Music Reviews



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Artist: MUELLER/KAHN/WOLFARTH
Title: Drumming
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
"Drumming" is quite a deceiving title if taken literally, though Kahn's liner notes in Creative Sources website are explicit: this trio recording is meant to further explore the possibility of drumming beyond the usual notions and tecniques. Both Jason Kahn (here at laptop) and Guenter Mueller (here at ipod and electronics) have creatively played drums and percussions for years before almost exclusively moving to electronics; and their experimental approach is evidently shared by Christian Wolfarth, whose minimal drum set is barely distinguishable from the digital mist of his two companions. Much like Kahn's typically abstract yet somehow organic layout, the nine improvised tracks are a successful blend of algid electronic particles and an urgent rhythmic flow, especially in little gems like "Drumming 2" and "Drumming 4", the latter with a train-like loop throbbing beneath.
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Artist: DOERNER/KAPLAN/CHAMY
Title: Absence
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
One of the most esteemed performers in contemporary improvisation, trumpet Axel Doerner is here portrayed in a live in studio recording which took place in Buenos Aires in 2003. His accomplices are Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) and Diego Chamy (percussion): the former uses his instrument pretty much in a Doerner-like style, so that their frantic blowing, hisses and crackles make for intense duets, while Chamy punctuates the performance with sparse, but loud banging on unidentified percussions (probably bare metal pieces). If you're already familiar with Doerner's improvisation tecniques, this disc won't take you by surprise, but it will be a nice add anyway; otherwise, it could be a good starting point.
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Artist: DOUG THERIAULT/BRYAN EUBANKS
Title: Big Clouds in the Sky Today
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
Two tracks recorded live in Portland this April, improvised by Theriault at "sensor guitar controlling" and live electronics and Eubanks at "open circuit electronics", which I have honestly no clue about - maybe it's a kind of synth, or some self-built effect. The two pieces, "don't worry about the future" and "a majestic", are quite massive in length (21 and 41 minutes respectively), and unfortunately quite similar in the sound amalgamation: harsh and granular guitar noise and equally noisy electronic interventions. "Big Clouds in the Sky Today" suffers the risk of many improvised and unedited recordings: the listening experience is fascinating dunring the very first minutes, only to become stale afterwards. The duo's performance is not as varied and graceful as improvisation has to be, and not as brutally pregnant as a good harsh noise recording.
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Artist: FHIEVEL
Title: Le baptÍme de la solitude
Format: CD
Label: petite sono]
Rated: *****
I remember a harsh and intense live set by Luca Bergero/Fhievel which I had the chance to see a couple of years ago; the sounds he used were sharp and grey-tinged, making for a very claustrophobic and solipsistic performance. This limited edition cdr on the Canadian label petite sono], coming in a minimal but elegant and very well conceived b/w design, shows how Bergero's experimentation in the lowercase/microsounds field has improved and reached a remarkable level of aesthetic purity. "Le baptême de la solitude" features three untitled compositions where natural field recordings, high-end crackles, hisses and sometimes melodic drones are carefully blent and structured. Everything is subdued and understated, yet emotionally moving; Bergero knows how to hit the right spot where many, using the same ingredients, would fail to impress. This work often reminded me of Keith Berry's similar approach: not overtly lowercase, yet not tipically ambient, but rather a successful bridge between the two.
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Artist: COIL / THE NEW BLOCAKDERS / VORTEX CAMPAIGN
Title: Dolbied
Format: CD
Label: Black Rose (@)
Rated: *****
Released twenty years ago on a limited edition tape of only 50 copies, DOLBIED is a noise project that gathers the sonic experimentations of early Coil, The New Blockaders and Vortex Campaign. If you know the early Coil material such as the track "S is for sleep" or their Zos Kia / Coil tape, well, this one has got nothing to do with those sounds. Here the two long tracks of that tape make you release what the sound experimentation was back in the '80s. The sound collage, son of the cut-ups experiments of Burroughs, find the three bands performing a magmatic performance made of clanging sounds, feedbacks (on the first part) and treated guitars (mostly beaten ones, it seems), metallic feedbacks, echoed percussive sounds and whatever could sound like hell on earth on the second part. The release as a bonus, contains also three Vortex Campaign tracks (the last two are unreleased tracks titled "The melancholy mad tenant pt.1 and pt.2") which present a sound less caothic, respect the DOLBIED tape, based on primordial loops made out of feedbacks and percussive sounds: the result is hypnotic and alienating at the same time. This is your chance to discover the roots of industrial music and even if sometimes it could sound naive, remember: that is history. The release is limited to 500 copies (100 of them are into a cloth bag) and the CD is contained into an hand made three painted panel package.
Check also: www.thresholdhouse.com and www.thenewblockaders.org.uk
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