4th Dividers, the appropriately titled fourth release from the Belgian duo Silk Saw, is the project's first release since Preparing Wars, their impressive Ant-Zen debut. Whereas that disc struck me as very arcane and surreal, this new material actually lets me visualize two guys experimenting in a huge studio riddled with gadgets, broken instruments, found objects of metal and plastic, microphones at every turn and a chaotic bed of wires. It has a 'real time' sound, as if it could be recreated live without any tapes or computer playback.
4th Dividers has a strong percussive focus, with simple, repetitive beats used as a foundation for most of the disc. At first it struck me that they had discarded many intricacies in favor of a more basic, rudimentary feel -- unsophisticated, persistent, abstract beats with a deeply hypnotic bent. After these beats sink in, however, with the consistency of a curdled metronome, the true colours and details become more apparent.
The beats merely become a springboard for layers of methodic, textural noises and subtle, melodic tinkling, chiming and strumming. On the surface it may seem simple, but the collection of unique elements that diffuse over the skeleton of percussion is quite engaging, in a layered, disheveled sort of way that's organized only by repetition.
I can't tell whether or not "Ratchet Mechanism" is just a clever name for the song, or a clever instrument they invented to create the song. That's part of what defines 4th Dividers. Most people will look at a sack full of junked toys, smashed appliances and broken glass as useless garbage -- Silk Saw would see it as another instrument. It's that unique perspective that helps them achieve such unique compositions.