Music Reviews

Ghédalia Tazartès + Maya Dunietz: Schulevy Maker

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 25 2017
Artist: Ghédalia Tazartès + Maya Dunietz
Title: Schulevy Maker
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Holotype Editions
Experimental music at its quirkiest, this recording of Tazartes and Dunietz’s first live performance as a duo is energetic, theatrical, and packed with large doses of both light and shade. The two twenty-three minute parts with no internal labels have the sound quality of a studio recording.

With occasional rave piano noises and drum machine pattern cameos that sit somewhere between the IDM label and circus music at times, this is at times more structured and steadily grooved than you might expect. Both artists use their voices with passionate, mostly wordless grunts, guttural throat singing, meaningless (I think) operatic wails and some almost tongue-in-cheek ‘laaa’ noises, making those the dominant instrument throughout.

Rapidly panning processed white noise, strung-out low bass string notes, harmonica-like meanderings and occasional twinkling bell sounds abound. Threatening rumbles, mocking laughter and muted timpani rolls bring an almost pantomime flavour at parts. Particularly in the second part this settles into a darker, bluesier, sometimes almost ecclesiastical tone, though once you’ve got the image of Grandpa Simpson moaning into your head, it’s difficult to shake it. A big finale of sampled fanfares and radio noises pushes its uniqueness even further.

It’s refreshing to hear an experimental performance demonstrate such an ability to have fun without ever devolving into self-parody. Unashamedly “peculiar” (their word), it’s an attention-grabbing and conversation-starting bit of strong vocal arrangement that made me want to check out whether they would be performing live in my part of the world. (They did, but four years ago... whoops.)

Rasalasad, Featuring Von Magnet and Wildshores: Magnethism

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 25 2017
Artist: Rasalasad, Featuring Von Magnet and Wildshores (@)
Title: Magnethism
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
This is the second of two 3” discs that they had sent. I had heard of Von Magnet, but the other two were new to me. This is one 17 minute composition that combines spoken word with an interesting music track. A meandering drum beat that functions as just another sound, drones that stretch on forever, Male and female voices that you can hardly make out, even with headphones. The woman says “this” in a kind of cadence, while the man’s rich bass voice blends into the music. Eventually, the woman takes over, but it is still difficult to make out – something about transformation, values, the soul, and technology. It gets repeated over and over, but this is like listening to an overheard conversation – you can make out bits and pieces, but you can’t help feeling like the words were never meant for you. Overall, the track is pleasant and interesting, with a lot going on in it. Definitely worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 17 minutes.

Rasalasad vs Amantra: Thisturbia

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 25 2017
Artist: Rasalasad vs Amantra
Title: Thisturbia
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Rasalasad or Amantra, but I had reviewed several albums from Thisco and had enjoyed them, so I was interested to see what they had here. This is the first of two 3” discs that they had sent, with folded brown packaging and a stamped cover. The nice thing about 3” CDs, is you can get right into the music, so let’s go! “Rapid Eye” opens the disc with a splendid mixture of glacially moving synth drone mixed with electronic noise and static. The contrast works well together, and when the drone wins out, you feel like something is missing. “Awakening” keeps this feeling going, and reminds me of older Lycia. It’s not harsh, but there is an edge to it. “Peak” brings in a heavy, thudding bass beat that gives it a martial feel, like the soundtrack to the aftermath of a battle scene. “Error” closes the disc, and is a bit different with a simple keyboard line over noisy drone. It’s almost like listening to the closing credits of a film in a factory. Seems somewhat out of place with the rest of the album, but rather nice nonetheless. Overall this was a good taste of each of these bands, and makes me interested to hear more from each of them. This album weighs in at around 19 minutes.

