When I first heard petra‘s “filament” I had this deep impression, this funny assumption, that this was the work of someone living alone in the woods, or in the marshy outskirts of Providence, RI, possibly in a boat. A certain combination of the synthetic and the fuzzy with the deeply human that can only come from the almost anechoic isolation pervades each track. The conspicuous absence of echo or reverb for most of the album is remarkable (save for ‘grace‘ – recorded in a museum).
“filament” creates its own aesthetic with a mix of synthesized electronics, extended vocal techniques, and field recordings. Sometimes things are rhythmically driven, but I don’t get the feeling this music is for dancing. Each track is a space unto itself, vacuum sealed and complete, making the title into a beautiful metaphor I never imagined a piece of metal in a tube could be, strangely apt and difficult to put into words in the same way the music avoids classification, wriggling under the microscope.
Combing through the website of Kristina Warren – the person behind the petra – you can find the history, the intention, the concept behind much of this work, which includes interactive art, instrument-making, video art, and questions of agency. There is also, rare for many sound artists, some writing about why and how Warren’s work is made, what is powering the thin metal glowing so ferociously, what constitutes our metaphorical bulb shell. Check it out.