Music Reviews

Moon Wiring Club: Today's Bread, Tomorrow's Secrets

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 11 2013
Artist: Moon Wiring Club
Title: Today's Bread, Tomorrow's Secrets
Format: CD
Label: Gecophonic Audio Workshop
Distributor: A-musik
Rated: *****
In the misty moors of Northern England, lies the forgotten hamlet of Clinkskell. The trek to get there is one of the loneliest and least hospitable in all of the UK. No neighbors, no flashy attractions, Clinkskell and its inhabitants are remarkably removed from time and place. The people who live there are charmingly anachronistic: crinoline and cravats rub elbows with shirt-sleeves and psychedelic paisley patterns.

And its all in the mind of one Ian Hodgson, aka Moon Wiring Club. (Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn't).

On the header for the Blank Workshop (which acts as the chamber of commerce and welcome wagon for Clinkskell), MWC are described as 'Confusing English Electronic Music'. Elsewhere, Hodgson himself described his output as 'music for Edwardian computer-games'. Using the archaic technology of PS2 and a hand-me-down copy of MTV Music Maker, Hodgson meticulously constructs abstract concrete beat-collages, calling upon an extensive archive of mouldering Spoken Word/Children's/Work-out LPs, spun into a hallucinogenic cobweb of dream logic and refracted memories. Hodgson uses the vocal snippets like a voice over on some otherworldly nature documentary, pushing and pulling the ethereal tones and bouncy rhythms into bizarre auditory fairy tales, referencing this world, but not of it.

The irreality of Hodgson's crate-digging sampledelia goes right along with the ominous Art Deco album sleeves (which he also designs himelf). Vaguely sinister 2D depictions of Victorian women in hats, or cat creatures playing a fife. What, exactly, is going on? You must lose yrself in Hodgson's world, 8 self-released albums thus far, and an avalanche of mixes, magazines, fake advertisements, real advertisements, artificial television series, and perhaps real ones as well. Ian Hodgson is a world builder, pure and simple, and every time anyone on the Gelophonic Audio roster releases a record (blessedly frequent, lately), Clinkskell emerges from the mist, like Brigadoon.

'Today's Bread, Tomorrow's Secrets' is remarkably listenable, given how abstract and confusing it sounds, in print. Hodgson's beats are tight and twitchy, in a way that should appeal to fans of the recent juke/footwork/trap school, and the synths are respectably fierce and burning, that should stroke the furry ears of the devoted dubstep listener. But here, the synths are de-tuned and slightly disoriented; its as if you were listening to legitimate dance music while high on cough syrup at the bottom of a whirlpool. Or perhaps if it were emanating through a portal? Moon Wiring Club hold auditory seances, conjuring spectres from acetate and vinyl from the 120 years of recorded history, and in a way, we are all living in the spectral village, with dead voices whizzing past our ears in unlikely chimerical combinations.

There seems to be a story going on in 'Today's Bread'. The 22 tracks sound like a new adaptation of Algernon Blackwood short stories, if it were to released on Hyperdub. Once you have fallen under Hodgson's scraping knocking table-rapping beat mantras, the soothing British apparitions whisper hints and secrets, luring you further and further into the dark woods outside of the town.

In what is becoming a tradition for MWC, 'TBTS' exists in two forms (its like the daytime and night time versions of the same person). The vinyl release is the dream form of the antiquated techno of the CD. All beats and recognizable touchstones are stripped away, leaving a ghostly gelatinous imprint of yr memory of the original music. It is like a dub poltergeist, possessing yr thoughts. The 'beat version' is intended as 'dinner/party' music, while the vinyl is the after dinner apertif. The crunchy jerky beat-driven side is remarkably conducive to running around, getting things done, but do be careful! This music may be disorienting, and may cause dizziness. It might not be safe to operate heavy machinery, while under the influence.

With his idiosyncratic method of electronic manipulation, encyclopedic knowledge of obscure British ephemera, the consistency of his mythical world, and its place outside of town, listening to Moon Wiring Club is like passing through the Looking Glass. Everything you say may resemble what you have known, aka consensual reality, but its all gone a bit soft around the edges. It gets inside you and it affects you. Ian Hodgson is creating a world, down the road from fellow memory trawlers Ghost Box Records. Together, along with a small but dedicated cabal of shadowy antiquarians, they are making this world a more interesting, less definitive, place. Making mystery.

