Music Reviews



COH + COSEY FANNI TUTTI: Coh Plays Cosey

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 25 2008
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Artist: COH + COSEY FANNI TUTTI (@)
Title: Coh Plays Cosey
Format: CD
Label: Raster Noton (@)
Rated: *****
At first I was thinking that COH PLAYS COSEY was a sort of tribute album, instead, Ivan Pavlov (active since nineties with his project and also as a Coil collaborator) isn't covering Cosey, he's playing her. How? Well, let's start from the beginning. Everything took form from e-mail discussions Ivan and Cosey had about things like human vulnerabilities, their perceptions or reactions to situations, etc. Ivan suggested to Cosey to create a diary of voice sounds that represented and exorcised the clusters of emotional responses to events over a period of time. Ivan took all these sounds and reworked them producing nine tracks. "Closer", "Crazy", "Mad", "Sin-king", "Lost", "Near you", "Fuck it", "Inside" and "Lying" are intimate moments where the listener is taking the role of a peeping Tom due to the personal nature of the recordings. The voice of Cosey has been dismembered and reprocessed and these sounds have been used like a functional background where Ivan pasted Cosey's phrases. Only on "Lying" we have the add of Cosey's trumpet (which can be seen always as a vehicle since it can't work without Cosey's blow) but everything else has been made from sounds produced by her mouth. Musically the album sounds minimal and glitch and silence has an important role. Rhythm is used with parsimony and mostly at the end of tracks when Ivan makes the sound grow. This is the fist chapter of an ongoing project and it is possible that we'll soon see the "Cosey plays Coh" album.

Rent Romus' Lords of Outland: You Can Sleep When You're Dead

 Posted by Michael Grillo   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 24 2008
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Artist: Rent Romus' Lords of Outland
Title: You Can Sleep When You're Dead
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distrubution Alliance
Rated: *****
Rent Romus’s Lords of Outland’s latest release "You Can Sleep When You’re Dead" is definitely an album that will keep you awake and on your toes with its in your face blend of free-jazz, hardcore, and experimental electronica. The album offers an abrasive collection of tracks that sounds like James and Chance and the Contortions on some dangerous mixture of meth and speedballs. The songs are mostly comprised of noise jazz played on the saxophone, drums, and bass, with electronics being used minimally for added effect. However, as abrasive as the music is, it is much easier on the ears than John Zorn’s hardcore jazz works. And for you Zorn fans out there, this album doesn’t have any Japanese guys screaming gibberish. Additionally, the album also has some more relaxed moments, in that the pace is slower such as tracks like "The Demonic Circus of Certified Insular Asshogs" and "Disturbing Emergence" (FYI, I hear that the process for obtaining Insular Asshog Certification is rigorous). Though, even with these mellower tracks the album as a whole has an intensity to it that makes me fidgety and unsettled, especially with its off-time tempos and cluttered percussion. And this is coming from some one that listens to Merzbow while he studies. So, if you enjoy out there free jazz and noise music, then I would recommend this album. If you are looking for something more electronic, than Lords of the Outland would probably not be your cup of tea.

15 Degrees Below Zero: New Travel

 Posted by Michael Grillo   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 24 2008
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Artist: 15 Degrees Below Zero (@)
Title: New Travel
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distrubution Alliance
Rated: *****
15 Degrees Below’s recent release "New Travel" is an attempt at a neo-musique concrete sound that is built upon sampled sounds and melodies that are chopped up and reconfigured into a collection of cinematic soundscapes. While the album is very well produced and has an exceptionally good sound quality, it doesn’t really grab or excite you in any way. The problem with this record is that it is simply "typical experimental music." While this phrase may sound like somewhat of an oxymoron in that the goal of experimental music is to be untypical, what I mean here is that in the thirty years that have passed since artists started producing this type of cut and paste music a number of trademark elements have developed that are frequently used and have become synonymous with the genre such as chopped up improve guitar patterns, the random placement of electronic sounds and feedback, and distorted free jazz and lounge samples, all of which this album has. For example, the tracks "Circumference" and "Sunday Drive" for most part sounds like every song that Fred Frith has ever recorded. Though to give credit where it is due there are a few promising tracks on the album such as "Westward," which blends country western style guitar playing with a simplisitc ambient background and "Untitled Tube" which uses distorted guitar sounding samples and subdued ambient synths to a create a mood of hopelessness. These two tracks are the shining stars of "New Travel" in that they achieve something that many experimental artists can not, which is using unconventional methods to create music that stirs the emotions. If the whole album went in this direction it would have been something special, but unfortunately it did not and was thus dull and does not really offer much that has not already been done before and beaten to death by most experimental artists, which is a shame given that there is definitely the potential to do so.

