Music Reviews

Coen Oscar Polack & Herman Wilken: Fathomless

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 09 2014
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Artist: Coen Oscar Polack & Herman Wilken
Title: Fathomless
Format: 12"
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from this artists is inspired by two existent places: the Barents Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, and the Sundarbans, a place in India known for his colored fauna. So I suppose that they aim to evoke the sensations offered by this particular landscapes and I must say that they realize it.
The album has one track on every side: 'Barents Sea', the A side, starts quietly with small noises and a glacial drone slowly portraits a glacial landscape and, decaying, is substituted by the juxtaposition of a bright drone and some sparse crackles until a new and louder glacial drone erases all and the tune ends gently.
'Sundarbans', the B side, starts with a sort of field recordings of leafs moved by the wind and a bright drone slowly changing until birds's recording introduces the listener into an oasis of colors and peace that lasts until a buzz starts a quieter part that lasts until a bright drone starts and, with a quieter interlude, drives the listener to the end of the track slowly changing.
This two long tracks are an uneasy listening but charming as they reveal a form conceived for the portrait of landscape in an evocative way. Recommended.

Death In June: Lives At The Edge of the World

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 05 2014
Artist: Death In June
Title: Lives At The Edge of the World
Format: DVD
Label: Steelwork Maschine (@)
Rated: *****
I have been listening to Death In June for the better part of two decades, so I was quite interested to see this DVD. This DVD features three different performances recorded in Brest, Brittany, from December 2011, May 2005 and April 2002. The label boasts '45 Different songs and 81 different performances. Massive gallery of unseen photos + poster. Certainly the most complete collection of Death In June songs on one single release.' Now on to the music itself. I have to admit that visually Death In June is not terribly engaging. This is partly because the live performance is a duo of Douglas Pearce mainly on acoustic guitar and John Murphy on various percussion instruments. But the music is stripped down and raw, which gives it a kind of urgency not found on the studio albums or even the live album 'Something is Coming.' But the music is done very well and takes on quite a span. Unlike many performers who focus mainly on new material with a few crowd favorites thrown in, this covers much of DIJ's creative output, ranging from 1983's 'The Guilty Have No Pride' to 2010's 'Peaceful Snow.' I was surprised to find some of my favorites on this disc, with a breathlessly fast 'The Honour of Silence' and '13 Years of Carrion' (although along that same trajectory, I would have loved to hear a live version of 'God's Golden Sperm' or 'Torture by Roses'). For Boyd Rice fans, there is a rendition of 'Où Est Boyd Rice?' finishing off with an acoustic rendition of 'Total War' with Rice on vocals during the 2002 concert. I found that Pearce was a lot chattier in the 2005 concert than in the 2010 or 2002 performances, providing commentary on several of the songs, which was interesting (we find out the 'Hollows of Devotion' was inspired by a bathroom rendezvous with a priest in Heathrow Airport, for example ' I'll avoid spoiling the moment for you, but, hint, ' it may have something to do with the gay pride flag he brought out partway through). The 2002 concert cinematography could have been much better. It is clear that this was not professionally taped for posterity. Imagine that a friend held up a camera phone and videotaped the concert and then ran it through a sepia filter with some abrupt cuts. There you have it, but then again we didn't get this for the special effects. This is the shortest of the three concerts, but still demonstrates the continuity of the live experience. It seems that the 2002 concert is less essential than the 2005 and 2011 ones, but there are songs in this concert not found in the other two ('The Night of the Knives,' Smashed to Bits (In the Peace of the Night,' and the collaboration with Boyd Rice), so it still earns its keep on the DVD. Overall, this is 4 hours of DIJ video. If that doesn't sell you, then nothing will. This is pretty much a must for all DIJ fans.

Andrea Bolzoni and Daniele Frati: Dialvogue: Improvising Dialogues

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 05 2014
Artist: Andrea Bolzoni and Daniele Frati (@)
Title: Dialvogue: Improvising Dialogues
Format: CD
Label: Setola Di Maiale
Rated: *****
These two artists comprise two thirds of Swedish Mobilia, and I had previously reviewed their album "Knife, Fork and Spoon," so I had some idea of what these artists were capable of. The label describes them thus: 'A fresh duo, young and precise. Musicians active in many projects, here are grappling with radical improvisations that vary the point of focus, with attention to timbres and rhythmic relations.' This album is a testament to what you can accomplish with just two musicians. From the opening track, 'Reunion,' it is clear to tell that there will be a lot going on in each track. Overall, the music is sparse, but has a good amount of energy. Tracks like 'Disagreement' and 'Interstellar Dialogues' vacillate between sheer intensity and slowed down weird, spacey electronic loops. Other tracks, like 'Expressed Monologue' and 'Butterflies' are almost mellow, but keep the weird loops going. Still others, like 'Surgery Room 3 Blurry' keep a restrained pressure going ' not frantic like others, but suppressed'gradually letting loose, but only to an extent. Overall, this is a pretty good album of improvisation. With only a duo of guitar and drums, you might think that it would get dull and repetitive, but Bolzoni and Frati manage to keep things lively and interesting. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.

