(New Album Review) Ifsh- Be Locus // Be Limpid

Ryan Stuewe, a visual artist, percussionist, and sound artist based out of Portland, Oregon, uses his project Ifsh as a vehicle for alternately ethereal and pulverizing tape collage. Big Ear Tapes is an imprint specializing in exactly that sort of thing, run by my show-buddy Sundial, also based in Portland. It was practically inevitable that these guys would cross paths. The fruit of their meeting is Be Locus // Be Limpid, a two-part concrete odyssey of both carefully-arranged found sounds and original performances by Ifsh himself.

What I’ve noticed about Big Ear Tapes over time is how their releases tend to make the choice to never stray too far from popular music when it comes to source material. By way of hypnotic loops and mutilating distortions, disparate sound sources not only form cosmic drones but evoke dub reggae and chopped and screwed hip-hop as much as all that acousmatic esoterica and ambient soundscaping. That’s definitely the case with Ifsh’s Be Locus // Be Limpid, which wildly races from the hypnagogic meshing of deafening echoes to makeshift gamelan to muffled electronica to floating minimal passages with a deft eclecticism. And by the time we wind up at the tail-end of Side B, Ifsh knows to dial the violence down in order to give a breathy ballad its space. As it disappears from view, it gently unravels. The dream ceases to be. Phillip Jeck would be impressed for sure.


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