Repetition is a powerful force. The opening track on Hopen‘s What’s Happened to Mat Collishaw? may prove too powerful for some. It’s a tight loop of a voice. The voice says, “New York City.” This being a loop, the voice, which could be that of a train conductor or bus driver, says it again. And again. The track is titled “New York, Do You Understand?” and at almost three and a half minutes in length, it is Steve Reich as interpreted by the literal-minded — or, perhaps not. In time, that loop does evidence change, the hallucinated transformations that occur as patterns become immersive. It draws attention to all the accentuated moments and tonal markers that have absolutely nothing to do with language and textual meaning, and everything to do with sound (MP3).
There’s a stark, brash, nerve-shattering interruption shortly into the otherwise lightly metronomic “3 PM,” track two of the EP’s three — after that kicked bucket, sure to spike your volume meter and your arm hair, comes a beeping, churning, rattling roil. It’s a repetition free of the stasis inherent in true repetition — it’s the fractured repeat of a defeated machine, maybe a laser printer on the fritz (MP3).
And then comes the perhaps inevitable combination: the closing track, “Early.” It has no formal repetition, but instead the broken beat of something that has the nuance of the repeated (a voice like a sample; drum pads that fail to kick in, until they do, at which point they spasm), but that declines to do the expected. The “New York City” tape reappears, buried in and eventually piercing the mix (MP3). Amid the chaos, the voice may even be welcome.