Robert Hampson – RÉPERCUSSIONS

Editions Mego That Robert Hampson is more prolific these days is great news. A new record (this one), with another pair due in the autumn, also on Peter Rehberg’s label, and the “reactivation” of Main, whose termination several years ago was principally due to an overwhelming sense of limitation felt by the project’s instigator, fed up with reading guitars mentioned in any review even when there was no trace of them in the music. At any rate, the old axe is being rescued from the closet. Répercussions comes in a CD/DVD edition (the latter containing the 5.1 surround version), whose … Continue reading Robert Hampson – RÉPERCUSSIONS

Yannick Dauby – TAÎ-PAK THIAN SAN PIÀN

Kalerne Editions A resident of Taipei for several years, Yannick Dauby has gathered in this disc the fruits of three commissions aimed at emphasizing the sonic constituents of his current home. “Nous, Le Défunts” is defined by recurring echoes of folk-scented rituality, hypothetically salvaging intimate needs jeopardized by a problematic cohabitation in an overcrowded conurbation. Ardent ritual music gets mixed with all sorts of alarms and car horns, with cicadas and birds offering rural respite every once in a while. The beginning of “Taipei 2030” is informed by urban noise and (especially) by an underlying hum produced by “huge cooling … Continue reading Yannick Dauby – TAÎ-PAK THIAN SAN PIÀN

Glacial – ON JONES BEACH

Three Lobed Recordings Glacial’s sonorities are mainly shaped by Lee Ranaldo’s scorching guitar, David Watson’s beloved bagpipes and Tony Buck’s ritual potions on the drums. Although the band – with minor variations in the lineup – has existed for over 13 years now, On Jones Beach represents their first official recording, a 750-copy (or so) limited vinyl edition enriched by Ursula Scherrer’s cover photography and complemented by a download coupon for the whole enchilada – the 48-minute title track (recorded in 2005) and three shorter takes from live sessions at 2003’s MIMI Festival and at New York’s Tonic in 2006. … Continue reading Glacial – ON JONES BEACH

LHZ + H – SCOPE

Monotype Those initials stand for (Thomas) Lehn, (Carl Ludwig) Hübsch, (Philip) Zoubek and (Franz) Hautzinger, who joined the already existing trio in this recording from 2008. The instruments they play are, respectively, analogue synthesizer, tuba, piano and quarter-tone trumpet with delay. The opening “Zoom” is characterized by hovering images and sparse definition, shadows prevailing upon light throughout. The title track opens with a sudden increase in contrast and dynamic interaction, with Zoubek acting as a semi-tuned percussionist of sorts while Hübsch and Hautzinger launch abstract imprecations and Lehn furnishes the room with his classic mix of biotic pulses and persistently … Continue reading LHZ + H – SCOPE

If, Bwana / Dan Warburton – I AM SITTING IN PHILL NIBLOCK’S KITCHEN

Monotype The title is an evident reference to Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room and also to Dan Warburton’s rather obscure Absurd release I Am Not Sitting In A Room With Reynols. This is the studio version of a piece conceived in 2008 for a concert in Ghent; Phill Niblock has a house there, and Al Margolis (aka If, Bwana) mixed the record in his kitchen. The main constituent is a “dense sludge” of all the Bwana records owned by Warburton, who subjected them to a thorough stretching to make them last exactly 45 minutes. Margolis in turn … Continue reading If, Bwana / Dan Warburton – I AM SITTING IN PHILL NIBLOCK’S KITCHEN

eRikm / Michel Doneda – RAZINE

Monotype These amusingly irascible improvisations – recorded by eRikm (turntable, electronics, live sampling) and Michel Doneda (soprano and sopranino sax, radio) at 2009’s Journées Electriques in Albi – risk being taken as something too ironic and quirky to be seriously considered as “important”. But this stuff is not superficial at all. Each burst fully belongs to the exact moment in which it’s born, the musicians gifted with an amazing inner clock that allows them to somehow figure out in advance what the best next move is. Listen carefully and, apart from raucous reed pitches, crackling vinyl, and hysterical drum’n’bass, moments … Continue reading eRikm / Michel Doneda – RAZINE

