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Crawl Unit: Stop Listening

A pioneer in sound event constructions, Crawl Unit (Joe Colley) has been releasing material since 1992 on labels around the world, including Drone, Manifold, G.R.O.S.S., Ant-Zen, Chocolate Monk and Self-Abuse, among others. Crawl Unit has also appeared on over a dozen compilation recordings, composed sound for dance and performed live nationally and abroad.

In addition to recording and performing as Crawl Unit, Joe Colley also runs the renowned label Povertech Industries, releasing material by sound artists such as Michael Prime, Hafler Trio, Hands To, Crawling with Tarts, Francisco Lopez and many others.

With Stop Listening, Joe Colley, aka Crawl Unit put together a beautiful sound art record, one of the finest productions on the Ground Fault label. Five works make up the 55-minute program. Most of the material is related to ambient drones, the purest and most soothing example being “Empty Sound”. “(Untitled)” sounds like a treated hurdy-gurdy, at least something more metallic. But the highlight is the first piece of the set, “Overload Harmonics” (15 minutes). Sitting on the fence between avant-garde minimal drone music and noise, it takes the shape of a slowly evolving piece punctuated with strange pollutions — totally entrancing. The same comment cannot be applied to “Study for 3 Speakers”, a “live” recording of a 3-channel speaker installation. There are interesting ideas, some rattling sounds seem to indicate the use of objects and contact microphones in the speakers (a technique better exploited by Xavier Charles in Silent Block), but overall the piece remains more technical than absorbing. The main reason for that is the distance kept between the music and the listener. A more binaural recording may have done the trick, although the piece also lacks a bit of cohesion, its segmentation failing to bring something more to the table. Still, Stop Listening is a strong album. François Couture

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