Music Reviews

Jibóia: OOOO

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Nov 28 2018
Artist: Jibóia
Title: OOOO
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Discrepant
Óscar Silva’s Jibóia project reaches its fourth album, and SIlve is joined by Ricardo Martins and André Pinto. Although the concept behind it is described in relatively high-art terms, referencing Pythagoras’ Musica Univeralis and the limbo between fiction and reality, what you actually get on record is the sound of a free jazz trio enjoying themselves and wigging out in a moderately disciplined manner. The musicality and the production quality is top-notch but this is is a release that recalls the music of the ‘70s more than it cuts any edges.

The first side contains the atmospheric opener “Diapason”, then the much more upbeat and waving-your-arms-about-friendly “Diapente” that reminds me of Silver Apples. That comparison holds firm for “Diatesseron”, where the long sustained melodic high notes give a more alarmist feel.

The second side is given over to single 16-minute track “Topos” which has a more journeyman structure to it and just a faint dose of what you might label funk or groove, as well as a tonality that is just a shade more Eastern.

Forty or fifty years ago a release like this would have praised to the skies by jazz and Floyd fans, though they may have found it too upbeat for late-at-night horizontal listening; as it is, it stands sounding more like a tribute piece, but at the same time, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that and it’s a fresh and bright-sounding bit of work from the rockier side of jazz.

Hanno Leichtmann: Nouvelle Aventure

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Nov 27 2018
Artist: Hanno Leichtmann
Title: Nouvelle Aventure
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Karlrecords
Some of the biggest names in ‘new music’ are associated with the Darmstadt school- Stockhausen, Cage, Boulez, Ligeti, Messiaen and many more. The school’s Summer Courses for New Music have a recorded archive stretching back 70 years, and in true ‘new’ fashion, instead of drily reissuing archival recordings ‘as is’ and making them seem stuffy and no longer avantgarde by context, instead Hanno Leichtmann has been let loose on the recordings in order to not collate them but sample them, twist them, create homages to them and generally freshen them up into a work that’s both old and new.

Sometimes we revel not in the lectures but in the music itself. The theatrics and bold tape manipulations of the 1960’s are most notably on display in tracks like “Substanzsuche”, with pieces like “Klangfigur (fur Klavier, Stimmen und Regler” openly melodic. There are elements of spoken word recordings dropped in, as short snippets or as elements looping into abstraction, in a manner that strangely recalls the Monkees movie “Head” (a reference that may seem obtuse but which will become apparent to people who’ve listened to both), especially when the accents are American.

At other times, pieces like “Einheit von Maß und Zahl” are more faithful to the lecture format, inserting a large chunk of spoken word explanation about feeding a music score into a computer and underpinning it with drone and spontaneous percussion in a manner reminiscent of Johann Johannson’s “IBM 1401”.

It’s a very refreshing way to revisit and rework an archive. A movement of artists whose core work involved challenging preconceptions would, I presume, be generally satisfied that their work has been reappropriated in such a manner. What we have here, in effect, is an intriguing and high-quality bit of music history that’s also brand new.

Monty Adkins: Still Juniper Snow

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Nov 26 2018
Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Still Juniper Snow
Format: CD + Download
Label: Huddersfield Contemporary Records
In this short concept piece, Monty Adkins “paints over” acoustic pieces performed by Sarah-Jane Summers and the Bozzini Quartet. The original performance was inspired by Norwegian landscapes, and Scottish and Norwegian folk traditions. Adkins has stripped away the performance elements, smothering them in processing and reverb, stretching and washing them until only the atmospheres and broad tones remain.

After “Hollow” and “Distant Waters”, two pieces of slightly more generic cold-yet-positive drone from which the origins would be very hard to guess, it’s in third piece “Spiral Paths” that more of the original source material is exposed and the unique reworking approach really clicks. The plaintive violin work rolling across the melodic slow bass drone in a much more cinematic fashion.

It’s a curious concept piece that feels like it’s not given enough time to really breathe as a drone work, and in “Spiral Paths”, just hints at what award-winning soundtrack album could be conceived if this area was delved into more deeply.

Kim Myhr / Quatuor Bozzini / Caroline Bergvall / Ingar Zach: Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Nov 22 2018
Artist: Kim Myhr / Quatuor Bozzini / Caroline Bergvall / Ingar Zach
Title: Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Hubro
Four artist names are credited on this release, although while “Quatuor Bozzini” may sound like an individual’s name, it’s actually a Montreal-based string quartet. As the composer Kim Myhr’s name is given prominence at the top of the artwork. However, despite this, this release seems more like a Caroline Bergvall release, with Bergvall reading her own dreamy slow thoughtful poetry while the other artists contribute soft soundscaping and cinematic atmospherics that compliment and paint pictures around the words.

Myhr’s own guitar work is prominent, often responsible for the more frequent and repetitive strumming that provides a rhythmic backbone beside which the string quartet’s lines and Zach’s percussion are allowed to meander and drift in a more leisurely fashion. There are more upbeat moments, such as “Future Present” which borders on jazz, lyrically seems to evoke the sketchiness of Karl Hyde works, and which sounds like it’s building to an almost poppy crescendo that never arrives, while more downbeat moments include the plaintive discordant sorrow of “Days” and the more spacious and reflective “Burning”.

In “Thngs Dspr” Bergvall’s voice adopts a melodic quality that sits it between poetry and singing and it has a captivatingly pleasant quality to it that warrants its limelighting.

The poetry commands your attention and will determine your response to this release as a whole, sure to be huskily comforting for some listeners and disengaging for others, making this a ‘your mileage may vary’ release, but for me this is quality fodder for late evenings at home.
Artist: Oren Ambarchi & Jim O'Rourke with special guest U-Zhaan
Title: Hence
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Editions Mego
“Both comforting and subtly strange” is a given description of this album and it’s very apt. Across two twenty-minute parts, simply labelled ‘Hence One’ and ‘Hence Two’, we get a concoction which has atmospheric drone at its base, but which is layered with a fairly generous variety of obtuse and self-contained layers, ranging from processed guitar to bleepier analogue electronic noises, laid up into long patterns that slowly undulate, build and fade as though taking keyframe points from topography of a rather gentle hill walk.

The tabla rhythms from special guest U-zhaan are a prominent part of the jigsaw here. Those contributions are less heavily treated and processed than some of the other elements. With a tonality that gives the work a decidedly pan-geographic flavour for which you would be hard pushed to stick a pin on a map- shades of Japan, shades of Africa, shades of more Western sensibilities, it’s a blend that works but is hard to categorise. The second part of the work is a shade lighter and more melodic, with bubbly electronics complimenting the gentle plucking work.

The result is a gentle and mellow, yet complex, ambient and soft electronica arrangement with a distinctive and very approachable flavour.
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