It's perhaps coincidence that Rob Hayler‚Äôs most recent tape release has coincided with the recent disassembly, and retiring, of his legendarily No Audience Underground Midwich alias. A single piece, assembled from source material from fellow UK Noise / drone player Ian Watson, Metronome is a blurred cut and mix of smudged digital / analogue tin and tape wreckage.
Passing over the questions of ownership, design, purpose and who-did-what-with-what-intent, this duo's collaboration has a familiarly discordant and heavy sense of Nurse With Wound throughout‚Äîbut without the mischievous sense of exploration. Multiple manipulated mantelpiece clocks bob and float under washes of digital scrub, Watson‚Äôs coppery sources cast into and submerged in and out of a layer of burning acid wash. The spine of the piece is a selection of lopsided loops that could have once been patterns, but whatever they once were they've now been anvil coaxed out of shape like hobnail wearing bent-backed and chained wraiths. The atmosphere is negative one, the cold of clang and clamor giving Metronome a digital brittleness. Hayler's woozy orbit sets the sound's heads dipping in and out of the aforementioned scald, the metronome swept from its clock like tick into a lapping of ugly tidal washes.
As a shorter soundscape, Metronome may have had scope for a possible bleak beauty but at nearly 44 minutes long this is stretched a little too far. Without enough variation, and too many familiar aural phrases welded from a relatively narrow palette, the final third of Metronome can feel more of a climb than a journey.