Áron Porteleki – ‘Smearing’

Hungarian artist Áron Porteleki presents a deeply memorable sound across Smearing, a debut solo studio production that serves as a “sonic manifestation,” of the contemporary dance piece ‘Cryptic Bodies.’ Smearing features words by Porteleki and Patrik Kelemen, who conceived and choreographed ‘Cryptic Bodies’ in 2021. The instrumentation is widely varied, from intensely expressive metal and alt-rock pursuits to gentle ambient explorations that emphasize space and vocal refrains.

The opening title track struts an initial barrenness, wherein the vocals exude a titular repetition that flows seamlessly into the subsequent “Womb Of Drum.” Ruminating percussive fragments and booming blares combine for an unsettling mystique as the voice fades. The distortion and rhythmic intensity gradually accelerate across the track’s 14+ minutes, reminiscent of the dance piece’s choreography and the dancers’ ability to react precisely within the gyrating rhythmic forces.

“Together In My Skull” brings forth a different tonal pursuit with its tick-tock percussive element and ambient synth envelopment, shifting tone in the second half. “B.L.S.” unfolds with a great ferocity, as howling guitar lines coalesce into a raucous vocal character that continues into “Dancing Dreamon,” embracing a heavy-rocking and metal-touched ardency. Even across the album’s first one-third, the atmospheric ingenuity and tonal variety within Smearing is very evident.

The vocal incorporations are stellar in their eclectic deliveries, from the screaming intensity within “Dancing Dreamon” and the prog-rock dexterity of “Pay The Pain” to the calming spoken-word implementations in Palace.” These are effectively concise efforts, whereas “Enigma” embodies the artist’s knack for satiating structural swells. Its 9+ minutes is commanding, from the initial “our body…” visceral lyrical analysis to the excitable guitar fragments in the closing moments; its thematic assemblage of the body’s power is apt within an album so heavily inspired by dance and choreography.

“Cryptic Bodies” succeeds in a more middle-ground rock territory, infusing the impassioned shouty-ness though within a more textured array of twangy guitars and illuminated synths, comparative to the more onslaught-heavy “Dancing Dreamon.” Closing this unforgettable album, “Pōwehi” conjures a nocturnal, industrial intrigue with its clanking automation and ensuing silence. Smearing compels from start to finish, as Porteleki’s bolstering of the original dance piece succeeds within the additions of riveting instrumentation, spanning from dexterous metal inspirations to atmospheric electronics.

The album — which released via Hungarian experimental label blindblindblind — also features cover art from notable Hungarian visual artist Csenge Vass, in addition to mastering via London-based engineer, producer and musician Dániel Sándor.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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