Music Reviews



Håkon Stene: Etude Begone Badum

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 02 2013
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Artist: Håkon Stene (@)
Title: Etude Begone Badum
Format: CD
Label: Ahornfelder (@)
Rated: *****
In the wake of his ongoing Artistic Research Project "Ceci n'est pas un tambour - developing the role of the multidisciplinary performer", where he endorses the obsolescence of traditional percussive techniques by advocating the development of a sort of "post-percussive" practice where any sound producing object may be played in any imaginable manner, "Etude Begone Badum", the longest of a couple of concomitant releases on Ahornfelder from skittish and inventive Norwegian percussionist Hakon Stene, is going to delight hungry eardrums and brains of growing audience of so-called New Music by three impressive tests of his sonic approach on "scores" of some contemporary composers which he linked by means of a mastic of atonal bowed strings, radio hiss, sine waves and tolls on the three short excerpts of the "Studies in Self-Imposed Tristesse" by countryman Lars Peter Haggan, who composed this introductory prefaces for a "restored" score for strings by controversial nationalist composer Geir Tveitt after the attempt of recovering his works that a house fire in 1970 almost totally destroyed. The first oblong suite for two table-top guitars "Black Horizon" has been performed together with his author Marko Ciciliani, where an unpredictable and seemingly illogical sequence of misshapen chords, slides, rubs, out of tune strokes, attacks and puncturing sonic inoculations and radiophonic vocal interferences could let you imagine an attempt of performing a minuet by mechanical Qing puppets in aspic, the underwater concerto of a music box from the bottom of a pond or maybe a dream without numbers. The "presence" of Alvin Lucier in this release hasn't been limited to the following recording "Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra" - a notorious piece for triangle, which got inflected in a very strange way by means of orotund room reverb -, as the location for the recording of Michael Pisaro's "Ricefall", whose score focused on the edited and juxtaposed sound which comes from rice grains falling on different surfaces (you won't believe what kind of flooding storms a handful of rice can generate...!), was the Tomba Emmanuelle in Oslo, which hosted one of the best recording of the above-mentioned masterpiece for triangle by Lucier himself.

LOOPer: ματτer

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 02 2013
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Artist: LOOPer
Title: ματτer
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
I cannot but reaffirm that the recent batch of vinyls from the appreciated Polish label Monotype hold many interesting avantgarde music and sonic stuff, including the fourth collaborative release from LOOPer, a very interesting project from the whimsical Greek cellist Nikos Veliotis, the protean Sweidish saxophone player Martin Kuchen, who modulated a pocket radio on this album in addition to his instruments, and the brilliant Norwergian improviser and percussionist Ingar Zach. They seem to dig the ground of the narrow stripe between silence and noise since the initial "Slow", where a very low overstretched frequency, which sometimes got thickened by a slight distortion, sets a mesmerizing tone where the suffocated tapping by Ingar and the sawing sound let the listener imagine about the tuning of a mysterious electric generator. Their sonic strategy becomes clearer on the following "In Flamen", where stiffed strictures on strings and air ducts of saxophone silence the claustrophobic drone which opens the track before the metronomic muffled steps and the tape hiss asymptotically tends to total silence. Whereas the misty cloud that LOOPer generated seems to encumber an high-speed train and the transmission of an electric signal on "Alignement", the only moment when they emerged out of the silent and silencing blanket occurs on the final "Our Meal" where clicking percussions, air embolism within sax, glasses under imaginary planing mills and other unknown sonic sources gradually overheat the sonic sphere by means of a startling crescendo. This record often requires attention to details, particularly when these musicians keep instruments under vacuum-seat, but the way they kneads sound has something to share with the impalbable matter of dreams.
Nov 25 2013
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Artist: Gabriel Saloman (@)
Title: Soldier's Requiem
Format: 12"
Label: Miasmah (@)
Rated: *****
One of the wings of D.Yellow Swans (where the meaning of that "D" constantly changed...del, die, deterioration, disk, damaged, demonic, dove, drownerd, dusk and so on), Vancouver-based musician Gabriel Saloman shuffle the cards of his previous self-signed release "Adhere" by giving prominence to instruments, changing the function of electronics in his soup and embroidering a sort of narrative structure to his sonic weaves, where one of the most interesting aspect is the handover of different evoked emotional states by intriguing sonic dynamics. It sound clear since "Mine Field", the first long stage of this "Soldier's Requiem", where the initial vaguely enchanted piano, which lets listener imagine the temporary toughening relief after some pitched battle before that subdued melody and the delicate electronic wavelets got stuck on lower frequencies which seems to dry the tonal ocean out. When the water becomes shallower and shallower, an abstract awareness of tragedy, diquietude and solitude seems to increase over a peeping drone, which fills the sonic sphere before fading out and let the melodic piano resound again, but its initial enchantment got broken as if it has been fatally impaired. The piano misfires and cannot evoke that vague idyll, which transmutes into a sort of sinisterly premonitory tolling and fells silent on the following "Marching Time", where the percussive march and its clunky and burdensome advance absorbs the aphonic noise of machine-gun fires. The battle could have deleted any human memory in the soldier, but the rain and the retake of solitary rueful march, which got evoked by field recordings and a low-key sad guitar of "Boots On Ground", instist on that dichotomy before the unexpected attack from a seemingly dead enemy - the listener will decide if this enemy, which revives on the percussive reprise, rises from some forgotten frontline or from within the anti-heroic soldier -. The funereal snigger of fate, which resounds from tthe sinister strings of the final "Could Haunt", discloses the destined content of the war chest.

