Music Reviews



Toshimaru Nakamura and John Butcher : Dusted Machinery

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 14 2012
cover
Artist: Toshimaru Nakamura and John Butcher (@)
Title: Dusted Machinery
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this duo, but in looking at the liner notes, we see that Nakamura is credited with 'no input mixing board' and Butcher is credited with 'soprano sax, tenor sax, and feedback sax.' This is, in some ways, reminiscent of Bob Ostertag's 'Attention Span,' where you have snippets of John Zorn playing sax cut and spliced beyond all recognition. Now take that and destroy it even further. This is not quite noise, but it is definitely heading to that end of the spectrum. There is a fair amount of feedback and barely recognizable saxophone. What keeps it interesting is the skillful use of silence and dynamics. This is not a full-force, in your face kind of album. But it is still not for the faint of heart, with extended passages of high pitched feedback and other squalls. Not an everyday kind of listen, but fun and interesting. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.

Phil Maggi: Ghost Love

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 14 2012
cover
Artist: Phil Maggi
Title: Ghost Love
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratic Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Phil Maggi, but evidently he, along with Yannick Franck, is one of the founders of Idiosyncratic Records. Before I put on the CD, but the sepia tone cover image seems meant to convey a time far past, hence the title of the album. Listening to this album is a lot like listening to different channels on the radio. It is all music but none of it is particularly jarring. There are some themes that run throughout. The album begins with staccato tribal drumming that makes way for a pleasant soundscape with disembodied voices. This isn't trying to be scary though. The voices are those of a home movie or children playing, rather than the spectral voices of poltergeists. The singing that is on these tracks is there more for atmosphere than to deliver lyrics. As such, the album works more as a soundtrack to a movie in one's mind, reminiscent of In The Nursery's Optical Music series. Overall, it was a pleasant listen. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.

Section 37: The Kudos of Serial Killing

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 14 2012
cover
Artist: Section 37 (@)
Title: The Kudos of Serial Killing
Format: CD
Label: Aesthetic Death (@)
Rated: *****
I really expected this to be power electronics along the lines of Slogun with the title. But when the album opened with something more like Consolidated or some other industrial hip-hop, I was surprised. The album then takes an abrupt turn into soundscape and spoken word, maintaining this approach into 'The Mind Bomb.' 'The Rogue Drone' takes us into the realm of industrial disco reminiscent of old Leatherstrip. 'The Profile' slows it down with spoken word over stripped down beats and minimal atmosphere. 'The Body-Bag Wrapper' kicks the rappin' beats back in and the album continues cycling through styles. According to the website, 'The concept being that each killer belongs to a style, or guild, and expresses his 'modus operandi' in his own style of music. - hence the album has a very eclectic style from metal to ambient to darkwave to Numanesque dance...with other stops in between. Each track is heavily sampled with real, and cinematic serial killers, stating their processes.' Overall this was a pleasant surprise. The title made me think that I was in for the typical yelling about serial killers in the typical manner. Instead this is a rather intelligent treatment of the topic in a way that is actually a bit more chilling for its subdued manner. The music is catchy and its variety actually adds to the charm by keeping it interesting. In a way, the listener gets a sense of the manic states of the killer with moments of clarity interwoven throughout. Well done. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.

Trapist: The Golden Years

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 13 2012
cover
Artist: Trapist (@)
Title: The Golden Years
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
Eight years after their last release, "Ballroom" on Thrill Jockey, this intriguing Wien-based trio of eccentric virtuosos finally came back. Silence doesn't mean each of them idled away their skills: I spoke about "Hoard", a solo-release by Joe Williamson on Creative Sources as well as his collaborative project "Weird Weapon 2" together with Olaf Rupp and Tony Buck, while I enshrine both Martin Siewert's "(Fake) The Facts", an impressive project with three drone-like sessions played with Mast Gustafsson and dieb13, and Martin Dafeldecker's collaborative work with Otomo Yoshihide, Axel Doerner and Sachiko M on Neos jazz as well as his releases with Radian and "Too Beautiful To Burn", an entrancing collaboration with Martin Siewert, issued in 2003. Maybe my association could be influenced by the circumstance I'm delving into Chekhov's theatre and narrative techniques, but the first track of "The Golden Years" could be a reference to so-called Checkov's gun, a kind of "coup de theatre", based on an element in the narration which initially could be without any relevance, but whose importance will be clear later, so that the role of the gun in "The Gun That's Hanging On The Kitchen Wall" could be played by guitar: the initial guitar strumming by Martin Siewert looks like an alarm clock, which arouse drums and bass from sleep, and in accordance with this vision, drumming could reflect frenzied bustling with kitchenware about preparation of breakfast while bass echoes that buzz in the head, which is the obvious hangover from sudden and undesirable awakening. Then music evokes the logical change of scene, where the initial outburst of the awakening gets to its chagrin in the surrounding world, a sort of self-programmed suicide of desires and will, an inference which is in keeping with Chekov's tragedies, whose tragic end normally implies some suicide. Following tracks are likewise mindblowing: stretched dissonances, sloped melodies, gruelling sonic interferences in "The Spoke and The Horse" sounds like putting a spoke in an old and hobbling horse's wheel, whereas the following track "Pisa" follows in Trapist's footsteps left on the occasion of their exhibition at "An Insolent Noise" festival, held in that lovely Tuscan town, where they interchanged sonic instrumental crack-ups and swarms with moody melodies, which let listeners slide into the mindblowing atmospheres of the final track, "Walk These Hills Lightly", where bass gradually rises over other instruments by weaving a kind of dirge-like blues througout a web of shaded percussions, electric hums and flashes, very low electronic frequencies and occasional arpeggios.

Asher: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 11 2012
cover
Artist: Asher (@)
Title: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
After repeated operations of smoothing, bevel, trimming and shaving, Somerville-based composer Asher Tuil delivers this double digital release through Australian label Room40. His compositional approach sounds quite interesting and it's mainly related to the redifinition of the concept of home listening: the starting point was a set of recordings which has aleady been issued on "Landscape Studies", their repeated listening and treatment according to a generative process with random elements, focused on the aural perception from different listening points of the recording space, resulting in a set of tracks which are going to put your ears to a kind of hearing test, as they feature muffled and almost frayed harmonies which faces the audible threshold. This distillate is particularly diluted in the five tracks of the first collection of "Untitled Landscapes", whereas each track silently slips into listener's ear just like a point particle waving in the air reaches an alveolus inside the lungs or an H2O molecule in a wet atmosphere runs through any transpiring membrane, while in the 20-minutes lasting track of the second collection, frequencies sound suffocated by subtle white noises so that they look like those tracks deriving from repeated applications of overdubbing on tape recordings. Asher quotes a passage from Pessoa's The Book Of Disquietude (from fragment 224: "I seek and I don't find myself. I want and I can't. Without me the sun rises and sets; without me the rain falls and the wind moans. Its not because of me that there are seasons, the succession of months, time's passage. Lord of the world in me, as of lands that i can't take with me..") in order to give a conceptual framework and I think such an ideal association with that existentialist masterpiece could be well-chosen as I'm quite certain about the possibility some of you have already listened or composed in your own mind Asher's "Untitled Landscapes" as they sometimes look like some stuff casually sparked during an ordinary situation, instantaneous inputs which can provoke various chain reaction in your own mind just like those mental torments of a first-person narrator, evoked by some existentialist or diaristic novel. Check it out!


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