If you’ve been following Arek Gulbenkoglu’s recorded work over the past six years, or so, you’ll have come to expect a certain consistency in surprise, a capacity for his small-run CD-Rs, and two LPs on Penultimate Press, to catch the listener unawares. It’s not so much that his approach is sui generis, though I think you could make a pretty convincing argument for this, if you were so inclined. It’s more to do with a very particular sensibility – perhaps even a broader ideological position on the possibilities of organised sound, much as that may read as glibly academic in tone. This is someone who knows what they want, and what they’re doing.
This isn’t to say that Gulbenkoglu himself isn’t surprised by what he does. (I’ve never thought to ask, for one thing.) This new cassette, cDDe, can sound as though Gulbenkoglu is only just a step ahead of his material, which is what makes it such a compelling listen: there’s a tender dance going on between the sound elements at play, and the organisational logic Gulbenkoglu is pursuing here (or not, as the case may be). The first side is panoramic, in some ways, or at least modular, interstitial; the second side is self-contained, worrying away, repeatedly, at a limited palette of material.
It’s hard to find comparisions for Arek’s work, and I really don’t want to; but I can sense a shared approach, or sympathy, with Joe Colley/Crawl Unit, Rudolf Eb.er, the b-side’s reiterations make me think a bit of Max Eilbacher, maybe, and perhaps there are some unexpected parallels – Tim Elzer’s Don’t Dolby project; the curious blankness of Takahiro Hirama. But these are just hints, inklings, clues; the only terrain cDDe truly covers is its own.