Music Reviews



Anthony Burr & Anthony Pateras: The Long Exhale

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Feb 03 2017
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Artist: Anthony Burr & Anthony Pateras (@)
Title: The Long Exhale
Format: CD
Label: Immediata
Rated: *****
Well, try to imagine a couple of fictitious scenarios. The first one: you are inside a white room, and besides you, there's only one painting hanging on one wall; whenever you focus on a detail of the portrayed scene (any scene), it disappears and this process loop till only the framework or other relatively insignificant detail. It's like that piece of art or representation gradually lost its function without any other relation in an empty world. The second scenario: the initial conditions are the same of the first one, but instead of disappearing each detail you focus on detaches from the scene or changes by itself into something unimportant like a spot of color with no relation to the other portrayed elements. You could find such a preface slightly elusive, but for some mysterious reasons, the music your eardrums will meet in this output by Australian pianist, composer and electro-acoustic musician Anthony Pateras developed with his fellow countryman, the clarinet player Anthony Burr, whose path has crossed the ones of well-respected and well-known big names of American avant-garde and minimalist scene such as Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young, could get sticked to the above sketched scenarios. Belonging to the planned 15 volumes series of extremely limited CD edition on Pateras' dedicated imprint Immediata ('The Long Exhale' is the seventh ring of this chain), the seven meditations on clarinet, piano and electronics orbit around that declension of minimalism embodied by latest outputs by Morton Feldman, where any tonal life signs of each instrument are sometimes rare, as if they got narcotized by other likewise thin elements of the composition. It's what you'll notice on the opening "some association I didn't know about", where a sort of perpetual ARP oscillation acts like the opiate that drugged other instruments up, or on "that wasn't the idea at all", where thumping piano chords on lower keys seems to hamper any attempt of sketching a melody by the clarinet. Similar dynamics resurface on the other meditations, sounding like an attempt of making chamber music in a room filled with opium smoke. As for previous outputs, Pateras also included a 16-page booklet including the transcription of a long interview/conversation with Burr intended to focus on Burr itself by means of extensive talking about many different subjects (they covered the Brisbane underground in the 80ies, experimental rock of Chicago in the 90ies, hip hop, classical music marketing, and Burr's collaborations with Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young).

Laurence Crane / Asamisimasa: Sound Of Horse

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Feb 02 2017
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Artist: Laurence Crane / Asamisimasa (@)
Title: Sound Of Horse
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
I guess the John White, quoted in the title of the opening extended suite "John White In Berlin" (composed in 2003), is the English experimental composer and performer, who invented the so-called systems music, the British branch derived from American minimalism, as the seeming stasis of the track, vaguely reminds the style of that John White: one of the most amazing feature of this suite for electric guitar, cello, piano and percussion is the slow succession of almost looping similar chords on flute and piano over a likewise almost motionless reverberating sound (supposedly derived by the slow brushing of cymbals), which seems unpredictable just when listeners think he'll predict its slow procession by truncating phrases or changing the primary instrument just whenever a phrase is close to its supposed end. This first composition unveils some of the features of its author, the London-based composer Laurence Crane, whose unpredictable but placid compositional quirkiness got masterfully performed by avant-garde-oriented Norwegian ensemble Asamisimasa. The sudden end of the short "Old Life Was Rubbish" (a short composition for open instrumentation, dating back 1998, performed by Asamisimasa using an electric guitar, a piano and a bass clarinet) sounds like a rude awakening that interrupts a lovely dream, just when it was going fine) and a similar bittersweet aftertaste gets evoked by the sudden vanishing of the lulling instrumental voices (a cello, a clarinet and an electric organ) that feed the daydreaming suite of the following "Riis". According to some reviewers of Laurence's music, this sort of humorous "castration" (someone could nicely consider him a cheeky bastard!) could get explained by a typically English way of being. Similarly some suitably English manias and an enjoyable self-mockery resurface along the funny three parts of "Events", a suite for three clarinets, a vibraphone and a voice, who sings about a series of facts related to 7th February 1997, the day when it was composed (a list of people, their age and profession celebrating their birthday on that day in the first part, a selection of foreign exchange rates and a list of places and their weather conditions at 12 AM on that day...it was raining in Bristol...) and the unpredictable rages of crazy rockish explosions in a typically chamber music suite in 7 parts that give the title to this amazing collection. The choice of such a bizarre title - "Sound of Horse" - has a double meaning, as it refers to both the place where the idea behind the piece was conceived - Horse is the name of a sound (a stretch of water) in Scottish Highlands nearby the Coigach Peninsula - and the sound that guitarist Mick Ronson sometimes made by his instrument. According to Laurence own words, "on a few occasions during Mick Ronson's work with David Bowie in 1970-73, he made his guitar sound like a horse's 'neigh', most notably on the song 'Time' on the LP 'Aladdin Sane'"....and we all know how English gentlemen love horses!

