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Helena Celle - Music For Counterflows

Helena Celle Music For Counterflows coverKay Logan is something of a prolific figure in Glasgow's music scene. As part of both Herbert Powell and Anxiety they've blown up the local scene with incendiary angular post-punk and hardcore assaults. Outside of that she is a sound artist working under various pseudonyms including Helena Celle. Music For Counterflows, her latest release, was commissioned by Glasgow's Counterflows contemporary music festival for their online 2021 programme. Based on ideas stemming from the solitude and isolation experienced during the Covid pandemic, Music For Counterflows was created and composed using a synth and the visual programming application MaxMSP. The result was an hour long ever-evolving piece formed from the creation of a programmed musical organism, where she listened and responded intuitively to the output allowing her subconscious reactions to, in a way, complete the circuit. Frank Zappa and the Residents were cited as reference points for the work, but by bringing in the subconscious aspect and the sense of surrealism found within the sounds I would add Nurse With Wound as being another strong contender for influencing this work.

From the Coil-esque hollow knocks of a xylophone and electronic chime it passes into a dreamland funfair of airy tones and excited whoops, through plinky pop piano keys, glitchy, shuffling textures and haunted chime and then further out into more spacey, cosmic dimension undercut with low electronics. From then on in sounds continually dissipate and re-emerge, the result of her intuitive responses to the machine output creating an amorphous free-flowing soundtrack of ricocheting knocks, glitchy, shuffling textures and synthesised squelch and skitters. It's a remarkable piece of work that continually reinvents itself but rarely repeats. At times playful and at others intricate, it's a restless, dynamic composition that gets progressively murkier and almost slips into disarray. At one point the momentum almost ceases, shuddering with rhythmic clanking amidst noise layers before settling into melodic synth patterns and then on into distorted ghost like keys. Later on it's weighted down and swooshing in water; the xylophone chiming mirroring the exotic sound of a water garden.

Whether composed, improvised or programmed, Music For Counterflows is mischievous and fun, disrupting form and order. As you listen you try to search for a meaning to the unfolding unexpected generated delights fed back and informed by Helena Celle's responses. We caught one of her recent performances where she coaxed impressive discordant noise and atmospherics in a lengthy guitar improvisation manipulated by a phone application. Music For Counterflows is much more hyperactive and discombobulating with a score that veers between malfunctioning computer game effects, wayward psychedelic electronics, queasy horror scores and experimental improvisation. Consider it an album of outsider inventiveness or one that pushes a technology to its extremes, either way it is a delightful, demanding piece of work that is worth hearing from a multi-talented sound artist. Music For Counterflows is released on CD with accompanying extended interview by False Walls and digitally from Helena Celle bandcamp