Music Reviews

Weyes Blood & the Dark Juices: The Outside Room

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 06 2012
Artist: Weyes Blood & the Dark Juices
Title: The Outside Room
Format: 12"
Label: Not Not Fun (@)
Rated: *****
The Outside Room is the first solo record from the talented Natalie Mering, after working with Jackie-O-Motherfucker, and under the name Weyes Bluhd. On this LP, released on 2011 on the consistently interesting Not Not Fun Records, out of LA, she summons six spectral soul ballads, somewhere beyond time and genre and fad.

On The Outside Room , Mering reverts to a more conventional song-writing approach, emerging from the tape experiment blur of Weyes Bluhd. Instead, she writes wrenching human narratives using melody, harmony; interplay of traditional rock instruments such as guitar, organ, bass, thunderous drums. What you are left with, is like listening to soul or gospel in slow-motion, through the thin wall of a cheap hotel. These bones are gilded with scrapes squeaks chimes and ensonced in miasmah: an ornate and decorative sculpture of reverb, delay, and fuzz. The lasting impression is anachronistic; it is like falling in slow motion.

I think The Outside Room sounds like Liz Harris' netherworld than the ubiquitous Nico reference, mentioned in every other soundbite about this record. I think its unfair, to be honest; its like comparing every dude who wears sunglasses and sings about drugs to Lou Reed. I feel that's two dimensional thinking, and ignoring the craft involved here. Mering is blurring pop and experimental musicks, she is making something artsy and classic.

One thing she does have in common with Nico is a solemn, gothic feel, also reminiscent of some of the later Swans. She speaks in interviews about being obsessed Halloween and other creepy things. But hers' is an enthralling, feminine kind of creepiness, different than the horrorshow slasher brutality of Wolf Eyes, or even the otherworldliness of Jandek. Instead, her world is rich and full of feeling, full of shadows and dust and notebooks. The Outside Room is a place where much has happened, goodbadotherwise. Laughter, tears, sex, boredom. It is beyond easy answers and trite description.

This record stands up extraodinarily wall to scrutiny, it bears the weight of repeat listening with grace and applomb. It is a suitable soundtrack for drinking tea at night, or a soft reminiscent afternoon. This was limited to 480 copies, on Not Not Fun, and there's still some available. Highly recommended, much appreciated.

Coen Oscar Polack: Spectral Churches

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 01 2012
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Artist: Coen Oscar Polack
Title: Spectral Churches
Format: CD
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a downmixed registration of a multichannel performance of a piece constructed using only, as source material, the bells in the carillon of a church. This has a reason, apart from the organ, the bell is the most religiously recognizable sound and, so, this work start with the sound of the bell that is gradually buried by the trasformation made by the three players at the laptop: the composer, Herman Wilken and Roald von Dillewijn helped by Bernard Winsentius at the carillon that played the 26 minutes sequence "De Damiaatjes" that was processed for the creation of the piece. When the trasformation begin to use the natural resonances of the bells, the listener is immersed in a continuum drone juxtaposed with high pitch resonances and various small noises giving movement to all the musical structure. When the resonance begin to dominate the spectrum the bells return to be hearable and this piece start his final part ending with the sound a bell.
This piece is able to use a classic sound to reveal his underlying possibility to be used for avantgarde, resulting more interesting than most modern studio-constructed sound. A really fine release.