Toshimaru Nakamura / John Butcher – DUSTED MACHINERY

Monotype About seven years ago Nakamura and Butcher released Cavern With Nightlife (Weight Of Wax), demonstrating how wide reverberating spaces were able to impact their combined actions. In contrast, Dusted Machinery explores an antithetic and occasionally claustrophobic perspective. The diminished spacing of the individual emissions produces tones and noises whose hardly governable temperament is apparent, still placing large chunks of the work in the realm of non-figurative instrumental physics. The no-input mixing board is challenged by a soprano (twice) and a tenor sax in the first three tracks; Butcher employs saxophone feedback in the concluding “Nobasu”, possibly the record’s peak … Continue reading Toshimaru Nakamura / John Butcher – DUSTED MACHINERY

Axel Dörner / Werner Dafeldecker / Sven-Åke Johansson – DER KREIS DES GEGENSTANDES

Monotype The unsettlingly severe cover photograph, with its combination of pollution and forlornness, is perfect to illustrate the stern type of interaction generated by this trio. Axel Dörner has remained one of the few trumpeters around warranting a degree of audibility – and recognisability – during theoretically “reductionist” actions, his proper (if uneven) pitches relieving the hissing pressure to which many of his exhaling fellows have definitively given the keys of their creative catacomb. Listening to those trembling held tones and petulant cries is cause for hope: not everything has been inundated by warm dribbles – there’s still room for … Continue reading Axel Dörner / Werner Dafeldecker / Sven-Åke Johansson – DER KREIS DES GEGENSTANDES

Lasse-Marc Riek – SAISON CONCRÈTE

Semperflorens That Lasse-Marc Riek is one of the founders of Gruenrekorder is evident from the similarities between some of the atmospheres informing Saison Concrète and the vague, half-tangible depictions of diverse environments in Merzouga’s Mekong Morning Glory (see above). This 44-minute work emerges from a protracted silence, after which all the possible variations on what we already know on the subject are presented one after another: buzzing insects, far-flung droning, tinkling objects, whimpering dogs, rustling steps, rain, children, birds, reiterative aspects of unknown mechanical processes. But what sets this CD apart from the rest of the worthless crowd is the … Continue reading Lasse-Marc Riek – SAISON CONCRÈTE

Merzouga – MEKONG MORNING GLORY

Gruenrekorder Those who think “Morning Glory” is the third course of “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” on Atom Heart Mother might like to know that’s it’s also a tropical vegetable (aka water spinach) native to South East Asia, which influenced Eva Pöpplein and Janko Hanushevsky (aka Merzouga) as they sailed down the Mekong river across Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in 2008. As for the musical outcome, the voyage represents an interesting stab at combining field recordings and processed instruments, with a prepared bass guitar the lone extra-environmental source. The gradual increase in sonic concentration maps the transition from unspoiled nature to downtown … Continue reading Merzouga – MEKONG MORNING GLORY

Lucia Mense – ELECTRONIC COUNTERPOINT

Satelita Lucia Mense specialises in an instrument – the recorder – which immediately brings back memories of unruly classrooms. Here in the land of bel canto, educational programmes by successive governments (“left” or “right”, it doesn’t matter – is there a difference?) have always considered music as good as junk, and most “students” behave accordingly, using cheap plastic recorders to create teacher-exasperating cooperative chaos. But Mense is German, and has subjected her instrument of choice (a wooden one) to a steady diet of diverse genres, with particular predilection for contemporary composers – my first introduction to her work was Phill … Continue reading Lucia Mense – ELECTRONIC COUNTERPOINT

Dick Wood – NOT FAR FROM HERE

pfMENTUM Reedist Dick Wood is something of a legend in the Californian new jazz scene, described as an “inimitable musician / raconteur / provocateur and general disseminator of freewheeling artistry, love and cuisine” by Nels Cline. In this long-awaited release he fronts a quintet whose members can extract improvising material from a pinhead and make you feel they’re having a lot of fun doing it. The leader’s alto flirts and tussles with Dan Clucas’s cornet and flute impressively throughout, their heterogeneous conjunctions and vixenish allusions steeped in knowledge of the past. But putting the hype of the press release aside … Continue reading Dick Wood – NOT FAR FROM HERE

Irène Schweizer – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Intakt When Irène Schweizer sits alone at the keyboard in Zurich’s Tonhalle in April 2011, two months before her 70th birthday, the magic in the air materializes fast. Broad-shouldered fairy tales are narrated with the impassioned grace of someone intimately acquainted with the instrument, acting as the causal factor of sound’s chemical reaction with the surrounding air molecules. Tackling a programme including affectionate homages (of which Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino” and Thelonious Monk’s “Four In One” are both outstanding), the pianist questions the very meaning of the term “interpretation”, turning known quantities into utterly individual expression, a combination of concrete … Continue reading Irène Schweizer – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Nils Petter Molvær – BABOON MOON

