Bryce Linde, AKA Fortune Howl, just released his newest project through Relief in Abstract this past monday. Coming in at 17 tracks in length, Spectrum Analysis is the largest release yet to be reviewed by Life Crushed. At a glance, Fortune Howl has produced some truly heterogenous sounds. I’ve been listening to Spectrum Analysis for over a week now and still am discovering new parts to some of the songs and interludes. The knot that keeps the entire album together is the energetic and futuristic vibe, both optimistic and light-hearted. This album turns out to be very fun at some points (“History” sampling The Life Aquatic soundtrack, for one) and also very out there at other points (the cosmic, drippy awareness of “Standing Over Me”). It is really hard to pinpoint what exactly Linde created here. Being such a complex album, we thought it might be helpful for readers if we first analyzed the album to understand its source properties using Kirchhoff’s Three Laws of Spectroscopy, which proceed as follows:
1. An incandescent solid, liquid, or gas under high pressure emits a continuous spectrum.
2. A hot gas under low pressure emits a “bright-line” or emission-line spectrum.
3. A continuous spectrum source viewed through a cool, low-density gas produces an absorption-line spectrum.
If we replace the ROYGBIV color spectrum with the entire spectrum of musical noises, then how does Fortune Howl stack up? Well, the music on the album itself is not continuous, it is inherently broken up into multiple tracks, and many of these tracks have sanctioned pieces that move rapidly from one to the other. At one moment you will hear a man’s voice and the next it will be gleaming synth bells over stuttering drum lines. This rules out number one. Clearly Linde was not applying the incredibly high pressure needed (which makes sense considering his skills of composition and beatmaking, his experience in the field, and the high quality of the music; for only with subpar tunes would one need to bolster with extraneous elements and force down listeners ears), and also I don’t think “incandescent” would be the first word most people would use to describe something as cool as a track like “Orbs.”
This leaves us with two options: is Spectrum Analysis more accurately described as an emission-line spectrum or an absorption-line spectrum? Or in other words, does Fortune Howl use only selective examples of noise to compose these tracks, or does he only exclude selective noises? I would venture to say that the album falls closer to an absorption-line spectrum. And here is why: Fortune Howl drew from so many facets of human imagination and emotion that I can think of less elements that aren’t on Spectrum Analysis than are included. Tracks such as “For You,” and especially the title track, “Spectrum Analysis,” are closer to collage pieces than formal compositions. They can be more fully appreciated if you accept the immense variation in flow and intent, and adapt with the music you are hearing. I find myself rotating between motionless in my thoughts, tapping my toe, shaking my head, and straight-up freakdancing–all in the course of just a single song. Then there is also the physical make-up of the music. Not just dynamic in tempo and mood, these tracks will hit you with bass ranging from the lowest frequencies all the way to playful funkadelia. Some tracks use chopped up samples, and some use pitch-shifted, slowed down, reversed, who-knows-besides-Bryce samples. A majority of the sounds that make up the melodies and upper ranges of these songs are synthetic, but also a handful of the tracks are based around plucked guitar noises or other real instrument samples, as in the final track “Paradigm Flip.” Overall, what noises did Fortune Howl exclude? Kazoos, cowbells, and the Vuvuzela. Among the millions of choices of noise, I think we’re all pretty okay without those three making an appearance.
By conducting spectrum analysis it appears that Spectrum Analysis turns out to be best described as giving off an absorption-line spectrum, which means that the very source of the music is continuous and it somehow passed through a cooler, low-density gas. This is going to get a little abstract, and I hope Bryce Linde can be on board and won’t take offense to being related to a cool, low-density gas…but in a lot of ways this makes perfect sense. Where does music come from? Sure, Linde’s imagination, but not just that, the sounds he needs to create his vision have to come from somewhere, and those sounds that he did not create from scratch himself may have been sourced through the imagination of people before him. The ultimate source would best be described as indefinite in form and incredibly powerful (think of the Sun in our solar system). Secondly, this powerful force of imagination had to be filtered and retransmitted through an intelligent and selective arbiter, much like the continuous spectrum passes through the cool gasses before reaching the observer/listener.
Spectrum Analysis is an experience with each listen, full of vivacious energy and Linde’s confident tenacity. And when generously available for name-your-price at Relief in Abstract’s bandcamp page…pick it up as soon as possible.
Check out Fortune Howl’s Soundcloud page as well.