From its sound to its presentation, this is as much scientific experimentation as it is something to vaguely consider music. The track titles and stark, back cover–that looks more like a lab report than an album cover–are indicative of a work that is heavily focused on conceptualism. For the most part, the experiments work taken out of context as compositions, with a few hang-ups along the way.
The entire A side of this LP is taken by "Material Study 01 (Sand)," a recording of a buried hydrophone recorded directly to MiniDisc as Pollard stood directly on top of it, shifting his weight occasionally. The result is a textural piece that emphasizes slow scraping and rubbing noises, sometimes sounding more like overly amplified vinyl surface noise, building to an almost rhythmic throb before ending.
The B side begins with "Material Study 02 (Cello and Jacket)," based upon the sound of a contact mic'd cello being dropped to a carpeted floor, then processed via guitar pedals and computer software. In this case, it bears absolutely no resemblance to its source, but instead is shaped into a low-end sustained passage that builds into a higher pitched sound later on. It is overall more consistent and has its own understated rhythm to it.
"Spatialisation Study 01" is four tones played via a home stereo and captured via seven positions in a home, with the results combined into a single eight minute piece. As "Material Study 02," the composition makes for an infinitely stretching, almost ringing sound that is heavy on the low end, with only the most subtle of variations being heard until it spreads and becomes denser.
Based upon the same session, Pollard uses audio clicks from the previous piece on "Spatialsation Study 02," replayed and recaptured via the same room-based setup. They are shaped into a percussive piece that sounds at first like the dying quivers of a drum machine, and then a wall of noise, consisting of all 49 sounds layered atop one another. The final piece, "A Pencil Rubbing for the Album Cover," is self-explanatory: a recording captured via contact mic'd paper. As blunt as its title is, the sound follows suit: a collection of scrapes and muffled noises that sounds exactly like a paper being sketched upon.
With the back cover almost clinically outlining what was used to create these recordings, down to the North Face jacket that appeared in "Material Study 02," the source and inspiration for these recordings is never obscured or hidden. For the most part, the material here could be divorced from those technical details and underlying conceptual ideas and still work as a strong acoustimatic composition. It is only at times, such as on the side-long "Material Study 01" and the final piece where the concept outshines the sound, with the former drifting into formless, repetitive territory, and the latter simply being too straight forward to be compelling. Between these two, however, is a wealth of material that works on both a conceptual and enjoyable level, and overshadows any of the album's shortcomings.