Whettman Chelmets / qualchan. – Theme∞Variations: EP Review

Whettman Chelmets / qualchan. deliver an experimental split EP.

Released: 2nd October 2020

Label: Strategic Tape Reserve / Bandcamp

Format: Cassette / Digital

Whettman Chelmets has taken the melody from one qualchan. piece and employed techniques of thematic development and variation to produce this experimental EP, showcasing the toolkit available at the hands of today’s competent electronic composers and producers. Often here, the counterpoint of tension and positivity are simultaneous, providing an interesting result erring away from bleakness and abject positivity to something of a middle ground, always providing intrigue.

Opener ‘Home is a Theme’ immediately introduces the recurring theme of tension vs. positivity as dissonance swells under bright melody, serving as accompaniment to a hammering bass kick which ultimately fades to allow melody and harmony to shine. Where melody is present it is simple and satisfying, but Whettman Chelmets’ fondness for dissonance never quite lets the listener find comfort in repetition or predictability.

Drawing on elements of vaporwave and 8-bit rhythm and bass the listener is transported between brightly animated worlds to tortuous and grinding underworlds of distortion and noise. Perhaps perfectly capsulated on ‘Variation 2 – Home is Stabbing’ which opens with a resonant punctuated rhythmic element, reminiscent of Autechre’s minimal works, which then gives way to a simplistic bass melody accompanied by bright, twinkling high tones.

Few instruments are visible in this acousmatic body of work, which makes the use of piano in ‘Variation 4 – Home is a Fugue State’ both refreshing and stark.

Theme∞Variations manages to pack a great amount of exploration into its c. 16 minutes and begs to be listened to on repeat. Through the application of classical technique in a way which wholly deconstructs synthesised sound, Whettman Chelmets achieves thematic variation through both orchestration and melodic adjustment to bring about an elemental, unnerving collection of noise and musical pastiches which demonstrate the open possibility in sonic manipulation.

Whettman Chelmets: Bandcamp / Twitter / Instagram

qualchan. : Bandcamp

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