If this is your first experience of Formaldehydra, welcome to the party. You’re in for an abrasive but rewarding time. Check out his other releases first maybe, possibly the glorious II or the Magnu EP and then come back. If you are already initiated, or is that indoctrinated, wow, are you in for a treat. His latest release, Extirpate, is released through Popnihill which services Orlando’s burgeoning underground scene and beyond.
Extirpate opens with the sound of fine tuning radio static. As the blips and static get weirder, and harsher, a deep bass and a haunting synth melody appear from the void. This gives us something tangible to grab hold of, even if it is for fleeting moments, but this is when you realise that actually finding a station isn’t the main objective here, instead Formaldehydra is enjoying listening to multiple stations all transmitting, and being picked up at once. As ‘Side One’ progresses it appears that abstract sounds are layered, manipulated and then messed up some more to create a jarring sense of discombobulation. This carries on for the remainder of the side. ‘Side Two’ appears to be calmer, and more ambient, but as it progresses Formaldehydra is back to his old tricks of layering sounds that at first feel contrasting, but gently proliferate and swell to create something that feels lurid, otherworldly but strangely comforting.
Extirpate is an album to experience rather than listen to. On a first play everything just feels like Formaldehydra turned on all of his equipment, pressed play at random intervals and went off to make a tea, forgot what he was doing then returned to turn it all off. But this is wrong. On repeat listens you start to pick out motifs, and movements, that originally sound harsh and bleak, but are actually delicate and subtle. The final third of ‘Side Two’ is a prime example of this.
This is an album the deserves repeat listens as each time you pick out a new part and the noise and confusion melts away leaving you something far more beguiling and transfixing.