Thirsty Ear The title of Baboon Moon‘s opening track, “Mercury Heart”, is an immediate (involuntary?) nod to David Torn’s Cloud About Mercury, a genuine milestone that came out back in 1987. It seems trumpeter Molvær and comrades Stian Westerhus (guitar) and Erland Dahlen (drums) have got themselves stuck in the same year – there’s a been-there-done-that sigh of resignation to these nine tracks, plagued by over-processed guitars, clichéd loops and Mark Isham-meets-Jon Hassell fog. Not to mention the headache of those whopping drum ‘n’ bass patterns. With its Marc Anderson-like steel drums (Steve Tibbetts’ percussionist, in case you forgot) and … Continue reading Nils Petter Molvær – BABOON MOON

Daunik Lazro – SOME OTHER ZONGS

Ayler Here is the work of a man who relishes isolation, throwing out impulses with arresting fervour, each discharge of blood-and-guts cruciality a direct and dramatic connection with the heart. When an artist’s life is genuinely devoted to an instrument, there’s no danger of compromise, and in these six live baritone sax tracks, recorded between 2010 and 2011 in Le Mans (at the Europa Jazz Festival) and Paris (at the church of Saint-Merry), every pitch, every harmonic, every bodily process projects an almost painful tendency to the affirmation of truth. Ranging from the illustration of inner conflict – occasionally adding … Continue reading Daunik Lazro – SOME OTHER ZONGS

Bonnie Barnett Group – IN BETWEEN DREAMS

pfMENTUM Bonnie Barnett’s cheerful round face, accompanied by her permutations of ironically twisted jazz sensuality, deadpan soliloquies and made-up texts, is a welcome presence in the room. In Between Dreams is a classy set by the Los Angeles vocalist, who exercises her renowned skill in the company of reedman Dick Wood, bassist Hal Onserud and percussionist Garth Powell. They motivate her throughout a network of cultivated intuitions, their communication free from rhetorical staleness and permeated by the legitimate intention of transmitting artistry in fine expression. It’s not just fake poems and chomped syllables, though. “Matisse” and “Nothingness” are settings of, … Continue reading Bonnie Barnett Group – IN BETWEEN DREAMS

Janek Schaefer – PHOENIX & PHAEDRA HOLDING PATTERNS

Spekk Janek Schaefer’s albums constitute a remedy against the cynicism spreading among the arbiters of avant garde taste who consider the act of listening within their own selves a deadly sin. Phoenix & Phaedra Holding Patterns, dedicated to the composer’s youngest offspring, was conceived as a piece to be played at the back of an auditorium, the stage left empty in order for the audience to realize that the sound, not the performer, is what really counts. A surround speaker system reproduces a “classic” superimposition of static harmonic layers generated through transistor radios alimented by a FM transmitter, a multitude … Continue reading Janek Schaefer – PHOENIX & PHAEDRA HOLDING PATTERNS

Francisco López + Novi_Sad – TITANS

Gradual Hate Manipulating the same source materials – environmental recordings made in Greece’s Ancient Olympia region – López and Novi_Sad (real name Thanasis Kaproulias) have created entirely different soundscapes, both compositionally brilliant and psychologically engrossing (high-quality headphones are recommended). In “Untitled #249” the Spaniard lets a sublime faraway chorale evolve from initial subsonic activity, subsequently shifting the frequency balance through the use of spiky highs and metamorphic radiations, a veritable flea market in hell. The texture becomes progressively thinner until we’re left with barely perceptible signals at the borders of tinnitus preceding a classic finish in total silence. But what … Continue reading Francisco López + Novi_Sad – TITANS

Theresa Wong – THE UNLEARNING

Tzadik It is difficult not to remain enchanted by the 21 miniatures presented by Theresa Wong in her first solo outing. A Bay Area resident active in the world of improvisation for a number of years, having collaborated with the likes of Fred Frith, Ellen Fullman (see above), Joëlle Léandre and Rova, Wong is a technically gifted cellist who also sings and composes. The Unlearning finds her in company of Carla Kihlstedt on violin and voice in a program influenced by Francisco Goya’s Disasters Of War etchings. The material consists of fragments, sketches and haikus that, despite their brevity – … Continue reading Theresa Wong – THE UNLEARNING

