Music Reviews



Hati & Z'EV: Collusion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2013
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Artist: Hati & Z'EV (@)
Title: Collusion
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratics (@)
Rated: *****
This third powwow by the revered behemoth of percussions and drums Z'EV and surprising duo of young Polish percussionists Rafal Iwanski & Rafal Kolacki, better known as Hati (named after the mythological wolf that chases the Moon according to Norse Gylfaginning?), sounds like the title "Collusion" seems to suggest for a couple of reasons: on one side, their skills perfectly matches and such a mutuality shines through the five acts of this recording, on the other side, their somewhat transcendent percussive textures and thick amalgam of harmonic auscultation evoke menacing harbingers and a deeply trance-inducing ritualism, so that their point of convergence doesn't lie only on vocational and technical aspects, but also conceptual or I'd rather say neural. It's just something they do together, as a male voice (Z'EV's one) stigmatizes before the performes start to play. Such a statement could sound a little bit self-referential, but the mesmerizing heights they climb by means of weaves of gongs, tolling hits, rubbing of membranes, grimly clashing cymbals, slightly ominous tom-tomming, spatialized plucks over the five parts of Collusion" titillate listener's imagination and wrap it by a sort of electrified cloud. Both Z'EV and Hati move deftly in the field of ritual trance music and its ancestral structures, even if their percussive journey, the gradual unfolding of hypnotical beats and contemplative undertows definitively sound like the outcome of possessed improvisational sessions whose absorbing progression could let you think about geometrical figures which asymptotically tend to a perfect circle.

King Gong: Voices

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2013
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Artist: King Gong (@)
Title: Voices
Format: 12"
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
Poncey exoticism has never attracted my attention, particularly when it's clear that the more or less noticeable insertion of etnhic elements get justified by no particular reason that an inappropriate titivation, but I cannot say the sonic researches by French sound-artist Laurent Jeanneau, one of the most activ contributor of Sublime Frequencies, which recently released a collection of sonic documents of unknown indigenous music from ethnic minority groups of Southern China, prolific producer of ethnographic field recordings and tireless wayfarer, belongs to that kind of sonic fetishism. On "Voices" as in Jeanneau's previous collages, the concept could be vaguely close to Freform's Audiotourism, but in spite of the computer aided editing which is not invasive at all, there's no particulr stylistical imprint and the process of coalescence between recorded voices, field recordings and textures of traditional (mainly percussive) instruments doesn't taint the authenticity of the source. It rather highlights the immersive listening experience that Laurent evokes. As you can easily imagine, "Voices" focuses on vocal excerpts he recorded in the southern regions of Yunnan and Guizhou, China, in Sapa, Northern Vietnam and phongsaly, Northern Laos, which are often embellished by means of intriguing instrumental twines: the overlapping of entrancing vocals on the initial "Baozoo Khen", the lopsided string striations on the absorbing "Sixian Miao Choir", the ritual scent and the odd howling of the speaking woman on "Cym Wu Khmu" are the most impressive moments of a record, which is going to steep listener's mind into the remote corners of the planet Laurent genuinely documented.

Giulio Aldinucci: Tarsia

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 17 2013
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Artist: Giulio Aldinucci (@)
Title: Tarsia
Format: CD
Label: Nomadic Kids Republic
Distributor: Experimedia
Rated: *****
In an interview with the website Fluid Radio (fluidradio.co.uk) Italian composer described the origins of the title Tarsia, his first release under his own name.

"The term Tarsia (or Intarsia) denotes an ancient technique of wood inlaying. The first examples of this practice date back to the XIV century and come from the Siena region. I have chosen this title because I consider this technique similar to the that of a lot of contemporary electro-acoustic music. To make these wood inlays they used rare and carefully selected natural elements, which were then treated, and sometimes individually coloured, and subsequently placed next to each other in order to create complex patterns, which is what many musicians within this field tend to do."

It seems like the terms 'field recordings', 'modern classical', and 'soundscapes' could be interchangeable, so often are they found in the same sentence. It seems like every time an artist lays a cello or a piano to tape, it is accompanied by handheld tape recordings, the sounds of rippling brooks, and the ringing of churchbells. It is hard to stand out in this saturated field, but Giulio Aldinucci achieves this rare balance, by creating whole compositions, that don't merely sound like 'classical lite' with some voicemail pasted on top.

