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Alex Keller & Sean O’Neill – Kruos LP (Clear Vinyl)

Elevator Bath

Alex Keller and Sean O’Neill have created performances and installation pieces together since 2015. Using field recordings, vintage telephone test equipment, and magnetic oscillators, among other tools, their work addresses the agents and artifacts of change in the urban (and acoustic) realms. The resultant audio is a potent brew, seamlessly merging drone, musique concrète, phonography, and various electronic intrusions.

“Kruos” is the duo’s debut release. It was developed between December 2016 and February 2017 as a distillation of live performances and as a chronicle of the pair’s speculative investigations. “Kruos” is an assured, bracing study of an invisible landscape, and a wholly absorbing colloquy.

This collaboration began as an exercise in the manipulation of field recordings exclusively. The album’s title, “Kruos,” refers to those early processes, for it is an ancient Greek word meaning frozen or frost, and is the root of the word krustallos, or crystal. The ancient Greeks believed that, like frost, crystal was created by the cold. And similarly, field recordings exist in a kind of crystallized stasis – frozen in time.

The additions of magnetic oscillators and a vintage telecom test synthesizer to their cache have given Keller and O’Neill more time-based control over what happens in a performative setting, while still leaving a great deal to the time-frozen nature of the original field recordings. This remarkable juxtaposition of sound sources, of action and repose, engenders a startling and satisfying listening experience…

“Kruos I” takes the listener on an interior journey, from test equipment to a warehouse, to a medicine cabinet on the Carnival Triumph, to a digital synthesizer: a tense, anxious exploration. “Kruos II” resumes outside, from an urban university’s power plant, to magnetic oscillators, to a pastoral scene on a lake, to a dock on another lake, closing this chronicle at a point of poised stasis (or “kruos”).

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