Ellen Fullman – THROUGH GLASS PANES

Important Ellen Fullman’s long string instrument has long been an important presence for audiences in need of uncharacteristic dronage, privileging the morphing aspects of resonant phenomena, originating massive mutations of frequencies that give us the impression we’re but a tiny element in the circuits of an enormous flanger pedal, or just tickling the membranes with delicately vibrant mixes. The four tracks on this fine CD are attempts at creating music that is both experimental – in the strict sense of the word – and spiritual. The title track uses a couple of “box bows” (wooden devices designed to play groups … Continue reading Ellen Fullman – THROUGH GLASS PANES

Xela – THE SUBLIME

Dekorder Xela is the project of Walsall-born Massachusetts-based John Twells, The Sublime being the final instalment of a trilogy also comprising The Illuminated and The Divine on this same imprint.According to Wikipedia, Twells loves horror movie soundtracks (especially Italian), but things are kept relatively restrained throughout this basically unmemorable album. “Lust And Paradise” unfolds nicely via strata of fixed / barely gliding drones but ends with horrible female-vocal presets worthy of any of the thousands of bedroom dilettantes who dabble in this department. “Eve’s Riposte” mixes incessant background hiss with muffled loops and a combination of inaudible themes and indecipherable … Continue reading Xela – THE SUBLIME

Sculpture – TOAD BLINKER

Dekorder “Toad Blinker is a zoetropic picture disc designed to be filmed at 25fps with a high shutter speed”. Even after having watched the two mini-movies on the label’s website I’m left none the wiser about what that means, but sound is the only thing that counts – and there are bazillions of acoustic mutations to be found here, in the form of layered loops (naturellement) embracing convulsive techno pulses, angelic harp samples, dilapidated synthesis, aged vinyl samples and repellent melodies that for some strange reason work wonderfully together. “Data Corporation” sounds like Muslimgauze thrown inside a triturating washing machine, … Continue reading Sculpture – TOAD BLINKER

Machinefabriek & Gareth Davis – GHOST LANES

Dekorder This collaboration between Rutger Zuydervelt and Gareth Davis dates back to 2009, yet the reciprocal confidence that exudes from Ghost Lanes seems to allude to a longer acquaintance. The title track, which takes up the LP’s first side, exploits the communion of extensive darkish echoes and the finer details of instrumental probing. Davis’s contrabass clarinet inhabits his partner’s inauspiciously humming clouds, contemporary reed tricks and hints at unborn melodic fragments vainly attempting to soften the sourer emissions coming from Machinefabriek’s table. The No Pussyfooting -meets-Aidan Baker mood of “Mackerel Sky” works a tad better, with the guitar sounds incandescent … Continue reading Machinefabriek & Gareth Davis – GHOST LANES

Astral Social Club – GENERATOR BREAKER

Dekorder As the proud (and irremediably broke) feeder of an uncontrollable feline tribe, the unfortunately short “Purr” – mostly made from meowing cats – should alone suffice to welcome Generator Breaker as something useful. Spicing his pieces with intemperate extraneous factors and lots of analogue sources, Neil Campbell needs no devastating action to catch our attention: the machinations can become addictive (“Balloom” and the Fenneszian “Breaker” being perhaps the darling tracks) while keeping the dissidence factor at an acceptable level. On the other hand, “Wishaw” mixes prepotency and minimalism in perfect doses, leaving you feeling like you’ve just gone 12 … Continue reading Astral Social Club – GENERATOR BREAKER

Nicola Ratti – 220 TONES

Die Schachtel A somewhat “Basinski-in-flip-flops” foreword, “Air Resistance”, launches this 36-minute CD by Nicola Ratti, in which analogue synthetizers [sic], strings and organs make their way meekly among skipping LPs, low-budget electronic minimalism and vaguely in-sync Muslimgauze-ish pulses (“Untitled #2″ is pretty scandalous in that respect). Everything is genially evanescent and woefully lacking in artistic depth. The Italians seem to have found a goldmine of sickening benevolence for this sort of parent-approved experimentalism populated by well-connected dabblers and incompetent cosmic howlers. It’s a typical Die Schachtel problem, this continuous swinging of the pendulum from meaningful projects (the Gruppo box set, … Continue reading Nicola Ratti – 220 TONES

