguely discernible on “Realm C (The Permeated Anomaly)” as they chirp away as if in some infested, squalor aviary, where the place is so on the fritz that the automated announcements have degraded (MP3).
The real standout on the four-track set is the lead piece, “Realm A (Rococo),” which is the one that includes rain and boat masts and, perhaps explaining its achievement in ambiguity, what’s described succinctly as “unidentified field recording.” About halfway through a track marked by richly layered noise and churning rhythms, the majority of the sound suddenly drops out and about all that’s left is this cycling beat, like a rusty old machine clanking away in some back room while thunder is heard overhead (MP3). The moment is stark, and it focuses the ear on the inner workings of Ascsoms’s approach to manipulating individual sonic objects.