Music Reviews

Marteau Rouge: Noir

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 11 2013
Artist: Marteau Rouge (@)
Title: Noir
Format: 12"
Label: Gaffer Records (@)
Rated: *****
"Noir" is the first studio album of the bleakly imaginative trio Marteau Rouge (French for "Red Hammer"), consisting of Makoto Sato on drums, Jean-Marc Foussat on VSC 11 and vocals and the talented guitar player Jean-Francois Pauvros (former collaborator of proper miliar stones of noise scene such as Sonic Youth and Keiji Haino), after their brilliant live recording with legendary free-improvisational saxophone player Evan Parker, whose absence on this record gives this amazing ensemble the possibility to brandish their abrasively jazzy and remarkably atmospheric sound. Some titles could be somehow deceptive: for instance, you could expect that a track whose name is "Sur une balancoire" ("On a teeter-totter") would sound somehow playful and it could be in a certain sense even if it could surmise more the anguished tribulation of a duck which is cognizant of the fact that it's going to be turned into fois gras as Makoto's metallic hits are closer to the sinister noise a fanatical butcher could make by sharpening and hitting his set of knives, and the following "A la fete" could mirror the inner sounds of the inhibited day-dreaming of bloodthirsty misanthropist in the middle of a mundane party at worst, but their talent in moulding noise is undeniable and reaches its peaks on the gradual electrical saturation of the turbulent "Entre..." and the sinister wonky melodies and the heady percussive flaying of the final title-track. Menacingly astounding.

VV.AA.: Lietuvos Garso Menas - Lithuanian Sound Art

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 10 2013
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Lietuvos Garso Menas - Lithuanian Sound Art
Format: CD
Label: compiled by Gintas K (@)
Rated: *****
As he promised in the last chat we had on the occasion of his excellent release "slow" on French indipendent label Baskaru, Gintas Kraptavicius aka Gintas K invited us to discover the surprising Lithuanian sound art scene, which is almost unknown out of Lithuanian borders, by presenting us with a compilation he cared whose importance deservedly gained the institutional recognition by the support of the Ministry of Culture of the small Baltic Republic and LATOA-A (Agency of Lithuanian Copyight Protection Association) and equipped by thorough description by Jurij Dobriakov. I acknowledge that the quality of this cluster of Lithuanian experimentalists went beyond my expectation. Most of the first tracks seem to emphasize the spacial aspect of each sonic moulding: the initial "gir gir gir gar gar gar (garsas)" by Andrius Rugys seems to trace the attention's direction of the composer/listener during a rowing boat trip in the Green lakes nearby Vilnius, from the initial focus on the sound of water and creaking wooden boards after each stroke to the traditional folk song by Agota and Dorota Zdanaviciule, whose syncopation, which is a typical element of some Lithuanian vocal styles such as the many different kinds of Sutartines, seems to be mirrored by recorded natural elements and rowing itself; the academically trained composer Vytautas V.Jurgutis builds interesting figures by curling overpressurized computational microsounds, which gradually become more and more abrasive, while Antanas Dombrovskij perverts Raminta Kurklietyte's vocal improvisations by asphyxiating clumps and spasmodic rashes from broken synthesizer and circuit bending on "NNN broken jazz". The vagarious enchanting drowsy tune "We Watch TV" by Arturas Bumsteinas is an assay of the amazing "Sleep (an attempt at trying)", a radio project commissioned by the Deutschland Radio Kultur broadcasting service, which took the form of a fictional late night show for insomniacs and precedes "blind man tales 2", the astonishing textural piece consisting of melodic bits, granular particles and indented noises by which Gintas K won the main prize of the second international sound art Broadcasting Art, held in Spain in 2010. A different and likewise entrancing way to mould melodic bits comes from audio_z, the solo project of Tautvydas Bajarkevicius, whose (lasting more than 12 minutes) excerpt "Bits Pieces and So Far Beyond" focuses on whirling punctuating melodies of frail sounds and acoustic guitars, opaque transparencies and fishbowl-like deforming spacialization. Another mouthwatering assay is the excerpt of PAR, a metamorphic soundscape which features violin, electronics and enviromental sound recordings grabbed in South Africa (PAR is the Lithuanian abbreviation for SAR) Lina Lapelyte performed at Cafe Oto in London in April 2012. Antanas Jasenka minimal abstract electronics on "prognostic@act", a piece for microphone, voice, electric organ VENTA, max/msp and graphic equalizer vaguely resembles some stuff by Pylone, Zonk't, Alva Noto or Jan Jelinek, but he manages to inject a more baffling mark by means of the words he took from the notorious Seikilos epitaph ("While you live, shine/have no grief at all/life exists only for a short while/and time demands its toll"). Another interesting declension of minimalism is the one by sound artists and architect Tomas Grunskis aka ad_OS, who translated architectural graphic information (the draft of a city and its elements) into digital sonic information, which sounds basic but totally inhuman on "Analog underWAWE". The last track of this interesting sonic miscellany cannot be but a toast or I'd better say a proper sonic toast as the electroacoustic project SALA recorded sound of the fermentation of gira, a traditional Lithuanian beverage, for their bizarre track "Fermentacija".

