Music Reviews

Tri-Cornered Tent Show: Welcome to Psychoville, Population 4

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 08 2015
Artist: Tri-Cornered Tent Show (@)
Title: Welcome to Psychoville, Population 4
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Rated: *****
Tri-Cornered Tent Show is Philip Everett - electric lapharp, clarinet; Ray Schaeffer - electric basses; Anthony Flores - drums; and most recent member - Valentina O. (O. for Osinski) -vocals and FX. On this album they call themselves "Daliesque Cabaret involving Appalachian-style Murder Ballads filtered thru and reflecting on the many levels and degrees of Musical Improvisation in the 20th Century." Well, here it is well into the 21st century, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech is long gone, and some groups are still doing what Captain Beefheart was doing (sort of) 45 years ago. Not that
there's anything wrong with that. So what is this really, anyway? Yes, the content (lyrically) is somewhat based on Appalachian murder ballads, but there is plenty of idiosyncratic embellishment courtesy of Miss O., so this isn't at all like hillbillies singin' on the tragedy of the ter-bull thing that happened to pur Daisy Mae. This is grade A bona-fide avant-garde with a cap'tal A, mon frere, and as such may not be wholley appealin' to the general masses. Lots of improvisational free jazz (is there any other kind?), as well as blues-oriented psychedelic weirdness. To some degree, this is reminiscent of the less accessible works of Carla Bley and Annette Peacock, Cathy Berberian and Diamanda Galas, but even further out. Beefheart fer sure, and others of their kind, but much more. Without Valentina this might just be another
(likely ignored) avant-garde outfit, but she brings plenty to the table with her versatile, multifaceted and powerful vocals. Then again, since she's also performed coast to coast in both San Francisco and New York City Opera companies, I suppose she should. The 8 tracks on this album are a carnival of madness, a freak show phantasmagoria, a circus of controlled chaos, an electro-acoustic alien funhouse. It's not easy to take in one sitting, but it managed to maintain my interest. There are
places where it's almost accessible, just slightly left of normal, but eventually will always veer off into strangeland. The ensemble works well together to achieve their off-kilter vision with nice interplay between all participants. Still, you have to be prepared for their bizarro intensity. Zappa would have dug it if he was still around. I do too, albeit in small doses.

Death Shanties: Crabs

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 05 2015
Artist: Death Shanties (@)
Title: Crabs
Format: 12"
Label: Bomb Shop
Rated: *****
I remember Alex Neilson's name as well as his "encroaching" sticks on "Camber Sands Sunday", one of the countless live record by Stelring Richard Smith's Jandek, while I've never heard before the names of Sybren Renema (alto and baritone sax) and Lucy Stein, whose painted projections play an important role during live sessions and embellishes the cover artwork of the debut album by Death Shanties by means of food residues, images whose immediacy could surmise cave painting, and her own hair. Some people who saw them playing on live stage report really incendiary free-jazz sessions and besides this aspect, this debut dazzles in its originality for a bizarre melting pot of free-jazz and 6oies psychedelic fire music with references to sea shanties (songs like "The Life Of A Wave" could render a pirate ship in the middle of sea-storm), legendary standards (it's almost heart-rending the reversed tribute to legendary New Orleans drummer Baby Dodds on "Baby Dodds Is Dead" where Neilson seems to emulate some of his unforgettable drum improvisations), Medieval folk music, field hollers and work songs ("Come Sunday", "Stumps") that reaches their acme on the lovely final "O! Where Is Saint George". Crabs manage to catch listeners in their pincer by a vibrant nd somehow original (in the field of free-jazz) style that they wisely described as "mixed media balls-to-the-wall free-jazz" which deserves some attention.

