Music Reviews

-N: Suggestions

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 30 2018
Artist: -N
Title: Suggestions
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Oqko
Beneath the witty self-referential conceit of theming an EP around a failed Google search for your own work lies a couple of long, raw, heavily glitched and dynamic sonic messes, plus an interlude track. Awkwardness is the name of the game right from the off in first track “Make sure that all words are spelled correctly”, built from feedback, white noise, deep and lo-fi analogue electric interference, and squelching weirdness. There’s no rhythm yet with rapid and unpredictable cutting it’s relentlessly frenetic. At points a sense of pattern briefly appears and it fleetingly has the semblance of extremely distorted techno, but within seconds the craziness returns.

Brief interlude “Try different keywords” is built from the same ingredients but is slightly more measured, in that the noises overlap less and there’s at least a hint of order. “Try more general keywords” starts slightly more plaintively, with drawn out slightly-guitar-ish wailing sounds acting as a form of glue, but eventually we devolve back into a similar melée to the first track, screeching and ear-bending towards the very edges of listenable noise.

It’s an impenetrable sonic wall, custom made for people looking for something challenging.

Michael Bonaventure: Darenth

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 28 2018
Artist: Michael Bonaventure
Title: Darenth
Format: Tape
Label: Canti Magnetici (@)
Rated: *****
In the liner notes written by the artist himself, Michael Bonaventure describes this release as based on three tone poem i.e., every drone and loops is based on three notes and he makes heavy use of small shifts in alteration to create harmonic movement in an almost static tonal landscape. As usual for him, the only instrument used is the organ of which he shows the malleable sound properties.
Darenth is divided in three parts: the first one is based on relatively loud drones which, instead on lasting for the entity of the track, are interleaved with quiet parts based on pulsating tones whose variation is in the background of the loud parts and so are the line connecting the blocks. The second part is a more canonical drone track slowly developing until some seconds of silence introduces a slow melody which, perhaps for the cultural connotation of the instrumens, has vague sense of mysticism. The third part starts with a static drone slowly evolving in mass, continues with a quiet part with remarkable nuances and has a conclusion with an heavy drone which overwhelms the listener.
As radical in his sound palette as canonical in his sound structure rooted in a certain minimalism, this release is another example of how a language could bring something new while linked to the old. Recommended for fans of minimalism.

Elizabeth Anderson: Trilogie Janus

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 27 2018
Artist: Elizabeth Anderson
Title: Trilogie Janus
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: empreintes DIGITALes
“Trilogue Janus” is a collection of three sonic compilations, each almost exactly ten minutes, and each made up of shorter sonic vignettes collated and contrasted into a soundtrack that’s mostly frenetic- there are fleeting moments of calm due to a reduction in elements but the pace never really lets up fully.

It’s all about the electroacoustics here, with sound structures made out of organic found sounds, electric sparkles, and various shades of noise. Pitches shift and bend across the stereo field, at times almost comically squeaky, at other times almost impenetrably rumbling and deep. It’s rough-hewn at times and definitely reminiscent of some of the more energetic and sinister-sounding moments of the Radiophonic Workshop’s back catalogue, to the extent that with the possible exception of the mastering and the breadth of the EQ, it would be possible to believe that this was recorded over 20 years ago, but it wasn’t.

While each of the three pieces have more than a few elements in common, opener “L’éviel” ends up feeling the most sinister, spending a lot of time in the lower registers, whereas there’s something a little quirker about “Chat noir” and its twisting of higher-pitched bell tones. Of the three pieces, “Neon” has the most sedate sections, with flittering noises that sound like digital birdsong opening up into a bizarre alien parody of an idyllic countryside-meets-beachside environment, though this shatters and rebuilds in a manner more akin to the other tracks after the three minute mark.

“Trilogie Janus” is also, notably, the first empreintes DIGITALes digital-only release. Format purists will slate me for saying so but a release with such dynamics and use of pure tone notes was never ideally suited to analogue formats anyway so personally I welcome the shift.

Zenjungle: Fragmented Lives

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 25 2018
Artist: Zenjungle
Title: Fragmented Lives
Format: LP
Label: Midira Records
Greece-based Phil Gardelis uses his Zenjungle alias to offer up a 36-minute mish-mash of styles that blends both soft and harder-edged drones, and white and processed noises with some jazz saxophone, long violin-like notes and distorted dark guitar-like thrums into a genre-spanning arhythmic multi-stage sonic bath.

Digitally it’s one track, but on vinyl it’s split into two halves, “Anticipation” and “Realization”. “Anticipation” in the press release cites the Greek elections and reflects an optimism that positive change was approaching. But tellingly from the title, the second half is darker, with the emphasis more on distortion and the melancholic violin work, the realisation being that the new dawn is neither as bright nor as imminent as Greek people wished for.

There’s an aptness to the word ‘zen’ here, an inherent balance that is maintained despite the flow and ebb of different layers resulting in something that, despite its harsh edges, ends up being surprisingly meditative. The varying combination of different layers keeps things gently moving in a steady stream, never challenging, never too disorientating, leaving you with a strangely warm-yet-sombre mood at the end, which in terms of this work’s purpose, should certainly be regarded as a success.

Noone: How doth the Little Crocodile Improve His Shining Tail

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 22 2018
Artist: Noone
Title: How doth the Little Crocodile Improve His Shining Tail
Format: CD + Download
Label: Midira Records
The mysterious Noone (as in “no-one”)’s first physical release is a single 60-minute work, but there’s a variety of flavours in it as it unfolds.

The headline genre would have to be ambient drone, with windy synthetic washes, slow glass-like hints of melody and hollow atmospheres pervading, but there are also twists of much whiter, angrier noise (particularly in the slightly misleading opening moments). There are also production touches that feel like electronic beats and glitches that may have begun as techno but which have been slowed, warped and processed so extensively that they’re now they’re totally out of context, just an echo of their former sounds. Occasional other elements, like distant conversations, some more glittery synth pads, and more conventional lonely piano notes and suspense-laden string notes, are temporary visitors.

In one sense this feels like rather structureless, by-the-numbers drone work with some over-familiar aspects and a lack of distinguishing characteristics, but the result holds together into a fairly coherent and melancholic hour, bookended by some of its oddest parts. Not perhaps the most accomplished or distinctive of drone pieces, but still a journey worth exploring.

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