12 Harmonic Chaos – Protean Phonesthesia

By Devin Morse
Spacey, ambient, and minimalist, Protean Phonesthesia is somewhat alien. More specifically, this 14-track album is the creation one may expect of a stranded and musically-inclined Martian who happens across an acoustic guitar, a scale book, and a number of Butthole Surfers, David Bowie, and The Postal Service CDs. Hyper-critical martian brethren might dismiss this creation as passé, typical, or smacking (at times) too sentimentally of Metallica’s acoustic intros. To humans lacking these annoying alien pretensions, however, this album is pretty damned good.
The tracks, mostly instrumental, generally orbit a nucleus of arpeggiated minor chords. From this elemental basis, a scattering of synth effects and noisy guitar embellishments begin to fill in a flight-plan of sorts – a journey that doesn’t have to overly explain itself to be well-understood.
But this is just a very basic blueprint. In the end, the songs are rather diverse, and in many ways, daring. Throughout the album, a passenger will also encounter free-floating bits of rock, tribal, industrial electronica and psychedelica.
The track “Canorous (Dirty Scarab Remix)” is a perfect example of the album’s experimental nature. A drifting conglomeration of dramatic electro-beats and ambient soundscapes, it somehow seems to capture the archetypal blinking lights of deep space travel.
In the end, it is difficult to confine this album to a 260 word review. Like most things that are obscure, bizarre, or alien, it deserves exploration with tools beyond the scope of what is currently available. Namely, your own human ears.

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