It’s silly to give Placid Places a three-star rating. This is not the sort of album that should be measured according to a scale. It is art – to be experienced, and then reacted to.
Partly because of that, most people will hate it.
But this is not for most people. Sound art, experimental electronica, industrial noise – take your pick. It’s not exactly toe-tapping stuff. Take the first track, Pool Weakness. It’s 20 minutes of fuzz, buzz, and drone – as if someone has amplified the sound of an untuned television set and laid it over the top of a malfunctioning food processor interrupted by exploding fuses.
Yeah, you’ve guessed it – it’s hard to describe. The next track, Pocket Temptation, weighs in at a breezy ten minutes and leans heavily on a resonating sonar-like hum. Through the three remaining tracks, you can add blizzard sounds, disjointed piano, the quiet bubbling of water, and more disconcerting industrial noise to the mix. It all adds up to a feeling of unease, despite the title’s claim to placidity, as the listener is immersed in a soundscape of machinery.
Alok probably won’t reach a wide audience with this release, but he continues his long-held role as a provocateur of the senses and a pusher of Hong Kong’s musical boundaries. And for that, he’ll always be one of our favourites.
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