Music Reviews

300 Basses: Sei Ritornelli

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 13 2012
Artist: 300 Basses (@)
Title: Sei Ritornelli
Format: CD
Label: Potlatch (@)
Rated: *****
People who ignore layout of basses on accordions - for example Stradella accordion, which is the most common one, has 120 bass buttons, even if most of musicians doesn't really need all of them to play all bass notes and corresponding chords - could find the name of this interesting project as well as the name of their recording "Sei Ritornelli" (Italian for "six refrains") quite misleading as even though this trio of accordion players, made up of Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Jonas Kocher and Luca Venitucci, often explore lower parts of audible spectrum, they don't play basses. Focusing on this instrument and their renewed versions - just in these days, I received an invite to the sixth edtion of International Festival of Digital Accordion, which is scheduled on 3rd November and is going to be held in Rome - could be equally misleading as they integrated a number of "objects" in the line-up during the 3-days lasting recording session at L'Arc Romainmotier (Switzerland), so that you shouldn't expect revised version of Tyrolean folk songs at all. The long initial recording "Fuoco Fatuo" sounds like the typical intro of improv music sessions, where the players looks like tuning their tools, but layer after layer their scouring on the lowest part of accordion's frequency band turns into something pleasantly relaxing, when it's suddenly broken by harshest squeaks of the following track "Abbandonato", whose strident noises could be tiresome if they would haven't inserted some variations. The accordion sound is clearer in the sinister and somewhat obsessive cycles of "Gira Bile", which could remind the noise of a not so perfectedly oiled rusty mechanism, whereas it's partially masked by hypnotic bass oscillations, chilling metallic cacophonies and clattering slides on "Mala Carne". Whereas the trio migrates towards highest frequencies on "Maledetto", a sort of inverted tuning compared to the initial "Fuoco Fatuo", the final "Fantasma" - the track I liked more - shows a gluier amalgamation between accordions.

Olivier Dumont & Rodolphe Loubatiere: Nervure

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 11 2012
Artist: Olivier Dumont & Rodolphe Loubatiere (@)
Title: Nervure
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Some sonic wormholes and burrs together with hourse springing, odd hiccups, metallic tool grinding and scratches before turning into a searing swirl of white noises, grim dissonances, thudding rolling and squabbling knocks and squeks of the initial long-lasting track "Petiole" limber the listener up for the bizarre experience offered by guitarist Olivier Dumont, who turns his instrument into a percussive and scenic element, and percussionist Rodolphe Loubatiere, who seems to head the collection of sketches of the following "Nervure", which sounds like a collection of many possible strategies to fray guitar strings when they reach some peaks of tautness whereas it acquires very strange tones - guitar often sounds like squawking or strangling itself -. The final and longest recording session, "Limbe", sounds a little bit more well-structures and cinematic than previous ones and beyond hard rubbing, metal and wood rumming and occasional rumpus, you could have the impression they're representing the awkward bustling for the almost desperate repair of an handloom or a music box. Even if it cannot be filed under easy-listening, "Nervure" could disclose many amazing moments for your eardrums.

Kassel Jaeger: Deltas

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 07 2012
Artist: Kassel Jaeger (@)
Title: Deltas
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Appreciated Wien-based Mego label adds another interesting mockup into the shrine of sonic artifacts by issuing (on vynil) the fifth album by French-Swiss sound artist Kassel Jaeger, whose "scientific" approach to sound isn't well-rendered only by the biographical note about his membership to the well-known Groupe de Recherches Musicales, a sort of mystery school and collective of sound researchers, a rib of Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète, founded by Pierre Schaeffer and a number of other notorious composers, related to electroacoustic and concrete music, but also by audible validation like this one. The long-suite on Face A, "Campo Del Cielo", has named after a big meteor crater in Northern Argentina, whose found rocky fragments are the source for the processed sounds of this composition, commissioned by Espace Mendes France and performed at The Planetarium in Poitiers through an 8 channel system, an entrancing suite, which has been divided into two parts: the first one, Aerolite (meaning "flying stone"), sounds like a sort of cosmic field recording derived from sonic manipulations, while the second one, Baetylus, is based on electromagnetic capture of magnetic resonances. Both of them have been filled with bleeping waves which looks like coming from scientic instruments while detecting strange electromagnetic anomalies, but the recurring noise of breaths which blows over this brunch of sonic waves imparts an arcane atmosphere to the listening experience, which seems to follow both a bottom-up and a top-down process, whereas it reflects the ideal meeting within an "alien" stone between cosmos over our heads and ground below our feet. A similar bottom-up approach seems to distinguish the title-track, "Deltas", due to the fact it begins with a very low frequencies which has been covered by layers of sonic sediments of mid and high frequencies, till the moment when pure waveforms crumble into many granular noises which look like rivulets on the soil, left by a river in flood; sounds have a so physical consistency that they can be considered as elements of the description of geophysical phenomenon which has been described in details by Kassell throughout an appropriate description which looks like taken from a geology textbook: 'Whenever the volume of water is so great as to counteract and almost neutralize the force of tides and currents, and in all cases where the latter agents have not sufficient power to remove to a distance the whole of the sediment periodically brought down by rivers, deltas are produced.'. The third final track has been entirely built on unprocessed sounds of the legendary Coupigny Modular Synth, an authentic holy monolith for many electronic musicians (a lot of important musique concrete of GRM such as Berio and Parmegiani played on it), hosted in GRM studios, whose impressive chromatic possibilities have been exploited by Kassel to built an hypnotic and somewhat frightening track, named after the notorious wordplay by Duchamp (a guest + a host = a ghost, i.e. two word with the same etymology and opposite meaning whose combination could make sense...), which was even quoted by Chris & Cosey for a collaborative track with Boyd Rice as well as by many artists of different fields, due to the spine-chilling feeling, produced by the simultaneous playback of sounds, which have the same origin (Coupigny Modular Synth) and different "physical" properties. Very absorbing listening experience.