Jeff Kaiser and Phil Skaller: Endless Pie

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 05 2014
Artist: Jeff Kaiser and Phil Skaller
Title: Endless Pie
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: pfMENTUM (@)
This is a collaboration between Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, and electronics) and Phil Skaller (prepared piano). I was unfamiliar with their work, and the artwork looked pretty cheesy, so I didn't really expect a whole lot. And then I put in disc 1 (blueberry pie), pressed play, and was assaulted by 'Unchangeable Fundament,' a 13 minute opus of spastic improvisation and demented scat singing. It was amazing. But few can keep up that kind of intensity, and the next few tracks were not as engaging. 'People from the Machinations' was really minimal, and by the time it redeemed itself with more weird vocals, I had almost lost interest. But then 'Two Unknowns, The One Being' shows that they can still be minimal and engaging, with a lot of dissonance. This gets more interesting as it progresses, and reminded me a bit of Bob Ostertag's 'Attention Span.' And then we are on to two more standout tracks. 'Galileo Uses Propaganda' comes out of the gate fighting, with distorted screams over machine gun piano. This is noisy and awesome. 'Anticipated By Bacon' continues its crunchy, reeling ride, which also moves into rapid fire horn and piano. The rest of the disc continues with a decent mix of chill elements and speed. Moving on to disc 2 (cherry pie), we once again begin with my favorite kind of jazz ' crazy. 'The Puppet Does Not Have A Soul' is almost 15 minutes of crazy improv, noisy and chaotic with lots of feedback. Unfortunately, disc 2 is not nearly as engaging as disc 1, since it seems that this is where they decide to showcase their minimal side. For example, 'Behave Very Much Like After-Images' is really sparse and minimal. There is a lot of clicks and not a lot else. 'The Problem of Telescopic Vision' is almost like listening in on a recording of a warm up, with a few notes and some scratching that never really goes anywhere. 'As Some Relics' started off promising, with some scratching, bottles rattling, slow trumpet, and some piano string plucking which then moves into what sounds like a didgeridoo, but it's kind of all over the place and doesn't seem to have anything keeping it together. We finish off the disc with some noisy jazz. Perhaps the best analogy I could give is that if the blueberry disc were a solid, then the cherry disc would be a gas. It's almost like two very different albums in the same container, so this is a mixed bag. When I have pie, I like it to have some weight to it. Those whose tastes tend toward the minimalist may prefer the sugar-free diet pie. This album weighs in at around 109 minutes.

Radio Free Clear Light: Joyful Noise Vol. 2 - Nomina Nuda Tenemus

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 05 2014
Artist: Radio Free Clear Light
Title: Joyful Noise Vol. 2 - Nomina Nuda Tenemus
Format: CD
Label: Black Note (@)
Rated: *****
I had never heard of Radio Free Clear Light, but the press sheet compares them to Coil, so I was interested. That said, if you're going to compare yourself to one of the greatest bands to grace this planet, you need to bring your A game. The label describes it thus: 'Birthed from a night of intensive musical experimentation and invocation, Nomina Nuda Tenemus explores mystical fervor through burning viola and fascinating vocalization set in a matrix of transgressive electronic music touched by dark ambient, dub, dance, noise.' So far, so good. Putting it in the CD player, I was sold on the Coil comparison, at least for the first three tracks. 'Tertius Equi' and 'Adelmo's Window' would be at home among the Musick to Play in the Dark set, or perhaps Stolen and Contaminated Songs. 'Brunellus' was reminiscent of The Angelic Conversation. But then the comparison doesn't quite hold up. As we move into 'Penitenziagite' we have Middle Eastern-tinged female vocals over percussion and a repetitive bass line. This later turns to male and female groans punctuating the music, followed by weird babbling which turns to a violin line over calm female vocals. If this sounds like more than one song, it felt that way, and at over 10 minutes seemed to go on longer than it needed to. 'The Seven Trumpets' brings us back into Coil-land along the lines of Stolen and Contaminated Songs again. 'Salva Me Ab Ore Leonis' puts their own stamp on things with a nice mix of chaotic noises juxtaposed with peaceful drone and pulsating repetition with female vocals added more for atmosphere than content. 'De Te Fabula Narratur' seems to be channeling Love's Secret Domain with a nice heavy beat. The last three tracks of the disc throw down some nice atmosphere with some beats thrown in for good measure. The verdict? This was pretty nice overall and hung together well. Although the Coil comparison is legit, I think that this stands well on its own without the comparison. With the exception of 'Penitenziagite,' this was pretty enjoyable. I also get the sense that they would put on a great show. This album weighs in at around 73 minutes.

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