Whilst listeners of a cynical disposition may dismiss ‘the avant garde’ as merely the triumph of rampant self-expression over form, function and, to a lesser extent aesthetics, others with ears more receptive to musics outside of the accepted norm may find solace, kindred thought even, in the works of artists such as Stagnant Waters.

For it is certainly an open mind that is required if one is to take communion with the artist over the full ninety-minute plus duration of their latest collection of pieces, Rifts. A symphony of confusion in fourteen movements, this is the work of artists for whom expression is everything, even if that expression sometimes comes at the cost of all else.

On a perhaps less technical, more emotional, level, – the reviewer cannot offer much insight into the compositional values at work here, such is the continuous cacophonic assault the artist uses – pieces such as Gonad Waltz offer an interesting juxtaposition wherein the ‘avant garde’ element of the song structures (clattering percussion, insistent rhythms and a constant shifting in focus which leaves the listener confused and, perhaps, apprehensive as to what may come next) is actually reinforced by more prosaic songwriting tropes that might be linked, by turn, to the experimental post punk of the early eighties mixed with an intensity of purpose most often found in modern grindcore. Nothing, then, is found to be truly ‘new’, despite any assertions to the contrary.

The listener who comes fully calibrated to the expectation and ambition of the artist will, of course, still find this recording to be an invigorating exercise in aural gratification, even if it is one that cannot be shared across the wider community of participants. For few will be able to give themselves to Rifts in a manner that allows the recording to give of it’s secrets fully – but perhaps that is point, both of Rifts as a recorded work and of ‘the avant garde’ in general.

Rifts is out now.