Music Reviews

Dave Phillips: Homo Animalis

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 07 2014
Artist: Dave Phillips (@)
Title: Homo Animalis
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Schmpfluch Associates
Rated: *****
The first humanimal that peeked out from the listening of the very first moments of this release by Zurich-based artist Dave Phillips, former founding member of brutal grindcore project Fear Of God who gained a certain recognition by lovers of noisy stuff with some meaningful connections by means of a series of underground and strictly limited releases that many people like to label as "extreme", is Jack Arnold's amphibious Creature from Black Lagoon and while keeping on listening, I wondered how Dave managed to render what a person could possibly feel while being eaten by some hungry zombies. The devilish voice which repeats the title of "The Less I Know" introduces the sarcasm behind "Homo Animalis" and the explicated "humanimalism theory" as well as the aesthaetics of this wise sound artist, which seems to explore human degradation or revival of ferocious instincts (it depends from personal viewpoint) in the guise of a probe for visceral detection: according to the interesting explanation which got attached to the release, the first one of Rudolf's resurrected Schimpfluch, "humanimal rather a process of de-antropo-centralisation, a connectivity of senses, instincts, emotions, ideas and thoughts that are as personal and subjective as much as they are understood as a part of a larger whole" where "sound is humanimals preferred form of communication" and a way "to activate primordial shared emotions otherwise stifled by civilised experience and restricted by social consensus" that "taps into the essence of existence itself". Other disquieting images as well as an involving thrill can arise to listener's consciousness while keeping on listening: for instance, the sound of slammed doors and the whole sonic atmosphere of "Humanimal B" could let you imagine you've been closed into the same labyrinth where the mythological Athenian hero Theseus met and supposedly killed the Minotaur - with a difference: you are with no Ariadne's ball of wool and no dagger at all! -; the dreadful synth-crescendo of "Rape Culture" could sound like the most excruciating physical torment by Jigsaw Killer; the story told by the sounds of "Novaturient" could look like a POV snuff movie directed by a serial killer whose criminal alter-ego got awoken by the sound of a subway station and the one that got evoked by "Kelelawar B" sounds like the nightmares by a repentant vampire, where "So...What?" could let you think about a possible collages of Japanese or Chinese domestic abuses and the cinematic "Truth Is Invented By Liars" as a possible contemporary revival of the myth of Premetheus (simply genial the insertion of some dialogues taken from "Bad Boy Bubby", one of the first which used binaural microphones to record dialogues). In spite of its amazing amalgam of post-industrial hooks and horror-movie-like sonorities - not so different from some stuff that recently came from Cold Spring I spoke about on this 'zine), the aim of the game is not psyching listeners out as humanimals sound more noble by birth and in spirit as you can guess: "humanimal would like to encourage the global north to "change the dream of the modern world", from one of accumulation and consumption to one that honours and sustains life. humanimal knows there is enough food for every being on this planet if distributed properly. It encourages into paths and processes of one's alimentary choices and habits and a sensible and prudent appliance of these insights"... Humanimals maybe is aware that "nature doesn't need us".

Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa : Untitled

 Posted by Mike Oxman   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 06 2014
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Artist: Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa
Title: Untitled
Format: Tape
Label: Midira Records (@)
Distributor: Midira Records
The sounds on the recently released collaboration between Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa were recorded in Denmark and France in the winter of 2012. The limited edition cassette release (by Germany's Midira Records) of these sessions highlights an intriguing side of Aidan Baker's ever-expanding sonic pallet.

The first track, 17.02.2012 DE, begins with ethereal ambiance of an ECM release, featuring quiet cymbal swells, and droning violin. The piece seems poised for release but dies away as the drums recede amidst a sea of peaceful atmosphere. Then it slowly and subtle revives into a subdued groove, supported by a monotone cello-like grind ' although there is no cello on the release so the sound is likely made by one of the three guitars ' and slowly escalating tom-tom pattern.

The second track, 25.02.2012 FR, is again subdued but somewhat more forceful, like the ambient movement of a post-rock suite. Again, a cello grinds out an eerie drone as viola lines sway in and out of the mix. Midway through the piece, a distorted tape loop enters before Baker takes centre stage with well-crafted guitar noise that wafts in and out of the mix.

The soundscapes conjured by Baker and the A-Sun Amissa group hint that since relocating to Europe, Baker has expanded his range to absorb the continental avant-garde, while maintaining the uncompromising spirit of his heavier work with Nadja.

