The self-described opto-musical agglomerate Sculpture was born in 2008 after a chance encounter between British musician Dan Hayhurst and New Zealand animator Reuben Sutherland. By combining practices, the pair’s first test splattered a psychedelic palette that pushed them to explore sensorial intricacies emerging from chance operations.
Raw materials for Sculpture’s music include a mix of analog and digital practices. In Hayhurst and Sutherland’s hands, tape manipulation, samples, found sounds, aleatoric and algorithmic programming and live improvisation become more complementary than you might imagine.
Sculpture draws from experimentalism to promote new potentials for pop and electronic music in an age where many of our sci-fi fantasies have become mundane occurrences. “I’m aiming to make a coherent, adventurous electronic pop record with its own voice and identity,” Hayhurst explains. “I don’t think experimental music has to be dark, difﬁcult or joyless. I try to make something playful, and maybe a little absurd.”
At the center of Membrane Pop is a phenomenological approach to sound and performance. “Symbolic Molecule” is a morphing, unsettled groove, but its addictive properties remain potent. “Polymorphic Operator” bubbles with a sort of chemical effervescence; the ghost of Jamaican dub modulating itself into an infinite haze. Sculpture’s compositional predilection emerges amidst scrambled sound worlds in “Hackle Scam Populator”, while “Distraction Display” is perhaps the closest ambient cut on the record.
What makes Sculpture sculptural (we bet the original Abstract Expressionists would have dug them) are moments where their craftsmanship feels almost animate within the constraints of musical time. In the opening seconds of “Lingual Junk”, these moments appear to freeze and unthaw an old recording. As the track narrative unfurls, you can feel Hayhurst fighting to acclimate the sound from out of cryostasis and into his reality.
If a majority of the music you hear today resembles the hard-set stone carvings of history, then Sculpture’s offerings are imagined, transitory statues with no fixed place in time. Hearing Membrane Pop in a different context, time or place may well bring about a different experience. Or perhaps a similar result.