Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Ragnar Johnson
Title: Crying Bamboos: Ceremonial Flute Music from New Guinea Madang
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Ideologic Organ
Recorded in 1979 but never released until now, “Crying Bamboos” is a 100-minute set of traditional ceremonial flute recordings from Guinea presented, as the Instragram generation might say, with “hashtag no filter”.

Across thirteen relatively long and mostly solo pieces, flutes are played in patterns mostly quite alien to the ear of someone used to traditional Western music. Forgive my limited musicology here, but there’s a tendency towards alternating between two notes for quite a long time, before catching you out with the sudden introduction of third and fourth notes that dance around, rather than replace, the first two. A little like Finnish yoik music, the tempo shifts almost constantly on the whim of the performer, making speed rather than melody the dominant method of expression much of the time- understandably from flutes which seem to have relatively small tonal options.

Listeners who enjoy spotting common threads and patterns that run through music worldwide might or might not agree with me that “Tomung Gingong, Bosmun” has the makings of a techno track in a parallel universe.

It was originally recorded on quarter-inch magnetic tape- if you’re interested, here are some details:.. at a professional speed of seven and a half inches per second on a Uher Report L Stereo tape recorder using two high quality directional microphones fixed in an isosceles triangle formation.

It’s been transferred and mastered by Dave Hunt in London, and while I haven’t heard the original quality to compare, this seems to be an excellent mastering job- sounding bright and balanced, with audible birdsong often in the background yet no apparent tape hiss or muffled EQ throughout. A modern field recording of the same performance may perhaps have been punchier but for a 1979 recording the result is extremely good.

It’s a properly authentic bit of field recording that will appeal to anyone looking for ethnic musical diversity that hasn’t been bent into Western structures or cheesily bundled as relaxation music.
cover
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Pavilion / Paviljonas
Format: CD + Download
Label: MIC Lithuania
A compilation of selected excerpts from sound art pieces and field recordings made for audio-visual art installations, “Pavilion / Paviljonas” is a interesting sampler package with a good range of variety across 8 tracks that range in length from 18 seconds to over 10 minutes.

Every track and the release itself has both an English title and a Lithuanian title, I’m using the English titles here solely for brevity and since this is an English review, no disrespect to the Lithuanian titles is intended.

Viktorija Damerell’s opener “I Force Myself” loops some poetic English-language vocal mantras seek your attention and empathy but many of the other pieces are more incidental, more ambient and decidedly more sparse- Ramnas Motiekaitis’s “I Can’t Get Through to You” a lightweight and unpredictable bubbly percussive disorientation, and Kristina Inirait’s “Mother” an exercise in close-set field recording of everyday actions, full of small metal door opening and conversation and reminiscent of some Art Of Noise incidental elements. While described in the press release as ‘an exercise in active listening’, this isn’t necessarily required, and you can, if you prefer, engage with these works purely as background and environmental pieces.

After Emilija Škarnulyt’s “Ablation Zone”, an unsettling cold environment of distant wolf howls, it feels very appropriate to meet the campfire sounds, warm conversation and (again distant) ethnic flutesong of Arturas Bumšteinas’ “Year of the Catdog”. It’s followed by Gail Gricit’s “some of all of that” that seems to hybridise gentle lapping wave noises and breathing into a very soporific and relaxing result.

The inclusion of Julijonas Urbonas’s “Sounding Door”- literally just an 18 second sound effect of a very creaky door- seems somewhat tongue-in-cheek, yet not actually out of context, as it works as a prelude for final piece “numbers” by Darius iuta which, with its short violin notes, wodden percussive noises (rowing boats? More campfires?) and high pitched electric whining, somes as close to conventional music as this compilation dares to wander- which, in truth, is not very close at all.