Springintgut: Where We Need No Map

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 08 2013
Artist: Springintgut (@)
Title: Where We Need No Map
Format: CD
Label: Pingipung (@)
Distributor: Kompakt Distribution
Rated: *****
All those who lied in wait for the new album of the whismical cellist, drummer and composer Andi Otto aka Springintgut, after his acclaimed "park and Ride" on the excellent label City Centre Offices, didn't wait in vein as Andi kept busy by wrenching and enhancing both his hybrid sound and his cello, which got turned into a "fello" in the meanwhile by means of the implementation of movement and accelerometer sensors on the bow, whose data got translted into MIDI through junXion and then manipulated. In reality the prototype of fello got exhibited on the occasion of STEIM, the indipendente Dutch Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music in Amsterdam, but Andreas gradually improved it with the support of artists from many different fields. The fascination for his brainchild as well as Andi's joy for his searing creative sparkles has been mirrored on this release, which vouches for his vivid inventiveness and gleans from the sonic and musical pond of the exotic traditions he got in touch with during his cultural expeditions. Some of the most engaging tracks of this amazing album have been recorded during his three-months lasting permancence in the German art institute Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto, Japan, where he produced the vibrant "Kamogawa Cycling" and the chirping "Western Kyoto", a couple of delicate sonic cameos which reflect a certain Japanese zest, resurfacing on other tracks such as the crisp J-pop and house-spotted tracks "Moustache Twisters" and "Moustache Or Something" or the final somehow pastoral glare "Ode To Yakushima". Splashes of Bollywood bustles spurt from the tracks he recorded in India, the peppy "Bangalore Kids", where Andi mixes a vibrant fello session with electronic house tempo and a field recording of a school boy he grabbed in Cubbon Park, Bangalore, and the brief squawking whirl of "Bangalore Crows" with vocals by Indian singer MD Pallavi. The cherry on top came from the meeting of Sasha Perera, the voice of notorious Berlin's Dub Techno band Jahcoozi, in Sri Lanka, who gave her voice for a couple of lukeworm tracks, "Bullet" and "Dizzy Heights", where Andi's Fello got entwined with amazing popping grooves. Echoes of Boards Of Canada and similar IDM acts resounds on the computational hiccups of "Teslaphasic Talking" and the oblique smudges of "Where We Need No Map", while the playfulness of Springintgut sound, whose affinity with jazz and so-called skweee is clear, protrudes on tracks like the above-mentioned "Moustache Twisters" or the jaunty "Goose Egg". This album deserves more than a listening.