Henrik Munkeby Norstebo: Solo

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 31 2012
Artist: Henrik Munkeby Norstebo (@)
Title: Solo
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
It's quite difficult (and somewhat reckless) to propose a solo record on trombone, especially as nowadays this exceptional member of the big family of wind instruments is prominently thought as part of a combo or an orchestra and not so really suitable for a solo performance, but this release by the young Norwegian improvisational trombonist Henrik Munkeby Norstebo, an up-and-coming star of the scene in my opinion, goes beyond any dictates coming from musical trends, marketing pithy sayings or even social prejudices as some listeners joke on trombone considering it a musical instrument for beggars (it seems incredible but I've heard similar oddities even by orchestral directors...). His "Solo" is not a conceptual release at all, but it's quite belittling regarding it as a mere set of exercises as you can attest by listening to the bizarre performative paths explored by this guy: if the first piece could feed that above-sketched stereotyped vision so that his phrases and those nice glissatos could evoke some kind of discharged soldier who embraced Dixieland jazz while reminding the feeling of loneliness while on frontline even if this opener together with the final track is maybe the warmest and most melodious moment of the whole recording, the second track is the first sample where tradional performative techniques of trombone are intertwined with funny and somewhat bizarre vocal experiments and incredible embouchure so that Henrik looks translating into trombone tones the gruff muttering of some angry man after he's been awaken by some irritating noise. There are many moments when Henrik intertwines vocal sketches with the vice of trombone such in the ninth track where his vocalizations looks like a mixture of puffing, mumbling and strangling and in the fourth one where he reminds some cartoons such as Pingu or The Line's choleric reactions against its drawer when meeting a broken line! And there are moments when Henrik plays with glissando, trills and vibrational effects on trombone in a skillful way. Highly enjoyable and nostalgia-tinged music, born from a somewhat dermic relation between musician and instrument.

Koji Asano: Solstice Eclipse

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 27 2012
Artist: Koji Asano (@)
Title: Solstice Eclipse
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Rated: *****
According to someone, the agonizing frequencies which sound like unbracing a weak compositional framing, feeble dynamics of a bundle of withering sounds emitting a sort of mournful hum, compressed as it is in a very narrow range of values, a certain grieving aura of doleful dreariness evoked by the slow variations of some sound which looks like coming from corroded organ-pipes performing during solemn obsequies taken and played through overcranking, such a time-stretched fading evaporating during the whole listening experience as well as such a title, Solstice Eclipse, having been Solstice the "trigger" of his weighty discography and the name of Koji Asano's sort of label, together with the remarkable slowing down of issues (this is just second release over 5-year span by this Japanese composer, well-known for his prolificacy) could be interpreted as an elegant way to wriggle out of music scene (rumours denied by the recent issue of "Polar Parliament"). I prefer to consider such a release as the result of influences from our days, so that behind those unrecognizable sound sources due to the abuse of time-stretching (someone could argue it could be an over-expanded guitar tone, even the general sound of Asano's 47 minutes and 48 seconds lasting drone recalls the failing sound some Chinese toy keyboards emit when battery is low!) the sonic translation of a feeble ray of light during eclipse, which in crisis times could be easily considered a metaphor of something slowing or dying or if we bravely associate it to some notorious irritating measures such as ACTA, PIPA or SOPA, it could be thought as the suited metaphor of the fading of free knowledge.

Maurizio Ravalico / Isambard Khroustaliov : The Resurfacing of an Atavistic Trait

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 24 2012
Artist: Maurizio Ravalico / Isambard Khroustaliov
Title: The Resurfacing of an Atavistic Trait
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Not Applicable (@)
Rated: *****
The new release from Not Applicable is the second collaboration between Maurizio Ravalico and Isambard Khroustaliov; according to the linear notes the tracks "are not improvisations, but planned traverses", so this work should be seen as another experiment in the perilous walk between eai and contemporary music.
"The leisurely exploration of a karstic area;" (the tiles are shortened because they are really long) is an exploration of some of the various possibilities of metallic sound: noises, beats and resonance are used with a structure in mind: an energic first part, a more meditative second and a final part dominated by metallic beats. "The heavy breathing of a huge dormant monster, lying in ...", instead, is a long dialectic track constructed by frenetic rhythms, followed by a part of atmospheric drones whose slow development introduce the listener to the final juxtaposition, or synthesis.
This release is an example of a path of research whose objective is to escape the formal cage of the structure and the fear of emptiness of the free form; perhaps is demanding because lacks of some of the familiar traits of experimental music but has some of its flavours but it's indeed full of hidden charm.

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