Mei Zhiyong & Dave Phillips: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 24 2017
Artist: Mei Zhiyong & Dave Phillips (@)
Title: s/t
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
Dave Phillips is a sonic activist, composer, performer and researcher based in Zurich, Switzerland. Mei Zhiyong (or MeiZhiyong) is a Chinese artist now living in Changchun City, Jilin Province, China working in harsh noise, experimental music, independent film, photography, and field recording. Both of these artists have illustrious credentials in the field. dp has been a purveyor of radical sound since the mid 80's,
working solo since 1987, and has developed a unique sonic language typified by sharp compositional techniques and strong environmentalist connotations. A few of the projects he has been associated with include Fear of God, Ohne, Perverts in White Shirts, Rabid Dogs, Dead Peni, and Schimpfluch-Gruppe. According to the text on his website, "dp re/searches and ponders existences and behaviourisms humanimalistically.
Sound as communication in direct and primal form, a language, a tool of metaphysics, a conscience and a consciousness, opposing the omnipresent restriction and reduction of life and living. Sound communications that activate primordial shared emotions otherwise hidden under the debris of civilization, inviting rumination, encouraging intervention, endorsing catharsis, therapeutical stimulation is acknowledged. sonic activism, ritual protest music." Mei Zhiyong has releases going back to 2011, tours quite a bit and has this to say regarding noise (music): "exploring the nature of the way, the body is a tool, thought is a program. All the manic, quiet, extreme, abnormal have been preset by procedures and tools,noise is the carrier of breaking all the rules, only impaling nothingness will really make you get rid of the contradiction between voice and body, between body and mind." Pretty heady concepts that blow away the misconception that "all these guys want to do is take out their frustrations by making noise." There could be a degree of that involved but it certainly isn't their raison d'être.

This isn't the first collaboration between Phillips and Zhiyong; more like the third, as far as released recordings go. On this limited edition (300 copies) LP on the Slovakian Urbsounds Collective label the recording and composition is by Dave Phillips while all sounds are by Mei Zhiyong. Think on that a bit. Before I begin discussing what transpires on this recording, I must reiterate my sentiments on noise music. It is a genre that that has steadily declined in what I favor, and my tolerance for, and appreciation of it has significantly diminished. Where I once found a cacophony of sound stimulating and invigorating, perhaps even cathartic now and then, now I tend to find most of it annoying and irritating, leaving an acrid taste like handling a mildewed record. That said, I can still give you an idea what's going on here. There are no track names, just two sides - the A side clocking in at 15:45 and B side at 18:54. The A side begins with some manipulated vocal utterances by Mei Zhiyong morphing into a variety of electronic noise squalls. Throughout the recording(s) a variety of sonic environments are explored- hyper-electronic mutant animal farm, annoying air raid drone, field recording of ambient small crowd chatter, strange machineshop, bursts of static, alien factory, chaos at the broken videogame arcade, destruction of all relevant (and some irrelevant) equipment, raping circuitry, and more. Not all is hellacious; there are some passages of calm monotony. They don't last terribly long though. Considering that these recordings were culled from the duo's 2015 European tour, I have reason to believe they were collaged by Phillips as sort of a "greatest hits" of maximum intensity and velocity, sort of an audio documentary with multiple layers for maximum effect. You must realize that the source was improvised, even if the mix was a tad calculated. Noise enthusiasts might drive themselves a bit crazy trying
to figure this all out, but that only enhances the record's replay value as one wonders what the hell was going on at certain given points. This one is certainly not for noise novices as a deep regard for the discordant, jarring and explosive is required.

Krzysztof Penderecki: Kosmogonia

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 24 2017
Artist: Krzysztof Penderecki (@)
Title: Kosmogonia
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
The importance of a composer could be seen when it's able to expand the boundaries of contemporary music; even a label as Cold Spring, devoted to post industrial and similar genres, can publish the reissue of a release by Penderecki. He's however well know to be one of the most noisy and abstract composer of the post-war period so it's not an issue to see him close to a Merzbow's reissue while it's strange to see that one of his landmark release was never released in a digital format after his vinyl release more than forty years ago but this is indication of the arduous nature of his music.
The first track "Kosmogonia" is based on the alternation of noisy moments, mostly obtained by fast and loud musical lines, and quieter ones so it's something close to the eruption of a volcano and after an instrumental first part, the voices are most prominent element of the second ones with movement close to mass of drones obtained by an unorthodox use of the chorus. While most composers would use electronics to obtain subtle masses of sounds, "De Natura Sonoris II" uses violins to obtain slow and detailed drones and other instruments to interrupt them with unexpected grain of noise or rhythmical ellipsis. Even in the same musical context, "Anaklasis" is more oriented toward the percussive element obtained by the instruments and with short sound lines so it's sequences of small events generating a complex overall schema. "Fluorescences" closes this release juxtaposing the two elements of the pieces collected in this release: the long textures and the short sound elements so quiet and noisy moments are in a dialectic form in the search of an (in)possible synthesis.
It doesn't make any sense to recommend or not this release as its importance is so huge to be an essential listening to those who have a minimal familiarity with contemporary music; however, for his sound properties it could even be an introduction for fans of drone or industrial music to a world that is often seen as boring or outdated but has covered similar path to this genres with other vehicles. Essential.

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