Music Reviews



Belbury Poly: The Belbury Tales

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 24 2012
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Artist: Belbury Poly
Title: The Belbury Tales
Format: CD
Label: Ghost Box (@)
Rated: *****
The new album from Belbury Poly; the alchemical organ by which Jim Jupp, head of Ghost Box Records, releases his distinctive brand of pastoral weirdness. The music of Belbury Poly is at times joyous and naive and at times shot through with terror or supernatural wonder, Jim Jupp is striving to create the idea world of his childhood, an Interzone that exists everywhere and nowhere, located somewhere in the vicinity of 1953 and 1978.

'The Belbury Tales finds Belbury Poly expanding their palette of harpsichords and Chappell Records samples, even going so far as to collaborate for the first time, like on the italian prog journey, 'The Pilgrim's Path'; this record seems far looser and more organic, more 'jammy' than the previous, 'From An Ancient Star'. It seems like Jim Jupp is getting into Italian soundtracks and 70s groove compilations, maybe he's been hanging out with Johnny Trunk more often. Its seems less fussy, funkier; Its still got the classic Ghost Box fanatical obsession with detailed re-creation, the rinky-dink roller rink are tight and crisp, and although eccentric, Jupp's dancey trancey synths are really quite catchy, its actually quite good electronic music, but rather than trying to sound 'of the moment', rave's usual pre-occupation with the present and the future, Jim Jupp is only interested in investigating the sounds that he likes, which involve Radiophonic music, musty children's soundtracks, and apparently now, prog rock and Bollywood boot sale tapes. He is resurrecting the lost, the forgotten; a true crate digger, Belbury Poly is digging the past, refining the strengths, creating a better yesterday.

'The Belbury Tales' design is impeccable, with artwork by in-house graphic designer and Ghost Box's co-founder Juian House, from The Focus Group. Ghost Box is all about the details, the presentation; from the production, like the way that Jim Jupp baked the backing tapes on the track 'Goat Foot' to give more of an authentic Turkish psychedelic quality, to Julian House's signature style, which has been recognizable and fully-realized from Ghost Box's first release. 'The Belbury Tales' is available on CD, on scrumptious vinyl, and digitally, and comes with a short story by Rob Young, author of 'Electric Eden', printed on nice paper in the booklet.

Ghost Box have created a whole world, a sub-continent, that never was and always will be. Their music makes the world a stranger, more adventuresome place, and 'The Belbury Tales' has something for the long-term Ghost Box devotee, and for somebody stumbling on to their late-night transmissions for the first time. Jim Jupp is continually refining his meticulous, archaeological re-creation, but 'The Belbury Tales', is unlocking new revolving doors and showing a glimpse of the future, proving, yet again, that Belbury Poly, and the whole Ghost Box roster, are not a two trick slowpony, but rather, an abundant fountain of some of the most interesting sounds, ideas, and aesthetic, that are happening right now.

Top shelf. Must hear.

Ericm & Michael Doneda: Razine

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 21 2012
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Artist: Ericm & Michael Doneda (@)
Title: Razine
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
Velmir Khlebnikov was a famous Russian Futurist poet, active at the beginning of the twentieth century; Razine by electronic manipulator Ericm and saxophonist Michel Doneda calls upon the spirit of zaum, Khlebnikov's transrational language, which sought to 'liberate words, of parts of words, letters and sounds from their accepted meaning, so that they could take on new meanings within a higher system of logic that literally transcends reason. Where Khlebnikov sought to liberate the poem, splashing words and letters across the page, Ericm and Doneda liberate the sound of a saxophone, via live electronic manipulation and sampling, creating grainy delays and sheets of sound, like Coltrane getting together with Keith Rowe, to listen in-between radio stations.

I am always somewhat surprised when i actually like a free-jazz fire skronk electroacoustic improv record; i mean, i LIKE Albert Ayler and Don Cherry, i own a couple Otomo Yoshiide albums - but this music is FIERCE, clawing up and down the side of yr skull. Noise music and free-jazz work best when they're sort of aggressive, not too polite, pandering to the crowds, its a little militant. The three tracks on Razine sound like they took place in some white-walled gallery someplace (actually the Journees Electroniques in March of 2009), perhaps with snacks and discussion afterwards. However, the music is not so easily caged - i feel like proper avant garde-ists only need the slightest provocation to freak the fuck out. Just give 'em some time and a place to do it in, and they will exorcise their demons, for all to see.

Razine whiffs of the art gallery or the lecture hall, but it also has an after-scent of the vaudeville, or cabaret; sweat and booze and greasepaint. There's a hint of the carnival-esque, reminiscent of Mingus' bump-and-grind, in Michel Doneda's sax playing. These two don't take themselves too seriously, but they make some pretty serious music. 2 of the tracks on Razine are over 20 minutes long, the second one, 'Rain', had me up and boxing in the basement, this is fire jazz, with minimal onkyo textures, crackles and hums. The intimacy of a duo, how quickly and fluidly they can respond and play off of each other, matched with their combined skill and deft wit, makes for a quicksilver sparring match, between two adept improvisers.

