When Elizabeth Veldon’s submission for Poverty Electronics’ INTENT compilation proved too lengthy, the experimental label released it as a standalone, pay-what-you-will (for charity) album. In some ways, Something Terrible Has Been Born is of a piece with directions the Scotland-based artist has followed for the past few years: quiescent species of drone that sneak up on listeners. Born feels different, to some degree as a measure of the cause it was developed to support but also because it straddles the harsh wall noise Veldon abandoned years ago and the subtle sound design that’s now her garden.
Born rattles, gurgles, and quakes in place, mostly, like a centrifuge rumbling at a distance or alien energy coursing through an asteroid belt. Over 45 minutes, though, shifts and surges in its scraping, vibrating whirr may be discerned: cracks growing in concrete, meteors slipping gravity, bonds loosening, things falling apart. At moments the sonic narrative seems to sprout counter narratives that throb just out of hearing range, as if your laptop speakers have grown separate broadcasting appendages. It’s fascinating to hear, comparable to watching plant slides through a microscope and being too mesmerized to react when you realize that the subject is mutating in dangerous ways.
Born’s cocktail-shaker noise feels representative of the shuddering rage of racial communities under authoritarian siege, the accelerating disintegration of humanity’s through line, and man’s constant inhumanity to man; more important and urgent, perhaps, is that it feels as vital and alive as the will to overcome oppression on so many fronts and in so many venues.