Strike: Wood, Wire & Sparks

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 21 2013
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Artist: Strike
Title: Wood, Wire & Sparks
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
The first minutes of this record will let listeners think this funny trio of Australian musicians - the talented improviser, instrument builder and conceptualist Jon Rose on violins and double bass players Clayton Thomas and Mike Majkowski - were mimicking carpenters or sharpener during the live recording of "Wood, Wire & Sparks" at Densities Festival 2010, the performance which gave the name to their first album. Sonic sawdust and bizarre ways of tuning precede the first tonal burrs, which sound like scraps of a proper manufacturing process of a basin, where the first melodic sediments and further levelling, planing and rubbing gradually lead listeners to a sense of harmonic fulfillment before they clear the table by clumping all sonic recipes in the end. The title of that recording could be considered a sort of programmatic manifesto to describe the peculiarities of their wooden, wired and sparkling sound, which macadamize the second live recording on the flipside where they sum their keen and freaky approach to strings up by tonal stunts, almost theatrical makeup and imaginative sonic satyriasis, which achieves wind-ups when they render a reaction from the instruments they subjected to torture ("Revenge Of The Instrument"), the consistently ruthlessness tally of natural disasters ("Tsunami Scoreboard") or wryly face the possible othodoxy of listeners ("Gentrify This") by fudging canonical formal structure on the final "Song". Action-packed stuff for world-weary eardrums.

Airchamber3: Peripheral

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 19 2013
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Artist: Airchamber3 (@)
Title: Peripheral
Format: CD
Label: frattonove (@)
Rated: *****
Some days ago I was listening Offthesky's "We Like Ambient" selection for the appreciated British ambient label Hibernate and one of the track which really struck me - "Creek Of A Church Door, Wedding Celebration" - came from a mostly Italian ensemble of four sound artists - former Chain DLK collaborator Andrea Ferraris, Matteo Uggeri, Andrea Serrapiglio and Japanese musician Mujika Easel - and I got surprised to find in the bunch of promotional stuff I recently received the brand new release by Airchamber3, an interesting collaborative project we've already spoken about in the past, which involves a part of the above-mentioned group (and enclose some of the stylistical traits of that track), namely Andrea "Ics" Ferraris (guitar, bass, laptop, effects, drums), Andrea Serrapiglio (cello, laptop, iPad, drums, vocal and Casio sk-1) and his brother Luca (alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, wind controller, synths, drums, theremin and MaTiLda effects). Even if they kept their sound on a high level of experimentation, the main difference between "Peripheral" and their past works is the wider stylistical range they explored, which could result from the involvement of a number of collaborators such as voice artist Barbara De Dominicis aka Anti-Gone whom we recently encountered on Enrico Coniglio's collaborative project My Home, Sinking and here on the intensely emotional and gloomy "A body is a map of bruises", where her beutiful vocals could vaguely remind Beth Gibbons' modulations, multi-instrumentalist Vincenzo Vasi (part of Vinicio Capossela's big band), who borrows his mephistophelian voice on "Recollecting Pieces Of Tresured Memories", a "song" which features Gianmaria Aprile and Luca Sigurta' from Ferraris' band Luminance Ratio together with Luca Mauri on guitars. This enlarged and enhanced line-up adds unpredictable folds to the abstract textures and the sudden mystical bursts of ancestral heat, which could easily belong to the soundtrack of a non-existent movie, according to the contemporary customs of a relevant part of abstract/experimental ensembles, whose sonic thickness often mirrors seemingly contrasting nuances from the opening beastly death raffles of "inhale/exhale" and the following "Funeral March For A Brain Cell", whose decease could have been caused by toxic laughing gas where wheezing sounds like a self-scornful laugh to the final mesmeric fade-out and the hidden ending 'In The Corner Of My Eye Peripheral Vision', where the contrast invades semantic fields as well. Such a (peri)feral equivocalness is maybe the secret mysteriously charming element of "Peripheral".


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