It's not every day that an album references a mid-20th century Jesuit cultural theorist -- but Ezekiel Honig, the electronic composer and performer who helms the Microcosm Music label, is not your everyday artist. The liner notes on his second solo LP, Scattered Practices, cite Michel de Certeau, who mused on the ways in which people transform common experiences -- interacting with material objects, interpreting language and the like -- from the universal to the personal. In Honig's case, that means manipulating found sounds into barely recognizable tones, then melding them to warm Rhodes piano and barely-there percussion. Rather then being abstract and heady, though, Scattered Practices is a dreamlike, inviting and charming work.
Honig's debut album, 2004's People Places & Things, roamed the same softly ambient territory, but Scattered Practices is even more intimate, coming off as a wordless universal lullaby for the electronic age. The languid pace, microscopic melodies, simple heartbeatlike rhythms and occasional use of drone are both riveting and soothing, begging to be listened to attentively but, at the same time, gently caressing the listener into a contemplative state of Zen. And, despite the minimalist trapping, the album is surprisingly lush: "Fractures and Fissures (part 2)," for instance. consists of only two chords, overlaid with a plaintive three-note melody, a bit of crackle and a touch of background hum. But, as with the rest of Scattered Practices, that's more than enough to evoke a wealth of feeling.
(Bruce Tantum - Time Out New York)
While his debut album, People Places and Things, found New York-based producer Ezekiel Honig working from a similar palette of warm, ambient tones and gentle 4/4 pulses, Scattered Practices shows him operating at a more intimate -- even microscopic -- level. Along with Rhodes and synthesizer, Honig uses defamiliarized samples culled from everyday life, crafting gentle, childlike melodies that nod ever so slightly towards Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children. Despite his grounding in techno, Honig appears to move away from traditional loop-based compositions, notably on "Fractures and Fissures" and "Concrete and Plastic," in which his tones seep, branch, and bubble in organic fashion. Leaving loop-finding to the likes of Jan Jelinek, Honig's more esoteric search yields a comparably meticulous level of detail.
(Colin James Nagy - Flavorpill)
Microcosm Music's logo has more color and shapes than Kompakt's singular dot, but it is nearly as iconic in its elegant shorthand: crisp and linear, it features a small metropolis crammed inside of a cardboard box ready for freight shipping or living room assembly. It is the picture of media. No surprise, then, to discover that Germany's premiere minimalist repository is also one of MM's distributors. In fact, the fuzzy incandescence and stealth activity of Ezekiel Honig's Scattered Practices is a suitable score for the tired calm that follows melted eardrums and sore muscles caused by too many hours of 4/4 chug. Its 10 tracks drift to a faint cardiac throb that often recycles rippling timbres and shivering strands of glitch. Grooves are found and disintegrated. Sheared of peaks and dips, Scattered Practices hums along like the fuzzy murmur of a tireless CPU.
The tinkling patter of random clicks and trimmed, sputtering tips of rhythm pop out from the album's carbonated silence. There are loops of field recorded voices that crackle like other "Homemade Debris," as the album's nine-minute plus centerpiece is titled, such as jingling pocket jangle, creaking floors, rattling aerosol cans and swishing drawers. Splashes of aquatic distortion shimmer in the distance, notably on opener "Going Sailing Refrain 1" and its subsequent sequels, but the most salient melodic presence is found in a purring fog that continually drizzles somber chords over the twinkling currents of crunched pixels. That said, Scattered Practices does not have the feel of tampered data but the lived-in texture of a still warm, just worn t-shirt.
(Bernardo Rondeau - Dusted Magazine)
New York City-based minimal electronic producer Ezekiel Honig has previously released several albums both on his own and alongside regular collaborator Morgan Packard, and Scattered Practices, released through his Microcosm label, shows him continuing to move away from loop-based compositions in favor of warm ambience. Apparently inspired by Michel de Certeau's philosophical treatise The Practice of Everyday Life, which examines how individuals personalize and transform elements of mass culture, this fourth album sees Honig manipulating mundane sounds so that their identity is completely obscured. In this case, the focus is distinctly on gently pulsing glitch-ridden ambient soundscapes in a vein not completely dissimilar to Farben or Isan.
The gorgeous 9-minute centerpiece track "Homemade Debris" provides a perfect illustration of this approach, as muffled Fender Rhodes chords gently bleed through gossamer layers of digital filtering and slightly off-centre pinprick micro-rhythms, the occasional presence of subtle DSP processing crackling like the stray rustle of leaves at the very edges of awareness. The almost subliminal presence of micro-house beats throughout much of the material here certainly tips its hat towards Honig's more techno-centred beginnings, but Scattered Practices is certainly his most personal and openly emotive collection to date.
Ezekiel Honig's skill lies in being able to reproduce depth, beauty and minimalism in a subtle 4/4 environment. All of his more laid-back recordings so far have had a distinct trademark feel and this CD is no exception. I find myself putting it in the Electronica section even though it's mostly a rhythmic work. Muted, sub-aquatic chords and textures and gently lilting melodies combine with the most delicate of drum progamming to give you a serene sense of warmth, yet a beautiful fragility at the same time. and coupled with several beatless tracks as well you'll find this a soothing work. An exquisite and tranquil piece of music that transcends merely being Techno or Electronica. Highly recommended indeed.
Each of these 10 atmospheric but oddly rhythmic tracks by New Yorker Ezekiel Honig takes aim for the heart as much as the head. It's an emotionally bumpy ride through ashen dubscapes built with found sounds, lumbering bass lines and microscopic beats that kick, sizzle and then disappear into the murky light.