The composer achieves this effect by carefully mixng and balancing the sounds, creating a delicate interplay that suggests technical mastery and a sensitive ear. Most of the sounds are synthetic in nature, overlaid with pristine soundscapes: crystal running rivers, dogs barking, snippets of conversation. It seems like a memory of wandering the Italian countryside. Aldinucci's music may have originated in a soundcard or a circuit board, but they beautifully complement the acoustic recordings with masterful mixing, making a cohesive whole, like the wooden boxes Tarsia is named after.

Once upon a time, a record like this would be merely considered 'new age' and left at that, mainly due to the soothing synth ambiance that makes up most of this record. However, with synthesizer opuses making a heavy comeback for the last 10 years or so, perhaps we are ready to consider these electronic instruments on their own terms. I would like to amend the newage tag with 'heavenly' or dare i even say it, 'beautiful'.


Giulio Aldinucci, and the Nomadic Kids Republic that released this, are ones to watch out for, seemingly creating reams of gorgeous modern classicism. Physical copies of Tarsia are long gone, but you can stream or download copies from the label's bandcamp site.

Lovely stuff! Recommended.

Charlemagne Palestine + Z'EV: Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2013
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Artist: Charlemagne Palestine + Z'EV (@)
Title: Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The very first moments of this interesting collaborative recording by two of the most interesting contemporary musicians with the penchant for extreme experimentation, the master of minimalism Charles Martin, commonly known as Charlemagne Palestine, and protean American percussionist and sound artist Stefan Joel Weisser aka Z'EV, resembled the Italian version of a notorious French nursery rhyme "Frere Jacques" (the English version is known as "Brother John" or "Are You Sleeping?"), which sings about a certain friar named Martin, who plays bells. Joking aside, this sonic document whose title "Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear" could vaguely summarize some "concrete" aspects of this musical performance. Its gestational times are almost mythological, as these renowned sound artists needed more than 20 years to channel their performative arts into a release: Charlemagne Palestine and Z'EV met in Amsterdam in the eighties, but they performed together just in 2007 (at Lem, Barcelona), but their first studio recording occurred in 2010 and it started after zoning out while seeing and listening to the carillon that Charles held in his studio in Brussels. After 3 days of recordings, this album is what they squeezed: highly hypnotical bells reel in sonic space while they twine on mesmerizing dull thuds, choking metallic hits, dazzling strokes, loosing acousmatic sounds Z'EV manages to squeeze. There are two avalable version of the release, but I warmly recommend the double CD one as you will find the complete recordings, both the collaborative versions (marked by a CZ, abbreviation of Charlemagne and Z'EV) and solo ones (marked by the initial letter of each performer). If solo performances sound unbelievably entrancing and magnetic, you can barely imagine how they could sound when they join respective flows...

The 49 Americans: We Know Nonsense

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 14 2013
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Artist: The 49 Americans
Title: We Know Nonsense
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
This funny release on Staubgold records moments of extemporaneous musical wit, which sound in the balance between plagiarism and parody, by an ensemble of musicians and non-musicians (but fully involved in music scene) which we won't call "a band, in the conventional sense", as suggested by one of his most known member, David Toop. In accordance with the references to the number of united stars/states in North America, we could consider The 49 Americans, a do-it-yourself supergroup joined together by Andrew "Giblet" Brenner, as a confederation of American musicians (including people like Lol Coxhill, Viv Albertine, Vivien Goldman, Steve Beresford, Max Eastley, Eddie Saunders, Bendle, Terry Day, Nag and Keith James)who don't really look for any kind of celebration or wax sculptures in spite of their amazing and amused activity and their clarion calls to meaningful non-sense and possibly missing 50th star (!) in the boiling British scene between late 70ies and early 80ies. They whipped stylistical rinds by a carefree attitude and a funny insouciance over their occasional appearances, so that you could imagine that they composed most of their songs (and their seemingly nonsense dandy/dadaist lyrics...) in total idleness and this pleasant reprint of their second full-length, previously released in 1982 by Choo Choo Train Records, which include 23 (it's not a mistake...they're really 23) bonus tracks from their first releases "Toop Young To Be Ideal" and "E Pluribus Unum", validate their bizarre eclecticism and the above-sketched attitude. A wholesome shake of references (I'm pretty sure you'll recognize many preceding and following musical acts while listening their somewhat lopsided pastiches and pastimes of doo-wop, swing, rock'n'roll, gospel, childplays, acapella, easy listening pop, jazz or whatever) has been combined to lyrical cinches, whose naif sublimation are really intriguing. Have a listen and these odd American fellows will manage to lift your mood up.


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