In the past few years, Mike Griffin has been perfecting his own personal blend of musique concrete and harsh noise in his suburban basement studio. His output has appeared mostly in the form of limited tapes and CDRs, but Pilot's Salt is his first fully-fledged LP release. Pared with the recently released Tovarich tape, both releases make for excellent introduction to his ever-growing discography.
The two pieces that make up the first half of Pilot's Salt are different in their overall sound but are tied together with certain repeating motifs. What sounds like clattering trains and dying machinery stretch between both pieces, but the first composition, "Recombinant Field", focuses on Griffin's use bleeping vintage synth pulses and feedback that bounces between restrained and piercing. On "Sufis Wandering the Causeway" many of those same sounds appear, but comparably the piece is more vast and expansive, letting the sounds ring out clearly in a hollow space.
On the other side, "Pilot's Salt" functions as a brief prelude to the remainder of the record, in the form of three minutes of out of tune radio noise, undulating bass and frozen car horn like drones. It fades out quick and leads right into "Pulverized Concrete on the Rim of a Coffee Cup," a more menacing leviathan of buzzing electronics and a bowed string-like blast of noise. It largely stays within the sparser structure that characterized "Sufis" but over a longer duration. Crackling textures and sweeps of noise keep things creepy, with the occasional jarring outburst to function nicely as a jump scare tactic.
The material that makes up Tovarich seems to be culled from the same sessions as Pilot's Salt, and thus works as a brilliant accompanying recording. "Double Wide Hippocampus" sees Griffin bringing back the car horn sounds again, mixed in with idling synth drones and pitch bent tape squeals. It keeps a rising/falling dynamic, and ends in a brilliantly bleak industrial din. In comparison, "Analog Shock Technique" is simpler and minimalist. Tentative electronic buzzing and loads of echo and delay result in a spacey, more psychedelic sound.
On the other side of the tape, the 15 minute "Fossilized Car" is all guttural, scraping scree and rudimentary synthesizer progressions. It lurches along like some primordial beast but never stays still, constantly blending the individual sonic elements as the composition trudges along. It brings back the slowly dying machine vibe mixed with the spacy sci-fi outbursts and noise blasts, resulting in a piece that is sometimes jerky and jumpy, but brilliant nonetheless.
Mike Griffin's work as Parashi has shown different characteristics on previous releases; sometimes harsh, sometimes psychedelic, but both Pilot's Salt and Tovarich represent some of his most consistent and fully realized work to date. By no means was his work lacking in the past, but this pair is rich with alternating harshness, beauty, and deep studies of sound and sonic textures, and done brilliantly.