PHORK isn’t just a weird spelling of the kitchen utensil; it actually stands for the “People’s Higher Order of Royal Kinship”, and represents the minimalist electronic project of Los Angeles-based producer Neal Reinalda. Although the name of the project has no literal connection with its phonetic namesake, PHORK’s newest album, High End—which we’re premiering here—is just as sharp as the eating utensil.
The album opens with “Wrecked”, a nine minute-long combination of field recordings and minimalist drums and synths. There is very little dynamic shift in the song, instead drawing its climactic structure through the repetition and manipulation of a male voice saying, “wrecked.” The song transitions seamlessly into the second and third tracks, “User Experience” and “Work”, through high pitched synths and recordings of what sound like public parks and gunshots. As “Work” transitions into a near-dance jam, it is hard not to make a comparison to Oneohtrix Point Never; both Reinalda and Daniel Lopatin love minimal beats as well as vocal manipulation and repetition ad nauseam. Reinalda sets PHORK apart through his use of field recordings and found sound. It suggests that the music is a both a reflection and integral part of the human experience, that somehow one is inextricably linked to the other.
“Wrecked” probably the most dance-y track on High End, whereas “OOF” explores the more abrasive end of drone and ambient music, similar in tone to Ed Ruscha’s painting of the same name. The album closes with the incredibly disjointed and disorienting “Debt”. The song refuses to stay rooted in feel and in channel; sounds bounce from left channel to right, making it impossible to feel totally right in the head.
High End is the first album of PHORK’s to be pressed to vinyl, which is being carried out by NNA Tapes.