Dimitri Voudouris – AΘ=Φ / UVIVI / 1:Θφ4 / ONTA

Pogus A South African of Hellenic descent, multi-talented Dimitri Voudouris creates stimulating computer music soundscapes, paying special attention to the dismemberment of the human voice within frameworks exploring “psycho-acoustic behavioral patterns” in constantly mutating environments. This follow-up to the outstanding NPFAI.1 / PALMOS / NPFAI.3 / PRAXIS on the same imprint pursues the same distinctive sonic research, which the composer promotes by recurring to incredibly complex formulas (partially “explicated” by equally intricate graphic scores and meticulous liners). It requires some application on the part of the listener, due to the lengthy duration of the disc at over 73 minutes, but … Continue reading Dimitri Voudouris – AΘ=Φ / UVIVI / 1:Θφ4 / ONTA

Eliane Radigue – TRANSAMOREM/TRANSMORTEM

Important We owe many thanks to Manu Holterbach, self-nominated manager of the tape-to-digital transfer of Eliane Radigue’s archives. As he points out, only with the advent of the AVE (After Vinyl Era) have we been allowed to enjoy long-lasting works that had remained buried for over twenty years, Transamorem/Transmortem among them. Conceived on an ARP 2500 analogue synthesizer in 1973, the monophonic tape was meant to be reproduced via four speakers placed at the corners of an empty (carpeted) room in an installation comprising the projection of faint white lights. Premièred in 1974 at The Kitchen under the artistic direction … Continue reading Eliane Radigue – TRANSAMOREM/TRANSMORTEM

Meredith Monk – SONGS OF ASCENSION

ECM New Series Inspired by the “Songs Of Ascents” which, according to Kyle Gann’s liners, were “fifteen of the Psalms that are said to have been sung by people ascending during pilgrimages”, Songs Of Ascension was conceived as a site-specific work after Meredith Monk was invited to perform in a tower created by visual artist Ann Hamilton in Sonoma County, California. The building is characterized by two staircases (which spiral upward in double helix fashion and come together at the top) and the music was devised exclusively for instruments that could be easily carried up them – no mallets, no … Continue reading Meredith Monk – SONGS OF ASCENSION

Harley Gaber – IN MEMORIAM 2010

Innova “Perhaps the belief that consciousness permeates everything and transcends – by that I mean encompasses – the cyclic nature of living and dying, would allow us to accept the inevitable beginnings and endings of things as part of a meaningful continuity, not just a tragic aberration”. These words by Harley Gaber, dated September 2010, resonate deeply following his recent suicide. Commissioned by the Dan J. Epstein Family Foundation, In Memoriam 2010 springs from the reworking of an earlier piece that “already had existed in two incarnations”: “Portrait And Dream”, subsequently transformed into “Portrait And Dream: In Memoriam Kenneth Gaburo”. … Continue reading Harley Gaber – IN MEMORIAM 2010

Joëlle Léandre / Phillip Greenlief – THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT

Relative Pitch The debut outing from this new American label promises great things to come. Modifying a famous Buñuel movie title to identify the duo’s implied “main theme” (human greed and its relative consequences), blue-collar wind virtuoso Greenlief offers intriguing perspectives and incisive methods to complement the larger-than-life personality of bassist Léandre. There are no frills here, and what’s apparent even on a first listen is the non-oratorical character of the music as it unfolds in a series of “variations”, an all-embracing report from two artists who share several biting points of view. Greenlief zigzags around Léandre’s timbral stoutness like … Continue reading Joëlle Léandre / Phillip Greenlief – THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT

Elodie – ECHOS PASTORAUX

La Scie Dorée Debut of a new duo consisting of Timo Van Luijk and Andrew Chalk. As you might expect with this imprint, it’s a vinyl edition with typically attractive retro cover art. Divided into rather short fragments, the music perfectly corresponds to the album title. It’s a little jewel where one can almost smell the flowers and the grass surrounding the players (Van Luijk and Chalk with Daisuke Suzuki on percussion on one track) occasionally captured in open-air settings with twittering blackbirds and flowing water underlining the serene pensiveness of guitars, zithers (?), unspecified wind instruments and electronic keyboards. … Continue reading Elodie – ECHOS PASTORAUX