Tomas Korber: Musik für ein Feld

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 05 2014
Artist: Tomas Korber (@)
Title: Musik für ein Feld
Format: CD
Label: Cubus (@)
Rated: *****
The field that could came to your mind while listening the first nine of nine movements of this amazing suite that Swiss composer and improvisational performer Tomas Korber wrote and performed with Konus Quartett, a fourtet of saxophones by Christian Kobi (tenor and soprano saxophone), Fabio Oehrli (soprano saxophone), Jonas Tschanz (alto and soprano saxophone), Stefan Rolli (baritone saxophone), whose tonal breath got wisely processed by Korber himseld, is the one of sci-fi movies like Alien, where the last survivor of a flight crew finally understands there could be some technical problems by low levels of oxygen in the loungy disco-like cabin and chances upon of corpses of his/her collegues before meeting some alien monster, which miraculously grew from leftovers of overbaked lasagna whose stuffing includes beans from outer space. Jokes aside, the one track suite with many altenrations of sounds (it's not so easy to distinguish wind instruments and processed parts and background noise as Korber sometimes turns the tails of tonal frequencies from Konus Quartett into pure sinewaves and viceversa) by these guys is really amazing and their invitation to test "Musik fur ein Feld" in different ways (different rooms and/or palyback systems with different levels and types of background noise) could result into surprising listening experiences where sonic entities like those saxophone-driven geysers which seem to gather paper around 20 minutes, the metallic puckering between minutes 43 and 44, the progressive saturations of single breath in many moments of the recording, the deforming overlapping with background noise and so on could trick and daze your mind.

Luc Ferrari - GOL / Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari: Tautologos III / Havresac

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 03 2014
Artist: Luc Ferrari - GOL / Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari
Title: Tautologos III / Havresac
Format: CD
Label: Éditions Piednu (@)
Distributor: metamkine
The third part of Tautologos (1969) was the conclusive moment of a creative process that Luc Ferrari, the co-founder of Groupes De Recherches Musicales as well as one of my favorite representative of that forerunning circle and maybe the less hard-shell of the forefathers of the so-called musique concrete compared to more elitarian opinions like the one by Pierre Boulez according to which all those who approached the genre cannot be philistine improvisors with any notions of composition or musical scoring, started in 1961. On its text score, Luc Ferrari just gave some performative instructions and explained the meaning of this process: the performers or the Tautologuers, as Luc wrote, may use their own instruments, contact or traditional microphones or any other object, which could be just amplified or transformed in a different way so that there is no real limitations to the number and the kind of instruments; each Tautologuer must choose an Action, whose length should be shorter than the silent moments, whose alternation is almost endless and manages to generate a proper loop according to a diffeent combination of seven features ("duree, registre, dynamique, caractere, timbre, evolution, vitesse), but each loop should not be like a "mechanical construction" so that each musician/Tautologuer had to focus on a sort of communicational instinct. According to Luc's own words: "C'est seulement cet etat de concentration-communication qui creera un climat ayant une signification, et qui illustrera le phenomene tautologique comme un phenomene issu de la vie ; et, tautologiquement, votre...'¦qu'il y ait un tel nombre d'elements tautologiques dans les domaines les plus divers et avec des moyens les plus varies, que s'ecroulent pour un moment les murs absurdes que la "civilisation" nous impose". This concept got perfectly interpreted by very special Tautologuers like Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari, former Luc's wife, who manages to evoke a wide range of emotional states by her own voice, and GOL, the electroacoustic trio by Jean-Marcel Busson (charango, Luxonic and Metacrakle), Frederic Rebotier (male voice saying that "da da da" you are going to hear, clarinet, metallic candy box and torn paper) and Ravi Shardja (electric mandolin, bass, transverse flute, sanza): the sudden appearance of occasional toytronic cymbals which surmise those cymbal-banging monkey toys and the general dynamics with many sonic entities which soulds like been coughed could let you imagine a journey inside those fun-fair haunted houses, but the alternation of sonic sketches is really psychotropic as well as in line with Luc's rules. They also included another amazing improvisation hat got titled "Havresac" (French foir "haversack", but also a reference to the city where it was recorded), where the role of electronics and resounding objects on the sonic set got somehow highlighted. An unmissable release for all those who love musique concrete, electroacoustic improvisation as well as for all those who are just neophytes of this creative wellspring.

Lean Left: Live at Area Sismica

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 01 2014
Artist: Lean Left
Title: Live at Area Sismica
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
I guess that if a seismologist listens this live recording (the second one on Unsounds catalogue after the one at Cafe' Oto, London) at Area Sismica, a nice place in Forli', Italy, where the noisy collision by The Ex former guitarist Terrie Ex and Andy Moor, the hectic drummer Paal Nilssen Love and the brilliant jazz composer Ken Vandermark, who played a baritone saxo, a tenor saxophone, a bass clarinet and a phone, held the final incendiary date of a very long tour on 22nd September 2012, the day when Ken celebrated his 48th birthday, he would include their opening tuning as possible earthquake precursors together with radon emission, variations of the ratio between the velocity of seismic primary and secondary waves, electro-magnetic variations, fits of pique by barking dogs and nervously croaking frogs! Four minutes of somewhat menacing tuning precede the moment when Lean Left begins to frack the grounds of free jazz on "Traitors Head", whose lava flow and lapilli placidly merge into "Moti", where you can almost envisage and smell the smoke from charred underbush, volcanic ashes and the slow fiery run of lava rivers which etorts the first clapping by lucky audience. The clapping sounds more enthusiastic at the end of the two following long-lasting eruptions that they conveniently named after two volcanoes, "Terpuk" - the moment when their technical skills reaches the acme - and "South Sister", whose churning explosions are so intense that a chilling break on "Cleft Segment" is almost a necessity before the final fury of "Gada Ale". Really incandescent live-session!

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