“All percussions and concussions created by Daniel Menche.” So says the inner sleeve and truer words were never spoken. What starts out sounding like a cover version of Steve Reich's Drumming—layer upon layer of pulsating percussion patterns—rapidly escalates into a thunderous inferno of Dionysian proportions. Once a gargantuan level of density is reached and the listener finds him/herself wholly trapped at the center of the vortex, the relentless onslaught becomes a Rorschach, its pummeling throb resembling the amplified patter of pelting rain at one moment and the violent thrum of rabid animal scratching the next. Disc one's track seven sounds as if the Portland-based sound artist placed a microphone at the center of a roaring fireplace or a hornet's nest (no surprise that the title of Menche's 1993 debut is Incineration).
Still, though Concussions adheres to its strict conceptual principle throughout, contrasts regularly emerge during the twenty untitled tracks. Patterns mirror one another in disc one's track three as their repetitions alternate from left to right while track four gathers them up and drops them into the center of a hellish cauldron, reducing them to a howling mass. It's at such moments that Menche's repudiation of the label 'noise artist' for 'sound sculptor' has merit and his so-called quest for 'vehement beauty' achieved. Interestingly, though the churning Concussions generally makes Reich's Drumming seem a microsound outing by comparison, Menche's drumming patterns move in and out of sync with one another in a manner that's not wholly unlike its renowned precursor. Yes, it's an overwhelming experience—literally so when the two discs total 114 minutes—and not a ride I plan on taking more than once, yet incredible nonetheless. Review from Textura.