It’s a curious endeavor pursuing Norm Chambers and the assorted guises he constructs and wears, whether the prolific Panabrite, archival fake out in Jürgen Müller, or collections of spellings for his own name (e.g. N. Chambers, Norman Chambers, NRC). This intrigue lands because it rides parallel with the mysteriously clever synthesized music forms Chambers erects and releases.
His newest release (as N Chambers), Eight Informal Lines, bares a buried soft grandeur despite its unassuming name and numbered track titles. Like all of Chambers recordings, his selected, created, or in the case of Eight Informal Lines, photographed cover art, is fascinatingly absorbing. The pale-layered rocks, eroding together, form the perfect metaphor for Eight Informal Lines; grounded and dense, multidimensional, and something revealed over time.
Beginning track, “1”, offers crystalline drippings from above and somehow below while “2” vibrates and feels like a glitched out game of pinball, later morphing into strange laser zapped melodicism suited for some echoic video game of asymmetrical fires and jumps. Chambers moves further from earth on “3”, beginning the track in the hollows of a mystical metallic tree. The rhythmic boom sets pulse to the manipulated futuristic wooden tones.
Tracks “4” and “5” use similar neutrals and mood. “4” has a woefully introspective mixture of mottled pitched notes. It’s completely malleable, yet sticky like thick paste amid tricky beats and percussive drones. “5” uses subtle clicks and taps, humming a blended nostalgia ripe for a dust off the photo albums of youth.
Chambers’ sustains variation throughout Eight Informal Lines. Track “6” flubs in and out of a story wavering through voice manipulation leading nicely into a sound spill of trapped, causal water submerging struggle on “7”. “8” ends in a self-colored dream. Sounds build organically and melody arises spontaneously. The variations are temperate and flow in and around perception, never quite within the ability to reach out and snatch it away.
Eight Informal Lines is a mesmerizing study in synthesized pastel ambience and spatial mind games. Chambers continues to supply his musical sphere with worthwhile exploration. His sense of form, impeccable layering, and ability to chisel meager sounds into precious minerals, makes Chambers a name to know, if and when he uses it.