Music Reviews



Don Preston: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 07 2012
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Artist: Don Preston
Title: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
Esteemed Belgian label Sub Rosa issues this bizarre audio-documentary about electronic pionierism of Don Preston, one of the key figure orbiting around legendary Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention, whose staid hippie-like figure behind old-fashioned synths has been immortalized in many clips. Known for his distinctive touch and his unflinching wonder for sonic research, he deeply influenced the stylistical path of that band and issues such as Uncle Meat or Ahead of Their Time, which marked Zappa's veering towards jazz as well as a more accentuated stylistical syncretism, are considired as authentic miliar stones of the evolutionary stages of MoI's sound and even if he was member of the combo for a limited time-span, his stamp was clear even after the arrival of Ian Underwood. Don Preston's vision was shining through his linear notes on Uncle Meat yet: "We're coming to the beginning of a new era wherein the development of the inner self is the most important thing. We have to train ourselves. So that we can improvise on anything: a bird, a sock, a fuming beaker. This is, this too can be music. Anything can be music." His prominent enthusiasm for possibilities given by electronic music devices, which remarkably widened expressive chances for musicians as well as the scope of investigation for sonic explorers, led him to enrich his creativity with deep listening of some masters of concrete and electroacoustic music such as Luciano Berio, Karheinz Stockhausen and Tod Dockstader while focusing on these magical sonic machines called synths - he developed a self-made instrument by combining an home-made synthesizer with various filters and oscillators - the one used for the assemblage of "Electronic", the first long-lasting track of this selection, recorded in 1967 - and gave his personal contributions to the enhancement and the integration in traditional line-ups of Mini-Moog, due to his close friedship with his inventor, Robert Moog. The placement collective imagination could assign to Don preston could prompt the association of some sounds to other elements of that scene - for example, the caterwaul-like whistle in the second track, the first of "Analog Heaven", a sort of mini-album recorded in 1975, included in this collection, could be mistaken for the whimpering of some groupie! -, but careful listener are going to enjoy, almost immediately, Preston's mindblowing style and tonal games whose dynamics could recall molly twist bracelets, as well as the attempt of giving to the compostion a certain cinematic attitude, in accordance with many musical researches of that age so that it's almost spontaneous thinking about those fish-eye, multi-coloured or filtered scenes when movie makers tried to represent some character's point of view under the effect of some mind-altering psychotic drug!

Wil Bolton: Under A Name That Hides Her

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 06 2012
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Artist: Wil Bolton
Title: Under A Name That Hides Her
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
This interesting release (the first on vinyl issued by Hibernate, adding a more remarkable patina to its main theme, related to nostalgia, whose musical translations seem to attract and fascinate an increasing number of listeners) signed by Wil Bolton aka CHEjU and titled from a quote referred to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice - "Under A Name That Hides Her" - echoing in Wil's consciousness while reading "the Space of Literature" by Maurice Blanchot seems a sort of skinny dipping in the ocean of memories or I'd better say it's a walking in unforgettable gardens if I consider the occasional field recordings with a specific spatial position (chirping birds or maybe call notes taken in the ruins of a medieval castle in Beaumaris, North Wales, seagulls and the lapping of waves around a lighthouse in Anglesey, noises grabbed during a rain shower from behind the window of his flat in Liverpool, other alluring natural sounds grabbed within a forest in Scottish Highlands as well as sounds taken from inside atrain during a journey in North Africa), a spontaneous mental dive which seems to have been conceived when Wil was looking for inspiration by many guitar-driven bands such as The velvet Underground, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine and The Cure he used to listen when he was a young pup. Those musical references are just rhizomatic and even if they look like dropping from tubular bells, nylon guitar plucks, electronic celesta and harp-like tolls, they've been masterfully amalgamated by Wil in the exhalations coming from inside his magical sonic cauldron taking heed of the main features of mnemonic process with bright sounds which suddenly black out, broken harmonies, blind alleys and cones of shadow. After "Time Lapse" on Hibernate and many release for other labels (Cathedral Transmissions, Distant Noise, Time Released Sound, Rural Colours, Boltfish, Kahvi Collective and so on), Wil Bolton comes back on the stage with the umpteenth great and catchy ambient record.