Af Ursin – AIKA

La Scie Dorée Subtitled “Un Réveil Sidérant Dans Le Passé Décomposé”, this new LP by Af Ursin – the solo project of Timo Van Luijk, of Noise-Maker’s Fifes and In Camera fame – comes in a sepia-tinged non-figurative cover reminiscent of Mirror and Andrew Chalk’s artworks. The first side starts with simple (but not simplistic) wind / brass counterpoint, soon replaced by the mysterious “Marche Arrière”, with its echoes of early Univers Zero (that bassoon demarcating the general gloom..). The closure is an atonally wavering abstraction of pre-taped womanly pitches, initially disturbed then besieged by weird electronic noises, somewhere between … Continue reading Af Ursin – AIKA

Francisco Meirino / Brent Gutzeit – FIVE YEARS OF WORK FOR A STRANGE RESULT

Trust Lost The self-explanatory title indicates the lengthy data-swapping process at the basis of this work, showcasing the combined skills of two sound artists whose past achievements (notably Meirino’s excellent works as Phroq and Gutzeit’s fantastic Drugmoney) guarantee good taste. Painstakingly constructed, fragmented and reassembled, the innumerable frequencies generated by this perfect pair spread across the whole spectrum of audibility, and beyond (careful with your pets). Earthquake-like vibrations are perceived as subliminal messages of wondrous threat, as hordes of squirrels are spindried at impossible speed by a nuclear washing machine and sandblasted by ferocious discharges of filthy electricity. Shifting panning, … Continue reading Francisco Meirino / Brent Gutzeit – FIVE YEARS OF WORK FOR A STRANGE RESULT

Eric Cordier / Seijiro Murayama – NUIT

Herbal Listing the sound sources, which include buffalo frogs, forest birds and a temple ceremony besides other glimpses of reality, gives you the wrong impression regarding Nuit. This is acousmatic music with added elements of improvisation. Murayama’s disconcerting vocal expressions are complemented by his evenhanded percussiveness (except in the concluding movement, which sounds like a fragmentation of Nick Mason’s interminable rolls in “A Saucerful Of Secrets”), while Cordier’s processing attempts to dislocate our expectations, and at times succeeds. The album’s significance resides in its refusal to adopt the “let-the-nightingale-do-the-work” strategy; acoustic designs are deprived of emblematic façades, and there’s poetry … Continue reading Eric Cordier / Seijiro Murayama – NUIT

William Basinski – A RED SCORE IN TILE

Streamline Digital reissue of a 1979 work already cut on a Die Stadt vinyl a while back, A Red Score In Tile affirms William Basinski’s place among contemporary minimalists. The unfortunate concurrent circumstances affecting his celebrated Disintegration Loops – released some 22 years after this piece’s creation, in case you didn’t do the maths – were as unique as the music itself, and in a way it’s everybody’s fault (including mine) if grief and sadness are invariably mentioned when commenting on the Texan’s subsequent opuses. A sound artist’s greatness is born from chance and intuition, but a technical grounding must … Continue reading William Basinski – A RED SCORE IN TILE

Mohammad – SPIRITI

Antifrost This 280-copy limited edition triple-LP box, the sequel to last year’s intriguing Roto Vildblomma, will, I suspect, appear in many reviewers’ best-of lists. Mohammad – Nikos Veliotis, Coti K and Ilios – seem to have been born to produce ominous sonorities together, and this set definitely places them in favorable position to dominate Subsonic Valley while keeping a residence in Dark Melody County. There may be three discs, each with its own title (respectively, “Malad Van”, “Yap Divòce Tectónica” and “Dis Koraci”), but the core of this music is one and only one: the purveying of gaping tremor, either … Continue reading Mohammad – SPIRITI

Daniel Menche / Anla Courtis – YAGUÀ OVY

MIE No wording surplus necessary to urge the immediate grabbing of one of the 300 copies of this LP, apparently named after an Argentinean Werewolf myth. After a start which finds Menche  stomping through snow, “El Relincho” grows in potency and drama through an increasingly chiming union of nail-breaking manual activity and violent metallic clangor (sourced from pizza cans, of all things). Picture a group of speleologists surprised by a horde of unhinged robots, fiercely thrashing their poor victims while self-destructing at the same time. Only small fragments of bone, assorted screws and disconnected electric cables remain when it’s all … Continue reading Daniel Menche / Anla Courtis – YAGUÀ OVY

