[sic] Magazine

Mark Tester – Oblivion Rhythms Revisited

The latest tape in a series dating back to 2016 from Indianapolis-based, experimental electronic producer Mark Tester, Oblivion Rhythms Revisited variously recalls the artist’s experiences at Midwestern club nights, DIY sound-collage shows and with trippy New Age exploration. Ambient chiptune given a rhythmic workout during some abstract noise installation, a track like “Grocery Run (‘Thank You’ Bag)” plays like all three and more simultaneously. Tester is fortunately too astute a musician to attempt such a maximal trick often though and Oblivion Rhythms Revisited’s 40 minutes are otherwise largely spent in much more mellow composition, pretty patterning and serene synths rubbing shoulders with repetitive rustles and jaunty bleeps.

It’s often not an easy listen though – on “Temporary Parting Wave”, the uneasy Moog modulations wouldn’t sound out of place on a Tim Hecker album; on the Avant Garde “Ascending Spear”, distorted Mellotron keys are rendered strangely soothing by field-captured bird song.

Much of Oblivion Rhythms Revisited passes as 1-to-2-minute fragments or asides. Punctuating the 18-strong track-listing however come several longer and varied anchor points. The dithering drones of “Liquid Dance Memory Fade Into Mist”, for example, are lent a contemporary edge with stuttering drum machine and fizzy lasers. Pulsing organ and venting valves crowd the vaulted spaces of “Prodigy For Echo No. 1”, multi-tracked loops, creaky FX and drips finding a disorientating calm. 9-minute, barely-there meander “The Invisible Band” encounters sci-fi psych and melodic Eastern chimes in turn, soothing vibraphone cleansing the aura, cosmic winds and peaking tones kneading the knots out of your prefrontal cortex. The most complete recording on the album, “Subconscious Destinations” finally dawns as if in thrall to the ambient IDM of artist like The Field, yet wheezy compressions and oddball ephemera inevitably lead it astray, the sun rising over a pastoral setting on some alien world.

Some musicians keep their audience at arm’s length. As an autobiographical study, Oblivion Rhythms Revisited is an invite inside the inner circle, a portrait of the artist as a young man, a man today, and a man of the near future.

Best track: “Subconscious Destinations”

~Oblivion Rhythms Revisited is released 24th September 2021 via Moon Glyph.~