Christophe Berthet: Malval

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 09 2013
Artist: Christophe Berthet (@)
Title: Malval
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Swiss saxophonist Christophe Berthet entirely recorded some sketches on his soprano and altro saxophones (sometimes prepared or recorded by means of close mic techniques) in Malval Chapel, a quite secluded place close to Dardagny in Switzerland nearby French borders. Such an annotation is not a moot detail for a card index, but a tanglible clue which is going to enhance listening experience. Listeners aren't going to make difficult efforts of imagination while "embodying" the musician during his performance, whose role is quite close to a wizard who manages to animate the surrounding setting: peeps, cheeps, tweets, creaks, squawks and squeaks coming out from Berthet's musical instruments and his nimble dynamics on them vividly render surreptitious entities, which provisionally or permanently inhabit the place where Christophe tries to translate into sounds without being considered a gatecrasher by his visible and invisible settlers and sometimes you could even feel that the musician tries to give voice to inanimate objects such as garden tools, rasps, rafters, bricks, stones and so on. A thanksgiving act to a place, whose physical properties could ideally be considered a proper third instrument as well as a precious sonic gift to its temporary guest.

Maeror Tri: Emotional Engramm

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 07 2013
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Artist: Maeror Tri
Title: Emotional Engramm
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This album is the reissue of the final album of Maeror Tri inspired by the healing nature of engrams and the music, according for the printed linear notes, seems an empty canvas to be explored by someone's own signs. Even after 15 years this release sounds better than most album of this genre aiming for musical impact rather than meaning.
"Landscape of visionary thoughts" opens this release with a dreamy and visionary soundscape that, in the second part of the track, evolve in dark ambient territories of great efficacy. "Sublimis" a static that slowly evolve with his sharp metallic noises. "Nebulos" is another noisy soundscape while "Vadum" start almost quietly to slowly evolve in noisier territories. "Chymos" further refine his musical structure beginning dreamy and ending noisy in an evoking manner. "Undisonus" is, instead, a soundscape exercise in the portrait of vast and void landscapes. "Sphaira" end this album in classic dark ambient territories dominated by obscure drones.
While this is an album of 15 years ago, it sound modern and it's better than most dark ambient album praised by the press. Almost essential.

MB + ICS: Vir-Uz

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 07 2013
Artist: MB + ICS
Title: Vir-Uz
Format: CD
Label: FARMACIA901 (@)
Rated: *****
This album from one of historic figure of industrial music (MB) and of a musical researchers for noisy constructions (ICS) is based on the idea of someone who receive "a wise response from the pleased God" and most of the field recordings are from the jewish cemetery of Alessandria as, as most of the release after his comeback from his well-known hiatus, this release is filled from the religious inspiration of his makers.
The title track opens this release with a noisy rhythmic samples repeat rhythmically until sparse field recordings begin with quiet drones and, after an isolationistic second part, quiet and sharp noises occupy the musical canvas. "Severe provata" is a dialogical juxtaposition of drone and small noises. "Turnamentaj abscensoj" is an obscure drone carefully constructed for careful listeners. "La eternal prenis" is based on sparse guitar lines coloring the abstract soundscape. "Falsaj amikoj sugestis" starts with a noised quickly covered by metallic resonance until small noises clear the way for a drone that at last surrender to the quiet and sharp noises. "Pro lia fido", the shortest track of this release, is a drony interlude to "Pli ol la komencajn" a slowly evolving metallic drones above which are juxtaposed the usual quiet noises.
Even if it could be quiet predictable the dialogue between the almost serene drone of MB and the carefully constructed noise of ICS, this is a so well written record that it worth repeated and careful listening. Nice.

Lean Left: Live at Cafe' Oto

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 07 2013
Artist: Lean Left (@)
Title: Live at Cafe' Oto
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Distributor: Squid Co
Rated: *****
Since its opening in 2008, Cafe' Oto has become one of the temple for lovers of leftfield, experimental and unconventional musical mestizoes in London. Named after a Japanese word meaning "sound" and "noise", it offers food for guts (delicious Japanese light bites, Middle Eastern food, assorted beverages, baked goods, homemade cakes and so on) in the daytime and food for ears which could aid digestion by means of audio-aided secretion of gastric juices in the night-time. This release on Unsounds immortalize some moments of pure listening pleasure, which came from the bizarre freak Lean Left, an impressive collaborative project which lies slantwise on arable jazz and punk grounds by a poker of very talented musicians, whose musical paths already met in the past-time: the octopus-like drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and the versatile Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and clarinet from one side, the skilled guitarist Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels, whose guitars have been respectively channelled on the right and the left, of the explosive underground Dutch anarcho-punk/free jazz collective The Ex on the other side. On the two long-lasting recordings of the release (on threshold of cacophony the first "koevoet", a little bit more regular the second "Drevel"), they managed to nestle energizing rushes, pensive moments, reciprocal prodding and onstage assaults, musical quotes, highly varied improvisations and astonishing sonic juggling. There are a lot of amazing moments: I particularly enjoyed those ones when Andy and Terrie seem to let dangle or slide tones from guitar strings, while Paal and Ken histerically clamber up their games by tangling hits and harmonic lacerations. The only regret you could experience while listening to their raving could be related to the fact you missed them while in London!

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