Christoph Heemann – THE RINGS OF SATURN

Robot Those who missed the extremely limited CDR edition of this work, which I reviewed here, can now quench their thirst with a remastered version on transparent vinyl (though I keep stressing my preference for digital when it comes to “deep listening”: no clicks, pops and distortion, and no spell-breaking side flipping). Unlike the Walter Sebald novel it takes its title from, whose plot unfurls in East Anglia, most of the location echoes captured by Christoph Heemann for The Rings Of Saturn seem to come from some northern province of Italy, as certain dialects and soundscapes, though knowledgeably veiled by the processing, are … Continue reading Christoph Heemann – THE RINGS OF SATURN

Bernhard Gál – SAME DIFFERENCE

Gromoga Famously, Bernhard Gál’s past work has been characterized by Asian implications, a connection made stronger in Same Difference. This extensive cycle of compositions makes use of the sonorities of traditional Chinese instruments, their timbres – pure or processed – exploited within prearranged settings, occasionally including metropolitan noises and voices (the arcane reverberations of “UTOO” being a compelling representation of the latter approach). Gál’s method displays the lyricism of a defoliated minimalism while maintaining impressions of inscrutability and, not infrequently, irony. “Of Sound And Time” features three “fake listeners” hidden in the audience, interfering with Taiwan’s Ensemble Chai Found Music … Continue reading Bernhard Gál – SAME DIFFERENCE

Thanos Chrysakis – SUBTERRANEAN SKY

Aural Terrains Once upon a time people used to play Steely Dan albums to test a new set of home speakers [I still do – DW]. Now you can replace Aja with Subterranean Sky, a record conceived from “field recordings, synthesized and acoustic instrumental sounds”. Perhaps Thanos Chrysakis is afraid of calling the fruit of his research “computer music” to avoid being filed away alongside the purveyors of cheap fizzle-and-glitch – if so, given the quantity of engrossing noises coming from my (old) stereo, his reluctance appears wholly justified. The right adjective is metaphysical; there’s no evident reference to styles … Continue reading Thanos Chrysakis – SUBTERRANEAN SKY

Mem1 – TETRA

Estuary Ltd. Laura and Mark Cetilia (on cello, analog modular and electronics) have been quietly producing a body of work in which consistency of purpose and spiritual strength seem to proceed in tandem. Recorded in a short time span during spring last year, Tetra represents their effort to create pieces “evocative of an extreme environment”, and this limited edition (300 copies in transparent vinyl) will definitely satisfy geared-up audiences through its morphological fusion of an acoustic (if heavily processed) instrument and its relative synthetic cumulus into a lone voice. It’s difficult to separate the components in this music whose droning … Continue reading Mem1 – TETRA

Marsfield – THREE SUNSETS OVER MARSFIELD

Faraway Press Marsfield is one of the several projects involving Hull’s Andrew Chalk, who hopefully needs no introduction by now. On this LP, his creative partner is the unsung Brendan Walls, an Australian sound artist who came to relative prominence thanks to Cassia Fistula, and one of the Englishman’s regular collaborators. The music on Three Sunsets Over Marsfield is dated 2002, but heaven knows why nine years have elapsed before its release, since it belongs among the most stunning works that both men have ever produced. I’ll say this at the risk of Chalk’s discontent: this music is deeply reminiscent … Continue reading Marsfield – THREE SUNSETS OVER MARSFIELD

Ferran Fages – LULLABY FOR LALI

Etude On a glacial January afternoon, the sky stuck in a will-it-snow? kind of grey, I decide to play Lullaby For Lali expecting stridency, if not blasphemy. Can’t explain why, especially considering the relative tranquillity of Ferran Fages’ recent solo releases and the tenderness of the sepia-tinged cover photo, and I feel a right fool when a slow sequence of swelling glissandi and sparse acoustic plucks begins, leaving me staring at the void. Wonderful, indeed. But it changes after a while, and the real lullaby starts: strummed guitars, a basic melody played on a metallophone, the simplicity of a children’s … Continue reading Ferran Fages – LULLABY FOR LALI

Eleh – RADIANT INTERVALS

Important Following my upbeat review of Location Momentum (Touch) here last May, I’m now bemused by the clamorous contrast between the diffident “let-the-music-speak” attitude hitherto shown by Eleh (whose identity still remains a mystery to most people) and his/her incongruously egotistical comments (low-budget piousness?) released in the Rewind 2010 section of the January Wire. The former has obviously worked wonders in rendering him/her a cult figure of latterday electronica, but let’s hope that the verbal threnodies for dead birds, and moans about the hardships of daily life won’t continue. There’s no question that the music works pretty well, but there … Continue reading Eleh – RADIANT INTERVALS