The Music Information Centre Lithuania (now seemingly just calling themselves MIC Lithuania) have put out some fascinating and exemplary pieces of modern experimental music, and while this collection is a sampler built from extracts and therefore maybe not as coherent as some, this is nevertheless a very strong work in its own right.
cover
Artist: She Spread Sorrow
Title: Midori
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
After her previous releases, She Spread Sorrow, the musical project of Alice Kudalini, change direction a bit. First of all, Midori is presented by the label a sort of concept album as it "tells a story, the escape from a harsh reality", and it's clearly audible as this release is based upon a narration which seems evolving as the tracks goes by and it revolves around lyrics.
As the first track, "Escape", starts, there's the immediate feeling that sonically something is changed as, instead of a noise-oriented framework, there's a quiet but uncomfortable ambient background for the voice of Alice Kundalini. "Night One" is, instead, a sort of return to her canonical style with abrasive sonic interludes to the narration. The evocative soundscape of "The House" has a theatrical quality which seems from field recordings instead of electronic instruments. The piano resonances and the synth's crescendo of "Who Are You, Midori?" is remarkable in its equilibrium. The sharp flashes of noise of "To The Light" mirrors the quietness of the underlining drone. "End Of Midori" closes this release with a sequence of musical movements ranging from pop songs to cinematic soundscape and noise interludes.
Multifaceted and full of movement to be a release lasting only 41 minutes, it's a real improvement from this artist and perhaps it will ends in some end of the year playlist. Truly recommended.
cover
Artist: Nihil Impvlse (@)
Title: Teil II - Stasis
Format: CD
Label: Interitvs Nvmen (@)
Rated: *****
This release is the second of three aktions, term that reveals the influence of this project, aiming to describe the mechanism which close mankind in a psychological invisible prison. While his predecessor, "Katabasis", was a long track mostly relying on atmosphere created with noise and samples. This is a more fragmented release and has a more polished sound.
The first track of this release, "Sacrament", is marked by grave strings and sparse beats of the bell. "Psychik Plague" features spoken words introducing a second part based on noises introducing the sonic assault of "Ek-stasis" quietly ending in the evocative "A Prison Within A Prison" which, after an introduction based on voices and a sharp drone evolves in a sonic depiction of a war. "Zeitgeist Pentothal" creates his tension hinting a crescendo that never happens. "Krankheitsfelder" is an apparently static track based on imperceptible variations of the background. "Ordeal Of Awareness" closes this release with distorted voice created a sort of clever power electronics. The classical samples of the end hint at the third part of this project.
This release has an undeniable due to certain black industrial but has a personal interpretation of it and a couples of ideas which makes this release a good pick for fans of the genre. However it's something for champagne tastes.
cover
Artist: The Pitch & Splitter Orchester
Title: Frozen Orchestra (Splitter)
Format: CD + Download
Label: Mikroton
Splitter Orchester’s latest ‘collaboration’ is a slight over-statement since three of the four members of The Pitch are Splitter Orchester members already so it wouldn’t be a stretch to call this a Splitter Orchester release.

And what it is, is an exactly 60-minute single piece of slow arhythmic ambience, tone, drone performed by 23 performers predominantly on traditional instruments (multiple clarinets, cello, tuba, piano, guitar and more) but with the prominent use of oscillators, electronics and live tape-to-tape manipulation that gives us a genuine hybrid of modern experimental orchestral work. Performers play supremely long sustained notes and chords that meander in and out in randomised waves and the evolution is formed from the changes in layer combination.

Around a third of the way through some of the guitar plucking borders on the percussive, as do a handful of piano notes in the final third, but these are subtle exceptions to an otherwise very consistently enveloped and ebbing performance where chance, of which there is plenty, is so gradual and morphic that you aren’t even conscious that it is happening. The planning feels exemplary, from the opening slow builds to the warmer more resolution-laden quiet ending.

It’s bold and striking and I wish I were able to see it performed live, where I’m sure the mesmeric power of it would increase. It’s not in itself afforded of many new ideas, but that’s not a criticism- an object doesn’t have to have originality to be beautiful, and that’s what this piece really is, albeit in that dark and unsettling way that adds the extra layer of intrigue that can sometimes be the icing on the cake.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha