Arek Gulbenkoglu - The Reoccurrence (self-released)


Purchase The Reoccurrence at ErstDist

In the recent issue of Surround, Arek Gulbenkoglu describes two specific themes that pervade The Reoccurrence. The first involves the lack of “instrumental imprint” and “technical virtuosity”. And appropriately, the nine tracks that comprise this disc are interesting, almost surprisingly so, for the way in which Gulbenkoglu removes himself from the material. There were echoes of this on his Points Alone record a decade ago, mainly from its shortest tracks, but I’m mostly reminded of his untitled recording with Adam Süssmann in 2008. On that album, we hear the two musicians quietly play over the sounds of their environment. The recording itself sounds completely untreated, and what could have easily resulted in a tedious 76 minutes turns into a calming meditation. That same “purity” of sound seems to exist in other works from this Australian scene but it’s so impressively utilized on Gulbenkoglu’s works, and especially with The Reoccurrence, that it’s consequently reframed everything I’ve previously heard in this area of music.

The second theme that characterizes The Reoccurrence involves “our ability to perceive and comprehend the patterns we hear and see in our everyday actions”. It works mutually with the first theme and points the listener to the minutiae of the sounds around us. The record’s two longest pieces, “Part 3” and “Part 7”, are perhaps the clearest examples of such. The former is a field recording of “an elevated point in the gardens”, and Gulbenkoglu is content with letting the confluence of sounds—birds, cars, children, a constant flow of water—shine on their own. The latter takes on a more conceptual approach, tracing “the sound of the walkway, recording of the structure” and solely consists of quiet, low-frequency rumbles for the entirety of its twenty minutes. Both are drastically different but force us to recognize their inherent patterns as well as the tiny differences in rhythm and tone that break them. The sheer length of these pieces helps in fostering such keen perceptibility but the shorter tracks prove just as effective. “Part 2” creatively utilizes an oscillator to translate a topographical map to sine tones while “Part 4” features a constant stream of playfully scintillating objects. Both are, again, different in approach but the result is still a rawness of recording that eventually illuminates the tiny details of sound held within.

A single arrow adorns the cover of The Reoccurrence. It loops around, ending at where it started. In a way, it reflects the sequencing of tracks here; this record is bookended by a pair of songs whose interferences are relatively noticeable. Because of that, the contrast between these tracks and everything in between is only made more obvious. And of course, the circular arrow represents the album’s central thesis: repetition forms discernible patterns which then provides for us the ability to recognize when the pattern is broken. It’s a simple concept, but Gulbenkoglu shows how delightful it can be when executed masterfully.