Corvx de Timor
It’s been a banner year for Ben Arp. Previously most well-known for his industrial project C/A/T and Crunch Pod label, it was unclear what, if any future the California based artist would have after dissolving those creative outlets. Enter Corvx de Timor (previously known as C/∆/T, the recent name change is intended to differentiate his new output from his older material), a witch-house inspired entity that found a reinvigorated Arp creating at a phenomenal pace, releasing numerous EPs on Bandcamp and a limited CDr release on the noted Phantasma Disques label. His new release Scars Heal is made up of material started mid-year but handily sums up the direction and gradient of Arp’s current material; dark, groove-oriented, and rhythmic.
I think the secret to Arp’s new material is almost entirely contained in his rhythm programming, and specifically in how his drums roll and snap in contrast to the floaty, slow moving textures that carry the melody. Although hip-hop (and more specifically its chopped and screwed and trap variations) is certainly one of the most prominent strands in the make-up of witch house, very few of the artists currently working in the milieu grasp how to make the snares and cymbals feel alive the way well-programmed rap does. Arp does, and much of the music on Scars Heal is built with the rhythm track as focal point, grounding and shaping songs that are otherwise composed of more hazy and indistinct textures. Check “Golden Handcuffs”, which starts as an exercise in reverb and stereo effects, an indistinct and enveloping form that shapeshifts instantly when the sharp hiss of a digital cymbal cuts through the cloud. It’s an excellent trick, and one that Corvx uses in various capacities, even in reverse as on “Alone in a Crowd” where the kick drums disappear and the whole song derezzes for a moment before snapping back into focus with its reintroduction.
The other thing that should be highlighted is how clean and distinct sounding all of Corvx’s material is. When you’re working with a form that prizes smokey, opaque sounds there’s always the danger of everything melting into a homogenous soup. Arp keeps his mix pleasantly solid, each element infused with substance and gravity. In practice what that means is that a song like “Dolo” takes on IDM-like characteristics, with synths rebounding off one another and adding to the rhythmic pulse of the track instead of melting together. On “5h‡†h4vvk” a bass sound with lots of attack can co-exist with warped and delayed vocal samples and gradually more distorted drum sounds, scaling up until it disappears entirely from view.
Scars Heal is a nice way for Corvx de Timor to cap off the year. While the compilation Blue Eyes Turn Black might make more sense as an introduction, this EP embodies briefly all the most distinct and interesting shapes the project is playing with. It’s got a pleasant sense of listenability, and taken in the context of the young project’s catalogue it serves as a summation, a victory lap, and a digestif. 2012 was a prolific and inspired year for Arp; it’ll be interesting to see what news ways his muse twists and mutates in 2013.