Rapoon: Disappeared Redux

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2012
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Disappeared Redux
Format: CD
Label: zoharum (@)
Zoharum releases the new album of Rapoon, well known moniker of Robin Storney, created after his influencing experience with Zoviet France. Properly speaking, this album is a reissue because it was released as a limited CDR edition and now is remastered and reworked and seven minutes longer, so the "redux" of the title is a joke?
"sunshine in the parlour" opens this album with a piano line while "Days like rain" is a more regular, if this term means something for one of the innovators of this genre, ambient track familiar to everyone who like this artist's work. "Lost caress" is a quiet atmospheric track. "Dust rattle" is a lesson on how a bunch of small noises could be cinematic. "The outside shadow" is a lied for piano without voice. "We walked in diamonds" is movement for violin loop. "Breath of ages" is perhaps the more reminiscent track of the author's past while "a clock in every room" is a ritual ambient exercise of style. "The declining of lace" is a quiet soundscape for resonances while "Snow legend" is a soundscape made out of voices and small noise. "Pig vampires" continues the use of small violin samples when "a pale blue door" is almost religious in his evocative soundscapes and "she never came" close this album with a piano lines as the opening track.
Honestly speaking, Robin Storney continues his musical journey under his usual influences, inspiration and musical style but the quality of his work is really remarkable and enjoyable for all his fans. One of the masters of this genre. Unrankable.

Richard Francis & Bruce Russell : Garage Music

 Posted by Arnaldo Pontis (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 04 2012
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Artist: Richard Francis & Bruce Russell (@)
Title: Garage Music
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Alone at Last (@)
Distributor: Alone at Last
Rated: *****
The independent russian label 'Alone at Last' despite its name certainly does not leave us alone. This label announced his birth until march of this year and has already released three excellent works simultaneously. One of these discs are the "Celtichants" by Maurizio Bianchi. I have already talked about here on Chain DLK.
And I also said about the painstaking care with which, our friend Dimitry (the eclectic producer of Alone At Last) realizes his records. A treatment that makes all limited edition copies as little gems contained into a package similar to an origami paper, with color and graphics intriguing and different.

The content of this review is one of this origami work, produced by a duo of great New-Zealand's noise- musicians. One of them is certainly more well known also here in Italy, a country from which I write. It is the volcanic Bruce Russell. And i hope most of you remember him thanks to its "free-noise manifesto".
Bruce is also the musician who has created (with Michael Morley) a very important band like the DEAD C (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_C). The Dead C is considered by many people to be a real cult formation that invented the 'New Zealand-Noise'.
Bruce Russell in the eighties, also founded an independent label named 'XpressWay Records' (the one that produced works of other noise artists such as Dadamah, Pin Group and Terminals) and after XpressWay experience Bruce created also another label, the Corpus Hermeticum, which published the works of his most recent project "A Handful Of Dust" (with the violinist Alastair Galbraith). For all of those reasons I think Bruce Russel is certainly a big name in the noise musical scene.

The other musician who played with Bruce in this "Garage Music" is Richard Francis. (http://www.richardfrancis.net.nz/ )
I don't know Richard before this work, but i've found many materials on the web and about it. And i think it is another interesting musician with different important works and many collaborations between New Zealand and Japan, also thanks to his project called Eso Steel. And here, into this work with Bruce, Richard proves certainly lives up to comparisons with the another great noise-designer.

We come finally to talk about this record of our two "noisers". It is a disc which contains 3 short tracks about 5 minutes each entitled at the same mode: Garage 1, 2 and 3. And contain also two beautiful and long suites of sound, of 13 and 17 minutes.
The resulting product is a big example of industrial minimalism and noise ambient based on drones, with analog sounds, guitars and other synthesis music. But I want to tell about this work not only for the beautiful substance of his sound but also for the very particular form in which it was created and registered.