Helena Espvall + Ernesto Diaz-Infante: A Hallowed Shell of Ash and Rust

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 06 2013
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Artist: Helena Espvall + Ernesto Diaz-Infante (@)
Title: A Hallowed Shell of Ash and Rust
Format: CD
Rated: *****
This album hasn't real press notes apart from the bios of the two musicians: Ernesto Diaz-Infante has created musical compositions that span a broad perspective while Helena Espvall is a multi-instrumentalist plays guitar and cello. From this perspective this album is presented as something to listen without any expectations apart from the open mind to evaluate the musical qualities of this output.
This is a requirement as this album reveals a strange structure as, even it has twelve track, it relies in three long tunes: "Breathing Structures", a quite track based upon resonances and small timbre changes that create a truly meditative mood until the cello of Helena Espvall introduces the listener to second part of the track more focused on slowly evolving melodic line; "Hollow Earth Theory" is based upon the percussions of the string instruments, guitar and cello, of the two players interleaved with the juxtaposed, using the delay, melodic lines; "Against A Realization In Weathered Iron" is instead focused on the ostinatos of the strings obtaining an effect of slowly moving, almost static, texture of undoubtable effect if sufficently mindful on the small, but continuous, timbre changes.
The remaining tracks are small examples of timbric development as "With Space In The Spirit", "Interiority", "Into Subterranean Heavens" and "A Glamour In Base Materials". "These Are" is a short tune based on resonances created by delay while "Bridges Into Nothing" and "Ringing Out Tomorrows" are based on the juxtaposition of the texture of one instrument and the form created by the other. "Where The Archivist Stands" starts with the juxtaposition of the two instrument, evolves in a drone and ends with a sort of dialogue. "Something Ancient Being Born" closes this album with highly reverbered tones evoking a spiritual calm
This album is not easy to listen to as it demands really careful attention but is a recommended pick to all fans of experimental music. Great stuff.

Mike Cooper: White Shadows In The South Seas

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 29 2013
Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: White Shadows In The South Seas
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title of this intriguing album by 71-years old Mike Cooper and some semantic clues which lend a narrative structure too its fourteen tracks evoke "White Shadows in the South Seas", an old silent movie by Californean director Woodbridge String "Woody" Van Dyke Jr., focused on the vicissitudes and adventures of an alcoholic doctor Dr.Matthew Lloyd (the "Dr.Derelict of the initial track?), who got tricked by his employer to embark on a ship with a deceased crew due to the obstacle the doctor's aversion of exploitation of Polynesian natives by white people was causing to his marauding purposes. A storm will deliver Dr.Lloyd to a community of natives on an unknown isle, whose inhabitants had never seen a white man. There're undoubtedly many references to the personal experiences of Mr.Cooper, who has spent a lot of time in tours and explorations of Oceania, a fascinating continent which digged a groove on his musical and artistic production, including a sort of radiophonic documentary "Beach Crossings - Pacific Footprints", commissioned by Italian and Australian radio, which retraces history from the colonisation of the Pacific isles by Europeans to Pearl Harbour and the dropping of nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, so that you can draw an imaginary parallel between Dr.Lloyd and Mr.Cooper, who can certainly make waves about his venturous wit into musical and cultural fields (there are many remarkable highights on his resume... his very first band The Blues Committee gained support by proper blues legends such Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf and John Lee Hooker, he recorded many session with John Peel from 1969 to 1975, he shaked London music scene by his free music group the Recendents in the 80ies and many recordings by himself have been reissued by many labels across the globe) and kept his creative spirit pristine to reshape some memes of the so-called exotica generation and whisk "white music" ingredients and Tahitian, Balinese and Hawaiaan ones in an original way, which generates overlaps of tropical sonic and rhythmical blushes, pacific slide guitars and tricky crossbreed (many listeners could surmise that "traditional" motifs like "Po Mahina" and "Hilo Hanakahi" could evoke Bizet's Carmen!). The above-mentioned narrative consistency and the insertion of atmospheric field recordings, which could let the listeners feel the soaring of birds, the rain on lehua forest or even the scent of the blossoms of hala, could dispel that faux aura, which this kind of stuff may evoke. If Mike cannot be considered an old and wise minister of the cult of Tiki as there are not so many hedonistic, stereotyped and somehow holy elements which deeply marked exotica and lounge music production, his sonic brushstrokes can turn him into a sort of Matisse for ears.

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