Rapoon: Time-loop anomalies

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 04 2012
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Time-loop anomalies
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Just few months after "Disappeared Redux", Robin Storey return with another release that is, in author's words, "a collection of single tracks and 'starts' in the creative process drawn together and composed into a cohesive collection of pieces" so it's more experimental in nature and rich of surprises.
"sputnik remix" opens this release with noises quickly evolving in a quiet trumpet loop and a jazzy mood. "Earthbound and emotional" is an hypnotic track remnant of the Zoviet France's past of the author. "Hybrid identities 1" and "hybrid identities 2" forms a long track made out of noises and found sound of clear beauty forming a soundscape to sparse female spoken words at low volume. "(Memories of) holidays at the sea" return to quieter soundscape sparsely coloured by samples. "Of course there are aliens" explores more rhythmic territories while "synchronic" is a small interlude to "pig drum ritual" really remnant to the ethic rhythm and mood familiar to the past production of this artist. "Carmen 2 remix hybrid" is made out of sparse samples above a incisive beat. "Rapoon solo carmen" is a quiet long soundscape while "one year out end" closes this release with carefully juxtaposed layers of samples.
Instead of being a release filled with recollection of already used ideas, this is a mesmerizing collection of tracks and one of the best issues of the year. Truly recommended.

Hirsute Pursuit: Tighten That Muscle Ring

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 04 2012
Artist: Hirsute Pursuit (@)
Title: Tighten That Muscle Ring
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
The presence of notorious, appreciated and defiant American sound artist Boyd Rice on three tracks (including the initial snappy cover version of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging", a song which was very successfull in a period when British middle-class conformism was one of the favorite target of many pop singers) of this second explicit act by Hirsute Pursuit, straight gay music project by Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall, brought his definition of "unpop" to my mind. Referred to the artistic movement Boyd Rice co-founded with Brian Clark and Shaun Partridge, the adjective 'unpop' could be sticked on every cultural product based on "the application of pop aesthetics, stylings, or techniques to unpopular, unpleasant, repressed or otherwise censored ideas" and "Tighten That Muscle Ring" could be tight to that definition alike. The inclusion of recordings of whimperings, orgasms and other copulatory sounds as well as the use of straight and sleazy language cannot be considered innovative, but their integration on pretty conventional musical structures - many cues from trip-hop, break house and rock have been mainly revised...and most of them sounds so good (definitively better than a plenty of wacky stuff, born from marketing experts' mind, which sounded really offensive against gay people), particularly when they blend sleazy downbeat sounds and trip-hop stepping together like in "Daddy Bear" "You're Here To Pleasure Me" or contextualizethe sound within a set like in the sloppy and sad accordion-driven "One Sleazy Night In New Orleans", co-performed by Peter Martin Christopherson - famous founding memeber of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV -, that they gained an astonishing circulation before an official release without advertising or promotional campaign with more than 140000 plays on myspace - looks like follow footsteps of similar showy transplants on "pop body" and hooplas such as "Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus" by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin or Rod McKuen's "Slide...Easy In". If you're excessively susceptible to male nudity, just close your eyes when taking cd out of its digipak sleeve. If I say there are some puckered sheets printed on it, you should guess what you are going to find below it.

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