Music Reviews

Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Sonopsies
Format: CD
Label: Cameras Animales (@)
Rated: *****
I've been putting off this review like the last pea on a plate from a dinner that was just too filling. My lack of comprehension of it will become clearer as you read on. 'Sonopsies' is a compilation CD from the French publishing house Caméras Animales, specializing in avant-garde poets, spoken word and multi-media artists, and on this CD, avant garde electronics. The title - Sonopsies = sound autopsies. (A sonopsy is to sounds what an autopsy is to body.) This is a diverse collection of works utterly lacking in any continuity; more like a smorgasbord or tasting party over 16 tracks of unusual, exotic sonic foodstuffs. Unlike food or wine though, where you can appreciate foreign cuisine or beverage without understanding the language, it would be very helpful to have a comprehension of French to get the most out of it. Unfortunately, I don't, which puts me at a disadvantage, and as such, a good portion of my impressions will be cursory and visceral.

SÃomulçi' Gonn'¥c (pseudonym of Jme Gugginø, founder of Awkwardist Productions) opens 'Sonopsies' up with a piece utilizing scattered percussion, some sparse electronics and a computer generated voice reciting a nonsequitious poem in English called 'Cylindricals' but it still comes across as oblique. M. Savant Stifleson (another musical project of Jme Gugginø) offers 'Agglutina,' a chanted phrased in a language I'm unfamiliar with accompanied by trip-hopish percussion and cymbal tones. Kinda neat, more for its tribal sound than any comprehension of it. Méryl Marchetti's 'Impro 1' sounds like a manic story rant in French with chimey things in the background. I'm clueless about this one. R3PLYc4N (Mathias Richard - voice, harmonica, computer) incorporates light repetitive electronic sequenced phrases, breakdrums and other percussion, and barely there vocals to create a surreal dream-like ambience. It totters on the edge of sanity. Flatline Skyline is R. Scott and J. Kemp, and their contribution 'Be Good To Them Always' is trashy 80's, maybe what you'd get if you mixed The Cure and PIL. So far the most comprehensible track on the album, even if the tortured vocal in English is a bit wacked. ElFuego Fatuo is a French-Spanish poetic collective from Barcelona. Their 'Il paraît' incorporates ambient electronics and female spoken word (sometimes electronically processed) in French. I'm lost, for over 9 minutes. M. Savant Stifleson returns with 'epricooprio Prek,' a rhythmically quirky pop tune that sounds pretty cool, often using the title words in the vocal. Mushin offers 'Manifeste Mutantiste' ' female spoken word in French over a varied electro-acoustical soundscape. Would have been meaningful if I knew French, but the soundscape was interesting. Long track at over 10 ½ minutes.

Ichtyor Tides employs dual male/female spoken word (in French, of course) on 'loss/ANGLE\less' with Varèse style electronics and a subtle drone running though it which grows louder towards the end. M. Savant Stifleson returns again with 'bobbledred'd Nature's pre-grim rims, you've prissy inSeenshpí,' another peculiar electronic tune with female vocal that repeats the title over and over. Awkwardist (Jme Gugginø) warps electronics, loops, tapes, and who knows what else in 'jufamil N or N-O'. Forakte begins a western bluesy electric guitar improv intro before launching into an incomprehensible song with vocals somewhere between Beefheart and black metal with some squalling electronics in the background. Just painful. Sun Thief is the ritual drone and atmospheric project of Adam Wetterhan (from Columbus, Ohio) and offers a magnificent track titled 'Saturnalia (Lights Return)'. It begins as a cosmic soundscape and evolves into something more melodically musical with electronic organ leading the way over a percussion track. It's a rich pastiche of black light stoner music. Pass the bong please. Méryl Marchetti reprises with 'Impro 2' which is similar to 'Impro 1' although less manic and just spoken word this time. 'Any Elk' is yet another kooky electronic pop tune by M. Savant Stifleson, and of course, 'Any Elk' appears plenty of times in the lyrics. Last track is by Thierry Théolier who recites his diatribe (yes, of course in French) over a percussion loop laced with staticy and distorted noise elements.

Jme Gugginø seems to dominate the compilation purely on the amount of tracks, which in a way, turns out not to be a bad thing as they are some of the most inventive ones. Still, there is enough interesting material on 'Sonopsies' to make it a worthwhile purchase for those looking for something blatantly off the wall, mais si votre français est vraiment rouillées, you might want to opt for a Rosetta Stone program.

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