The two musicians have in fact cooperated at a distance. Initially only by exchanging mail, one with each other, between 2007 and 2009. In this way recorded all traces of guitar, played by Bruce, and synthesizers and computers, manipulated by Richard and finally assembly into these 3 short tracks i talk before, with the same title "Garage" . But also the two long suites are the result of a different and strange mix of live recordings in part sincronous and part a-sincronous.

One of those two long suites is titled "Undead" and is a strange marriage between two different recordings of a solo-set performed by authors. The gigs are recorded separately but are performed on the same day.
The resulting fusion is really intense and highly processed.
This long track is titled "Undead" and is certainly the best piece of the whole work. A carpet of sound industrial smoke and whirring motors that rotate and beat synchronously in-phase or anti-phase. Also in this track sound manipulation and real-time computer and synthesizers owned by Richard and cords and ribbons clavioline played by Bruce, create a dough environmental dense and liquid from which it emerges hypnotic listening to fatigue. Really a great job.

For me Undead is very beautiful, alienating and also personally upsetting for the kind of ambient noise-that in some instances is created. With drones sounds and cyclic sinusoidal rhythms. All of these drones going to overlap, defeating and counter-beating, to meet at the end, even if quite by chance, on the same rhythmic pulse.

The fifth and last track of this album, also long, is titled simply "Live" and was recording during a live real-time concert. This concert happens in February 2009 and in the same place as other live tracks. And finally he sees, for the first time in this work, the two musicians play together your noise and industrial music. Live is a great final noise gig for all of us. To leave us "Not alone at last..!"

I close here my review. But I will tell you that, even if our Bruce and Richard are surely accustomed to frequent the lands and seas far away from our Europe, as I listened to their record I imagined the ideal backdrop to their live set with sounds of this type.
I hope these two noise-surfers will forgive me if I don't imagine them lying on the sands under their New-Zealand's sun but I see them play their industrial musics in a nocturnal gig set, amid the ruins of a factory and near the cold seas of north Europe. I imagine also, behind them and their musics, only the dark blue color of sky and the grey of clouds moving slowly over the Finns seawaves.
Jun 03 2012
cover
Artist: Richard Pinhas & Merzbow (@)
Title: Rhizome
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Another release by Cuneiform landed on my deck with a certain delay is this astonishing collaboration by French trail-blazing guitarist Richard Pinhas and Japanese noisy sorcerer Merzbow. I already appreciated their sonic mongrel on the occasion of the issue of Keio Line, which occurred four years ago. The amalgamation between these the sonic elements sounds even more disorienting than its predecessor as there are many moments of the listening experience where it's quite difficult to discriminate between laptop and guitar, due to wise DSP by Merzbow who recorded in real time some harmonics by Richard while flooding sonic space by ceaseless billows of hisses, frizzling pulses, hypnotic fibrillation, wobbles, screeches and binaural beats interbreeding with performative technique by Pinhas, based on an overlayered and heavy orchestration of guitar loops, even if in some moments of the performance it seems exploring those reverb-driven primitive forms, which are going to be appreciated by Pink Floyd or Fripp's fans. In order to have a visualization of their sound, you could get the inspiration by its nice cover artwork, whereas a gentle geisha girl looks like threatened by a demonic freak of a piggy bear, arguably a metaphorical translation of the seemingly dissonant siege of harmony by noise, but I assigned different parts to playing elements while listening to their aural soundscapes: it seems to me that in the first moments of their performance (Rhizome comes as a recording of their live show at La Maison Francaise in Washington D.C. on 24th Septemeber 2010) Merzbow laser guns and other sonic weaponry have been set to remove any possible fastener or tier of the listener, which could thwart Pinhas'propulsion for listener's mental flights , and step by step they melt together in unison by emphasizing a sort of involving chorale. The listening experience has not weighed down with unuseful preciosities, as some tricks and the whirling assortment of sonic tricks make it everything but boring all over the four rhizomes and the additional one - the one I prefer -, which look like the highest level the gradual ascension their sound could reach. In spite of the delay, I think some copies are still available. They include a DVD, recorded live during the above-mentioned performance, a document which gives the possibility to have a visual approach to these surprising music minds.


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