If you don't like skronk jazz exploration, stay the hell away from this record, but if you dig adventuresome leftfield improvisations, look no further. Ericm and Michel Doneda are breaking new ground in electroacoustic improvisation, they are bring worlds together, the conceptual worlds of theory and performance art, with the hot-blooded burlesque of jazz. Packaged in an attractive flat-black digipack, slick presentation on the part of Monotype Records, and Razine is a document worth checking out and spending some time with.

PAOLO CANTU' / XABIER IRIONDO : s/t

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 18 2012
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Artist: PAOLO CANTU' / XABIER IRIONDO
Title: s/t
Format: 10"
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
This final chapter of the vinyl series puts to close friend/collaborators on two different sides of a split, infact Iriondo and Cantù have been joining their instruments to pay duty in A Short Apnea, Six Minutes War Madness, Uncode Duello, Tasaday and many other projects. Cantù uses guitar, drums, organ, tapes, vocals, electronics and many other things to recreate something that is really close to A Short Apnea. This side is imbued of that Seventies freaky music aura, the second track for example is a pure exhibit of seventies melancholia with a bit of dissonance. You have to wait for the third of the four tracks to have a guitar driven song with a great singing, while the last track goes back to a acid, desolated world. Iriondo has left his guitar back home and here uses vinyls, field-recordings, bass drums and a couple other instruments. The use of vinyls becomes immediately central during the first track, sometimes he reminded me of an old 3" mcd he put out as Due Parti Molli Tremolanti, the atmosphere brings back to the past but the global result is experimental since he's been working on the sides and everything ends becoming quite odd. In the second episode you have again that "non-music" feeling, it looks like we have Iriondo vs himself, moderns sounds counter-posed to ancient samples, I know somebody may complain sometimes the result is not always focused, but without any doubt this' one of the most interesting work composed by this basque-italian musician.

EVAN PARKER AND WALTER PRATI / LUKAS LIGETI JOAO ORECCHIA: s/t

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 18 2012
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Artist: EVAN PARKER AND WALTER PRATI / LUKAS LIGETI JOAO ORECCHIA
Title: s/t
Format: 10"
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
This' the first of the final chapters of the 102 vinyl series on Phonometak / Wallace records, as you can easily notice by giving a check to the catalogue the majority of the musicians covered are quite well-known. On the first side of this slab of vinyl we've got living legend Evan Parker on saxophone and Walter Prati on cello plus electronics, they've been frozen during two different live sets in Vancouver and in Verona. The opening track is a monochord mantra that goes from hypnotic to lightly obsessive, circular breathing and droning sensation. The second track is my favorite one and is driven by a more than inspired Parker that crosses a path he knows by heart, the mixdown sees Prati a bit behind the scenes but the global result is damn good, abstract and a bit jazzy. On the other side of the 10" I'm glad to mention there's that Lukas Ligeti I've loved so much in his "Williamsbourgh sonatas" together with Massimo Pupillo and Gianni Gebbia. Orecchia is an interesting musician, his touch on guitar and electronics is so elegant that he barely plays ambient music, he never sails on the drumming he moves in unison with it. The same approach has been used also for the second song in which it's hard to distinguish electronic drumming from real percussions and the recording with that "acoustic" feel helps in the melting process. The outro goes back to a sort of quasi-ambient mood, I can't say nothing but lovely!.

Machinefabriek: Veldwerk

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 17 2012
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Artist: Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Veldwerk
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This interesting release signed by the renowned Dutch sound artist Rutget Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek is a collection of different past recordings (even if they have been enhanced by studio remastering), mainly available on small edition vinyl or cd-r with the only exception of the previously unpublished "Floor & Radio", which stands as the nth proof of the fact he can be considered quite atypical compared to other similar artists dealing with field recordings whom someone could mistake for ghostbusters or paranormal investigators while grabbing sounds with those powerful microphones and portable recorders. His talent in turning field recordings into more immersive stimulations than normal is particularly clear in some sonic journey reports he included in this release: the combination of sonic snapshots with frequency modulations and manipulated sounds could put the listener under the impression Machinefabriek's allowing it to take possession of his exterior and interior ear so that you could feel the whirling stream of consciousness and its continuous mingling with the unfolding of scapes from windowscreen during a long journey on train in Russia in the track "Rusland", based on the mixing of field recordings and parts of live performaces made in that country, New Meuse breaking its banks and flooding over listener's consciousness in "The Breaking Water", a track based on some recordings taken from the notorious Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the kaleidoscope of images and sensations as well as a certain disquieting feeling of dismay supposedly caused by the incomprehensibility of a difficult local idiom in the two halves of Slovensko, a sort of travel diary whose assembling and recording has been partially inspired by Chinese sound artist Yan Jun, a kind of astonishment in front of the contrast between the apparent immobility of a wintry environment rich of sounds close to the threshold of inaudible (the crackle of the surface of the frozen lake, the gentle blowing of the wind through the leaves of the surrounding forest) and the sense of liveliness inside a building in that environment in "Floor & Radio", a bizarre track based on the contrast between outdoor and indoor recordings in Radolfzeil (Germany), where Rutget was working with Steve Roden and video artist Sabine Burger for Gallerie Vayhinger and the obscure ascension in the deep space amidst radio transmissions, engine noises of the vessel and a sort of amplified deep humming in "Apollo", a very long entrancing live soundtrack for Makino Takashi's film "In Your Star", screened at Tokyo's Uplink Factory.


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