Peter Adriaansz: Enclosures

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Feb 01 2017
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Artist: Peter Adriaansz (@)
Title: Enclosures
Format: CD
Label: Ergodos (@)
Rated: *****
On the occasion of the release of "Three vertical Swells" and "Music for Sines, Percussion, E-bows and Variable Ensemble" by Unsounds, we had the chance to extensively talk about the exploratory approach by Dutch composer Peter Adriaansz (during an interesting interview with him). This recent output on Irish label Ergodos could be a further aural supplement to understand better Adriaansz' sonic art (or I'd rather say science, as the approach to sound treatment is sometimes scientific). It embraces the years between 2008 and 2013 and all the four chamber works, representing according to Peter's words various phases in his compositional development, included in this selection got exclusively written for the involved ensembles and musicians. The earliest work, "Enclosures", is the one that gives the name to the whole collection, as a tribute to Irish keyboard player and musicologist Bob Gilmore (sadly gone in the beginning of 2015), and features the performance of Gilmore himself, whose slight oscillations matches the intent of the Peter's research: all the three parts (each of them lasting approximately 7 minutes) of this suite get based on a study on interval and time, where the involved aural inputs (Gilmore's oscillations, Elisabeth Smalt's viola, and Alfrun Schmid's spectral voice) get gradually and almost imperceptibly faster by three different initial starting points. The whole listening experience sounds closer to the rendering of psyco-acoustic algorithms as well as slightly hypnotical (particularly the first and the third parts). Time has a primary role in "Phrase", the first of two related piece composed in 2011 for Ensemble Klang (Erik-Jan De With on alto and soprano saxophone, Pete Harden on guitar, Joey Marijs on vibraphone, Chinese gongs and table dulcimer, and Saskia Lankhoorn on piano and autoharp), where each looping lines got continuously slowed down and sped up to reach a sort of inner balance against a likewise changing sine wave. On the other hand, the relation between interval and tempo got investigated in the second piece "Fraction": the only "static" element seems to be the wind one, while the others (autoharp, guitar, and percussions) got accelerated and decelerated on the basis of Henry Cowell's harmonic tempo scales (another link to Irish culture, due to the strict relation and knowledge of the American composer and Irish musical folk tradition). The most recent suite of this collection is the opening "Attachments," a composition for an enharmonically prepared piano, where Saskia Lanmkhoorn explored many excellent combinations and features offered by a piano, whose strings got modified by a series of paperclips and rubbers.

Eric Wong: YYSSN

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Feb 01 2017
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Artist: Eric Wong (@)
Title: YYSSN
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Minneapolis-born Hong Kong raised and Berlin-based guitar performer Eric Wong is the author of this amazing release on Portuguese label Creative Sources, named after the initial of each of the five pieces he collected here. Since the opening track "Yut", where he interlocks fast tapping, rubbing and pizzicato on his guitar together with sound processing that could let you think he's trying to change the state of matter of this amalgamation of guitar-driven sounds (if you can imagine audible elements as a physical entity), a listener can quickly catch his full command of the devices he handles as well as the inventiveness of his approach to the instrument. I particularly enjoyed that sort of stressing test that Eric proposed on the central track "Saam", where decaying low tones that disfigured the sound of guitar follows almost five minutes of over-strained and over-compressed guitar tones - a technique that sound reprised in the last part of the track -, and the bizarre "Sei", where the listeners can imagine that Eric managed to render an imaginary alien shop of cuckoo clocks by a weird alternation between a strange chirping and sudden cogs of such a chirping stream. The starting point of the other tracks - "Yee" and the final "NG" - are isolated guitar chords, that he gradually processed and dissected according to an approach that could let you think of unexpected and unrepeatable moments of manic lucidity by an experienced guitarist.

Koji Maruyama: comune

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Jan 27 2017
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Artist: Koji Maruyama
Title: comune
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Mimi (@)
Distributor: Archive.org
Though Comune is woefully short, it stands up to multiple listens and fills this listener with childhood storybook wonderment. “Op.344” is a lot like Keith Jarret's early work, paradoxically sparse and full, assertive, a magic tune. With its cheery wind instrument opening melody, “Uzume” follows it with cascading piano that practically pans a wondrous anime landscape that would do Hayao Miyazaki proud. A minute-long song, it is a well-crafted, compact diamond at that. “Aoi Hasu” opens with slow rhythmic piano that slowly gains momentum as the song progresses, a train departing a station, then picking up speed as additional piano melodies are joined by strings, chimes and wind instruments that inspire visions of pastoral landscapes. A billowing, dreamy wistfulness with a melancholic lining wafts over the track like smoke from a locomotive. “Venice” is a live recording and no less beautiful, and evokes the music of Joe Hisaishi's piano music, but taps into more complicated, intangible moods rather than just the drama of an anime soundtrack. Playful, mellifluous, wistfully melancholic with fleeting moments of joy and yearning, Koji Maruyama's Comune is one of the gems in the trove of Archive.org.
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