Cardiff-based composer Adrian Shenton’s “Houseworks” begins with “Housepulse”, a headphones-friendly length of cottony buzzing and rotating pulses. Next is “All the Tea in China” which joins rusted scraping with a mushy metallic shifting- think of a cow’s eye rolling around in a paint can. Later we hear a geothermal pumping of wind (“The Kitchen Has a Point of View”) and textured, yawning yerrowwlls reverberating across blasted topography on “Househum”.
By now the album name and song titles should give a good indication of what Shenton’s up to. The music on “Houseworks” is born from manipulated sounds found around the home. I love the idea: Cageian in spirit, Shenton hones in on the common sounds that constantly surround us and then recasts them. It’s the inverse of David Byrne’s musical building instillations. Shenton isn’t amplifying the space; he’s collecting subtle noise (humming, clocks, rain) with a butterfly net and meticulously boosting, layering, and morphing the signals.
Unless you reside in an abandoned warehouse, the end product doesn’t sound much like a typical home. The amplified appliances and workshop clatter make for an ambient industrial music filled with ratcheting, ventilating, and endless mechanical indifference. A less aggressive early Einstürzende may have made similar sounds.
Even if the ambient source marital won’t allow the record to square off with you directly, the bleak and grimy rolling pulse on a song like “Beathing the Bounds (4 Walls)” creates a claustrophobic and stifling psychological sensation. Though tracks are at times overlong and sonic uniformity sets in too soon, the theory and execution of Shenton’s concept makes “Houseworks” a fixer upper worth spending time in. Bonus: there’s knife sharpening. 7/10 -- Mike Pursley (9 September, 2009)