Thomas Köner : La Barca - complete edition

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 04 2015
Artist: Thomas Köner
Title: La Barca - complete edition
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
This must-listen release for all ambient lovers directly comes from German media artist Thomas Koner, who decided to reissue a complete edition of "La Barca" whose first edition in 2009 got sold out. Beyond the audio tracks of the first edition, where your mind will be placidly brought over the twelve places (Tokyo, Nice, Cairo, Rome, Manhattan, Damascus, Paris, Spitsbergen, Jerusalem, Venice, Montenegro, Barcelona which got identified by geographical coordinates on the original version) by means of a cinematic dream-like amalgamations of field recordings, fluctuating harmonies, static sounds, silence and other aural hints, this FLAC digital version includes the five bonus tracks of the extended double LP and five previously unreleased tracks as well as a video of the visuals of the Tokyo part that he originally presented at the Nam June Paik Award 2012 exhibition at Art Museum in Bochum, Germany. Even if the title of this release could let some Italian or Spanish readers think about a reference to the hallucinogenic psychonavigation that Thomas' sonic art could inspire as it means "the boat" in both languages, according to his own words "La Barca" refers to "the solar barque, or sun boat, which passes through the realms of the underworld (Duat according to Egyptian mythology) each night to reappear in the east every morning" even if he explains that he experienced a sort of "feeling of displacement" when he describes the above-mentioned Tokyo part ("It appeared to me as if the railway car moved like a slow boat, and the announcements at the stations sounded like invocations. I realized: 'In a barque she sails across the high lands of the past. The barque heads shimmer and glow at stern and bow, and that lights her unseeable passage. She calls to the spirits of this hour, and that is how we come to even hear her voice.'"), so that this sonic cartography that Thomas collected while globetrotting in a couple of years could inspire mental journeys where the etheric body of the listener stroll down those places without being seen.

Edvard Graham Lewis: All Under

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 30 2014
Artist: Edvard Graham Lewis
Title: All Under
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Even though the two concomitant albums by Wire bassist Edvard Graham Lewis got released in summer by Editions Mego, European winter or colder temperatures sound the best environmental setting in order to appreciate them and particularly "All Under", the most experimental one. The two long-lasting title-tracks, which have been composed as a score for the meaningful namesake short-film by Gunilla Leander, are as immersive as that movie where six naked bodies (4 men and 2 women) fight underwater: the most astonishing aspect of both "All Under (Film Score)" and "All Under (Installation Loop)" is the fact that he just winged the entrancing gurgles of the first and the glacial out-of-time drone and the icy sonic transmissions of the latter, which let you surmise an indepth panache and an almost maniacal research on sounds, in real time by means of a sampler and FX processing. While the following "The Eel Wheeled", where the grime voice by Lewis spout one of his obscure Florida-inspired spy story that could resemble radiophonic tales, dusts a certain industrial aesthetics off, the final 18-minutes lasting "No Show Godot" reprises the cinematic hook of "All Under" as it was composed as the delusional soundtrack for an imaginary sci-fi movie that got suggested by the typical noise of the film rolling inside old projectors, which feeds the entrancing ambient introduction of the track before it get blunter and blunter till wisely altered rhythmical patterns unexpectedly rise.

Opjk_3: Algebrica

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 27 2014
Artist: Opjk_3
Title: Algebrica
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Another amazing release that the excellent Portuguese hyperproductive label Creative Sources recently sent to us comes from Opjk_3, a brilliant Italian electroacoustic threesome of musicians whose musical background is quite different: some listeners could have already meet the name of vocalist Andrea Reali in the notes of a record by the under-rated project I/O, a stylistical meatloaf where tinges of Can, while the first and only time I've seen the ones of Fabio Martini (clarinet, electronics) and Danilo Sala (drums, percussions, objects) was on a release from the huge catalogue of Leo Feigin's improv jazz label Leo Records. In spite of some edgy moments such as "PHW", "Bad Manners" or the weirdly sad final "Lamar", most of tracks churn an awesome whirlgig of computational cave-in over tonal scribbles on clarinet, vocals that sounds like coming from mythical creatures of Celtic folklore, rhythmical overlaps and limping melodic struts that merrily tickle listener's imagination: you could therefore imagine they managed to render the imitation of abird by a sleeping chimp on "Dada", the lonely walk of a misunderstood childlike pixie on the same-named track, the adventures of a saltpetre inside a water filtering system on "Monomorph" or the resounding nightmare of a young mathematician on the title-track "Algebrica". Opjk_3's one is very weirdy declension of free-jazz spotted improvisation.

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