Alfredo Costa Monteiro – CINQ BRUISSEMENTS

No Fun The Spartan white sleeve with its fascinating numerical artwork is the perfect container for an essential album. Both creations are courtesy of Alfredo Costa Monteiro, a bright mind signified by ever-interesting gasps and sputters whose talent goes beyond painting and playing (he also creates conundrums and puns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he could cook better than many renowned chefs). Here the Portugueseguerrilleroof intelligent noise is armed for the occasion with a mere accordion, and he does well to underline that “all the sounds are acoustic” on the album cover. Most of us know what the guy … Continue reading Alfredo Costa Monteiro – CINQ BRUISSEMENTS

Zbigniew Karkowski / Kelly Churko – INFALLIBILISM

Herbal No need to tell you who Karkowski is – anyone who’s spent time listening to computerized harshness will be familiar with his no-nonsense, chip-on-a-shoulder attitude and a handful of good to almost great recordings – but I had to google to find out that Churko is a (younger) Canadian based in Japan who’s worked with artists as diverse as Ilios, Tim Olive, Harris Eisenstadt and Paal Nilssen Love. Infallibilism, recorded live in Japan from May 2008 through February 2009, is exactly what you would expect: 32-plus minutes of white (grey, black and pink..) noise and crazed fragments of granular … Continue reading Zbigniew Karkowski / Kelly Churko – INFALLIBILISM

Philip Jeck – AN ARK FOR THE LISTENER

Touch “Perhaps this will be the one that does it”, I thought after the opening moments of An Ark For The Listener, trying to fight back the eternal sense of doubt felt when tackling Philip Jeck’s music. Even recognizing the value of some of his earlier projects, many characterized by deeply evocative landscapes interspersed with episodes of utter humdrum, my elevation of Jeck to the top rank of turntable-elicited pathos is postponed pending further evidence. Realized with a typical array of turntables, keyboards and effects (plus bass guitar), Ark is “a meditation on verse 33 of The Wreck Of The … Continue reading Philip Jeck – AN ARK FOR THE LISTENER

Zeitkratzer – OLD SCHOOL: ALVIN LUCIER

Zeitkratzer The same blind faith that illuminates any encounter with Phill Niblock and Eliane Radigue’s mind-expanding upper partials guided my hand as I reached for Zeitkratzer’s rendition of Alvin Lucier’s music. It hardly matters that the five pieces tackled by Reinhold Friedl’s ensemble aren’t exactly the most legendary in the composer’s oeuvre: the expert acuity of the musicians – with honourable mentions to Burkhard Schlothauer (violin, viola) and Anton Lukoszevieze (cello) for defining the exquisite parabolic charm of Fideliotrio and Violynn – does the business, leaving listeners free to enjoy the shifting balance of auditory perception. The same applies to … Continue reading Zeitkratzer – OLD SCHOOL: ALVIN LUCIER

David First – PRIVACY ISSUES (DRONEWORKS 1996 – 2009)

XI Privacy Issues is to drone connoisseurs what a huge block of succulent cheese is to a horde of mice, a triple whammy ultimate testament to David First’s addiction to that resource (drones, not cheese). Amidst the dozens of artistic settings that he’s taken part in, from pop to chamber music, during a career that began as a young guitarist in a Cecil Taylor performance, First has always maintained a keen compositional interest in aural slowmotion. Several of these tracks are extremely valuable from a purely psychophysical point of view: neither corporeal nor overly ethereal, their use of gradual glissando … Continue reading David First – PRIVACY ISSUES (DRONEWORKS 1996 – 2009)

Two With Stefano Pastor

Stefano Pastor / Kash Killion – BOWS (Slam) Stefano Pastor / George Haslam / Claudio Lugo / Giorgio Dini – FREEDOM (Slam / Silta) Stefano Pastor, who hails from Genoa, is an excellent violinist with an atypical gravelly tone (he fits his instrument with electric guitar strings) sweetened by a melodic sensibility that keeps him far from both Mediterranean stereotypes and excessive complexity. He also doubles on flugelhorn and percussion on Bows, a duo with Kash Killion, a cellist from California of Indian origin whose sarangi skills are in evidence in “Shanti”, an irreproachable contemporary raga. The meeting occurs at … Continue reading Two With Stefano Pastor