WARREN BURT: The Animation of Lists And the Archytan Transpositions

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 23 2008
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Artist: WARREN BURT
Title: The Animation of Lists And the Archytan Transpositions
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Xi records (@)
Rated: *****
Ever heard speaking about music that’s "out of time"? If so, that’s the definition that came to my mind when I started having a clear perception of the audio-portrait painted by people like Scelsi, Ligeti or Feldman... and as you’ve probably guessed, the compositions of Warren Burt gave me the same vibe. The sound is really close to that of a glockenspiel much more than a vibraphone, but from what I’ve read in the line notes the work has been played with self-built "just-intonation tuning forks", it has been multi-tracked and later transposed with a computer. It looks like the idea of the first composition is linked to an old collaboration of Burt with Phill Niblock and recorded in three passes. A review would be too short and maybe inappropriate to add further technical details about the work, but the work behind this cd is really complex, above all for an ignorant listener/player like me. "I wish this complex two-part sonic object will provide the listener with many opportunities for contemplation and enjoyment"... for what concern contemplation, I can guarantee this music creates a deep and meditative atmosphere, but I seriously doubt "The Animation of Lists And the Archytan Transpositions" will generate something even barely comparable to "enjoyment". Thanks to an incredible sound definition and to the unique voice of his self-built instrument, Warren Burt floods the room with the resonance of every played note. What really add beauty to an already wonderful release is the tempo used by the composer, his quiet playing, his patiently waiting for the appropriate moment to go for the next note: all these things together generate an incredible acoustical dimension. The fact is that the impression everything is moving so slowly it is barely still is probably wrong since the succession of notes is not that sluggish but the impression I got is that during the listening inside the room everything is moving slowly. Burt plays the soundtrack for abandoned buildings where light and dust are the only tenants... it looks like an old black and white photo crystallizing a face forever. This’ an evocative work that in some way also reminded me of some of the best Cage’s works for prepared piano, if not acoustically at least for the odd ambience in which you get absorbed during the listening. It’s really hard to describe the intensity of this cd with a stupid review, but please do yourself a favor give it a listen.

Thick Wisps: (self-titled)

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 17 2008
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Artist: Thick Wisps (@)
Title: (self-titled)
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Earnest cut-up noise collage artistes Thick Wisps' debut CD has a lot going for it in terms of texture and stylistic range, although a bit undefined around the edges as to both composition and performance. The music itself is an all-instrumental, arrhythmic atonal wash of static drones, hums, random clicks and pops, and arcs of flanger and phaser sweeps that bespeak the infrastructural howls and rumblings of the innards of New York, and particularly Brooklyn, where this duo, made up of Giancarlo Bracchi and Juan Matos, is based.

The first and last of the seven tracks, the long "Organ Acumulator" [sic] and "Deluvio," were recorded "live" in-studio, without editing, which is a virtue any way you slice it in this ProTooled day and age. Overall a good first effort not yet up to the kind of gritty, witty electronic nihilism that the Wisps' New York predecessors Suicide were first known for, but then again why should everyone be required to even keep a beat (or have a "singer") in the first place? Put this on to hear the roar of a thousand long-gone Manhattan basement furnaces, or feel the inter-borough subway trains cut across your mind's eye.


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