phase inversion

MYSTERY SEA 51 CD (Belgium, 2009)


01. dispersion trajectory
02. membrane formation
03. spectral remnants


Three tracks of moderate fluctuations of sound in temporal space, infected by the occasional far from equilibrium interventions to diversify the stasis. Research notes: Most structural compositions of phase inversion have focused on slow shifts in macrotonal formations, while the rich microstructure has received little independent attention. Presented here is a mystified and emotive soundscape of possible microstructures formed on the basis of margin transformations, kinetic ties, and spatial considerations. Special attention is given to the microstructural features resulting from a three-stage phase separation. Subsequently, these considerations are extended to the microstructure of the inner ear and that of its corresponding neurocellular boundaries. Finally, the features of actual phase inversion structures are heard, imagined and hence interpreted. Phase inversion can be regarded as a form of the instability in the composer, the stability of the process being least at the point of mental projection. On the other hand, knowledge of the phase inversion point is essential in the preparation of dispersions in order to obtain the desired listening effect. The fundamental difficulty in understanding phase inversion lies in the problem of conceptualising the actual mechanism behind the process. Various recording and sound assembly methods are used to generate a trajectory in phase space, which samples from a chosen array of possibilities. This constitutes the random motion of the sounds within the dispersion lattice.


For Mystery Sea, John Grzinich has plunged deep into its own creative process to come back with “phase inversion”, an haunting & soothing thorough sound litany… Sinking slowly within, oscillating slightly, in a continuous imperturbable movement at the heart of an unseen core lies a point of entry, a source of multiple diffractions… Rubbings, vesperal sighs, microcollisions, metallic asperities, elemental debris, tiny fragments recombine in a wordless score… “phase inversion” turns things upside down, makes Below becoming the Above, draws a precise, refined outline where each detail is like the echo of a new path… a cognitive retraction… > Daniel of MS

Review by Brian Olewnick, from Just Outside

John Grzinich’s Phase Inversion is a giant murmuring, always on the verge of blooming, though largely because it seems always to be fading, growing darker the deeper it dives, where steel scrapes and gray glitches break its surface and paradoxically makes the cold, barren atmosphere more intimate. If the climate of three works here is somewhat cryptic, it is a good deal more inescapable. Pieces pass with an incessant, circular motion, but it’s a motion done on the spot, heading nowhere. The first selection is the strongest. A solemn undertow spaded with placid tones hovers in the distance. A deceptively mischievous manner appears to hold it in place, though steadily it encroaches, not so much transforming as revealing a network of growling mechanical distortions occasionally pocked with echoing synthetic pings. The closing pair of works are hewn from the same dark matter, but their rubbings are more feint, corroded, as though they now stood at a certain distance from themselves. As fine as they are, there is a sense in which they aren’t quite heavy enough to fully make good on the potential of the albums initial stirrings. This remains, still, a fine example of Grzinich’s never overwhelming, but far from benevolent, rattling streams of sonic distillation.
Max Schaefer

jgrzinich is a name that’s been hovering around the edges of my attention for quite some time now but it took the ever wonderful Mystery Sea label to finally wave him in front of me. Phase Inversion is a set of three contrasting compositions. The first, ‘Dispersion Trajectory’, is a long undulating drone marked by the addition of skitteringly amorphous insectile sounds. The second, ‘Membrane Formation’, is a melding of washing tone and drone with clattering and sawing instrumentation and the third, ‘Spectral Remnants’, is a short, gentle set of gong-like tonal ripples. I found the first to be a little too cold and remote for my tastes the slow addition of the scuttling extra sounds helps open the track up but I prefer a little more warmth in my music. The second is easily my favourite track here. It seems fairly minimal in it’s strategies but there’s a humanity to it’s composition that envelops the listener. The final track offers a small coda to the album that’s perfectly formed and full of interest but is a little too brief to fully immerse oneself in. If I have seemed a little negative towards this album then I apologise. It’s fair to say that Phase Inversion isn’t my favourite album this month as, for the most part, it all feels a little too clinical for my tastes and I struggling to hear the composers personality but, it is extremely well made and most definitely a worthwhile listen as are all Mystery Sea releases.
Ian Holloway from Wonderful Wooden Reasons

Among the genuine masters of this game, acquired Estonian John Grzinich gives a showing of his strength with a gorgeous accumulation of drones and found objects, the latter mostly verging on the softly metallic/distantly clattering side of concreteness. The record presents exactly what was expected, this commentator well acquainted with a good number of the artist’s past releases (published on the best labels in this field, from Cut to Sirr, to Elevator Bath – you name it, he’s been there); yet there’s something distinguishing his work which is called class. I don’t know how to explain it, this has probably to do with a deeper perception of the vibrating particles of a particular source, or the shape of a chosen environment, or maybe just comes from a highly developed inner ear. A Jgrzinich drone sounds dissimilar from a regular buzzing hum: it appears more like the layering of a thousand desolate murmurs bathed in amniotic liquid.

The static façade hides hundreds of inherent movements, muted throbs, sub-harmonic changes that nevertheless make the whole sound as an immobile stifled choir, silently spreading resonances which, in conjunction with the dissipating energies represented by those faraway rattles and clangs, represent a memento of how to behave ourselves in front of the vague, a symbol of the unconcern we should always demonstrate when the worst is approaching, be it the fear of an uncertain future or the sheer notion of death. Perhaps a record like Phase Inversion could help someone to get in touch with that inside dimension which is inevitably left aside when one is intent in “living” by filling the brain with figments of imagination and innumerable illusions, only to be given a final bill at the end, still ill-equipped and even more frightened.

In actual fact, life itself is a phase inversion. On the contrary, many people are convinced of giving lessons to others, not realizing that what they believe to have “invented” is just the chewed-up remnant of a truth that everybody sees in a wholly individual way – all of them completely wrong – and that will finally rape everyone’s abstruse beliefs concerning human evolution and a presumed afterlife – not to mention reincarnation – except for the obvious transformation of the corporal matter into food for worms (or ash, if you’re sophisticated enough) and energy into some substance that might be useful or less, according to the quintessence of that erstwhile “being”.
– Massimo Ricci

If the staunch trajectory of Phase Inversion is a testament to anything, it is that John Grzinich cares about the environments that he is so evidently finely tuned into. I can picture him traversing Estonia where he now resides, painstakingly seeking out freshly discarded materials, ransacking through a post-industrial squat for objects to clang together, testing the acoustic parameters of a newly discovered sonic environment. And in all honesty, if he were to call you up one day to partake in an organic matter and sheet metal jam within the walls of a hollowed out geodesic dome… you’d be foolish to refuse. Like all his work, nicely done. -Adrian Dziewanski of Sacrapyard Forecast

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