On his third album as Bionulor, Sebastian Banaszczyk has made an even greater leap into personalizing his sound. While he still focuses on the use of processed and recycled sounds, here there is a sense not only of consistency from piece to piece, resulting in a cohesive album of material, but also a more personal touch, a human element all too often missing from this sort of music
Erik is based entirely upon the composition "Gymnopédies" by Erik Satie, throughout the 15 pieces that make up this album, Banaszczyk keeps with a recurring motif of backward melody from the original composition. The results come across like a childhood memory that has never left. The cover sketch of his hometown seems to round out this piece of nostalgia.
Pieces like "ST.001" and "ST.008" add to the vintage feel of the album. The former's aged crackles obscuring melody and miniscule changes result in an overall intimate sound, while the latter's use of silence with processed melody comes together with a complexity that belies its overall basic structure.
"ST.007" leans more into conventional music sounds, with mangled tones providing the foundation for mostly untreated piano and a dissonant, unidentifiable accompaniment. Similarly, "ST.004"'s seemingly random outbursts of static and music come across like the dying pulses of a radio tower, covering a lot of ground in its rather short duration.
The longest piece, "ST.009", makes good use of its extended duration. Fragile melodies rise and fall before being mangled and pulled together, resulting in a more dissonant, but not overly raw piece. This becomes a cyclic process that keeps a high level of diversity throughout. The following piece also exemplifies this greater sense of complexity, bouncing extremely tiny sounds around a mix together resulting in a piece that feels a bit more collage-like in comparison, but not sloppy or inconsistent.
The only tracks that come across as less engaging are the ones that show little change or variation in their structure, such as the third and final pieces. However, given their short lengths it comes across more like an interlude or a brief experiment rather than an attempt at a fully realized track, so it does not detract from the album as a whole.
I compared the first Bionulor album to the earlier works of Aube, but on Erik, Sebastian Banaszczyk has developed a much stronger identity and personal sound. While the extreme processing and dissection of preexisting sounds can make for an interesting experience, it does not necessarily make for an enjoyable one, but on here it results in a pleasant, but also bold album that hits all the right notes for this kind of sound art.