Sutro Transmissions by Thomas Dimuzio

Thomas Dimuzio | Sutro Transmissions
Resipiscent (LP w/DL)

I’ve been listening to Thomas Dimuzio for over two decades, and he was already making sounds for eleven years at that point – so it’s great to catch-up with one of his ear-quenching works for early ’20 release! After some tabulation, I think Sutro Transmissions is his eighth full-length, however he’s produced countless collaborations (Dan Burke, Voice of Eye, David Lee Myers, etc) as well. The new work, an all Buchla-synthesizer album, consists of two lengthy pieces, one per side, starting with Lower Haight. Full of quizzical distortions and smoothing, layered synthy transgressions – you are surrounded by hypnotics from out of the gate.

Tweaked voices are shaken, not stirred, as if you are on radio dial hyperdrive. The ghost in the machine lurks and pivots from earshot, and once quieted fills the room with a foggy drone that elongates into sinewy shapes. This is nothing at all like his work from the mid 90’s, nor like anything previous really. Though it shows off his talent as a true sound sculptor, an artist whose modality is auditory ‘clay’ so to speak. This moves in and out of ambient and noise-driven passages with a knowing sense of grace, and a cheshire smile.

My ears detect the subtleties when he works in the more quiet areas, and offers unexpected left turns (about a dozen minutes in). This is where he really shines, like the master of one of those on-your-hind-legs horror soundtrack composers, ready to pounce at the trip of a switch. But this comes sans gore, and full of true wonderment. The entire second half are like a series of strange decoded messages floating in space.

Once we move to the b-side and Upper Haight the blurred reality of location, of grounding is even more disengaged, disrupted and otherwise a conundrum for the senses. The fluttering sounds like coagulation, as if its changing from liquid to solid state, and back again, a mid-metamorphic fluctuation. And while the piece is fully active, it stops short of being industrial or in any way derivative of something particularly machine-made. Instead, Sutro Transmissions falls in this between space that has a life of its own, with memory banks only gently hinting at buoyant humanity just outside a thin perimeter. I think I can overhear a voice saying “don’t worry”. It poses that we may just be located inside a capsule, a container of some kind. Though this doesn’t, either, come off as a trite sci-fi knock-off.

The results here are more like an old-fashioned radio play where the ear (and all senses) are fully engaged and piecing together the possibilities (up to interpretation, of course). Dimuzio has a special way of keeping the observer thinking (and listening), without tropes or overly obtuse references by way of effects-driven sound, instead he plays on nuances of the un/conscious. It’s a stunning effort that is worthy of further exploration, and deep contemplation.

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