Music Reviews

Evans / Pluta / Altieri: Sum and Difference

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 16 2011
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Artist: Evans / Pluta / Altieri
Title: Sum and Difference
Format: CD
Label: Carrier records (@)
Rated: *****
This NY improvisational trio is comprised of trumpet player Peter Evans (Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, Peter Evans Quintet), laptop artist Sam Pluta (Glissando Bin Laden, Peter Evans Quintet, Wet Ink Ensemble) and violinist Jim Altieri (Glissando Bin Laden, Tatters and Rags, Pearl and the Beard).
I've had the pleasure to work with Evans several times and in several contexts, so when
I saw his name on this CD I was very curious to hear what else he was up to and, as the liner notes suggest, these tracks remind us that besides his great technical chops he also has an inate ability to adapt to any sonic situation, even when the musical "entity" he is improvising with is a laptop that spits out glitches, pop, drones, tones and all sorts of other sounds that Pluta creates with his custom built software, controllers, ring modulators and fm oscillators. Altieri adds to the organicity of the textures and although you won't often hear an untreated violin bowing sound, you will hear his skills and versatility in his own micro-tonal approach and contribution.
The focus of this release is on the interactivity between the players, as it should be! All three musicians showcase their ability to counteract each other and offer a vast array of sounds and sonorities, that span in mood, pace and intensity.

Alexander Frangenheim: The Knife Again

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 16 2011
Artist: Alexander Frangenheim (@)
Title: The Knife Again
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
This German free-jazz improvisator lavishly manages to crossbreed the forms of art he studied (...and arguably keeps on digging): born in Wuppertal, Alexander Frangenheim privately widened his knowledge of classical doublebass with Reinald Schwarz, soloist of Stuttgart Philarmonics, while studying sculpture at the academy, and he gradually extended his performing technique due to his passion for emperimental music, an hibridization which gave him the possibility to expand his activity over an incredible number of projects, works and performances. In this release, issued by the appreciated Creative Sources, Frangenheim's aesthetics looks like clambering up on scales leaving traces of scratches, lacerations, breaches, gashes and cuts as well as of sort off doodles on stave almost acting as stiches on a bleeding body after having been ripped to shreds. Seventeen smal solo sketches recorded in August 2006 in Berlin and mastered by Gunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson which are not derivative at all, but including many little jems of tonal twisting and the listener is easily going to appreciate a lot moments such as Counter Furioso, Surface, Chant, Knife, Memory or the sinister swirling pulsations of the final Birds For Z whereas the instrument sounds like putting on facial expressions or alternatively fighting with its tormenting player. You could imagine this record as a sort of wrestling or better a fight to death between the soul of the instrument opposed to the sould of the musician. Bizarre supplies!

ROBERT VINCS: pneumatikos

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 15 2011
Artist: ROBERT VINCS (@)
Title: pneumatikos
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
The debut release of this australian musician has been one of my favorite listenings coming from the land of kangaroos of the last years, every once in a while I play it and I still find it full so intense. Robert Vincs is back and the intensity is still the same, be it my personal impression or not, I think there's some sort of "mysterious feeling" creeping underneath the tracks of this new work. Even if the style of mr Vincs is still easily distinguishable, there're some considerable differences from the previous cd, I've had the impression the most of the songs have a more easy edge and I'm sure it came out naturally, it hasn't been some market strategy (hey, we're still talking about "borderline-jazz-music" what kind of market strategy can you plan!?). Eugene Unghetti and Scott Dunbabin have a big impact on the sound of this work since their role is far from that of simple pawns, they do mostly light but firm interventions and interact harmoniously with the sax of Robert Vincs. Differently from the past I don't hear that many "aboriginal music" influences, while the ambient-jazz and soundtrack elements are stronger than ever, I'm also tented to say sometimes "Pneumatikos" gives the impression it could result a more inspired and more experimental answer to Jan Garbarek or to some other ECM artists, I'm sure many will take it as bad thing but they're wrong. A more rarefied and experimental answer to some soundtracks of David Torn?...I'd say a lot more than that, just give a listen to "I hear voices". A friend of mine uses to say of all Anglo-Saxon descendants, Australians are the most freaky, this guy always says that with a lot of respect for these Oceanians and in someway I think he's not wrong at all and if you listen to this cd you'll know what he mean, above all when you find freaky elements and jazz influences well mixed track after track. I think this cd could be accessible for many kind of listeners, at the same time It betrays an incredible personality and a particular compositional skill that brings it far from predictability. When you think jazz or music with a jazzy edge has nothing more to say, releases like these show you you've been too quick to judge.

Alexander Volodin: Unfinished Journey

 Posted by Barton Graham   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 14 2011
Artist: Alexander Volodin
Title: Unfinished Journey
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here we have a genuinely interesting and unique release by Electroshock Records artist Alexander Volodin who has become a decorated musical veteran in his twenty nine years on earth. This, his latest, entitled 'Unfinished Journey' is itself, quite the journey.

It begins with a three part section that grips you right from the start, not in a jarring edge of your seat thrill ride way, but in a more compelling, and must-know kind of way. Not only is it noisy, but at times its folkish, jazzy and explosive. He approaches his compositions in some very unique and exciting ways, keeping even the slower parts fresh and invigorating. Beautifully uneasy textures and tones twist and evolve so that even by the end of even the first piece, you're ready for whatever may come next. The noteworthy 'Saxophonia' spans the reaches of beautiful, well thought out lines to droning to unapologetic noise all constructed from the smooth, vibrant sounds of'¦ you guessed it'¦ the saxophone. It is an eccentric and inspiring interpretation of a classic age-old instrument.

While it's three predecessors focused mainly on particular sound sources (i.e. sax, the lute's cousin the dorma, and even a faucet), 'Silver Thread' sets no boundaries for itself and it shows. From groaning vocals to violin to bass to synth to guitar to just all types of orchestrated noise and even the random melodic interval, it is yet again a masterful work of art.

'There, House Stood' is an all out soundtrack to insanity. At times even evoking qualities of john Lennon tape experiments with its field recordings and dialogue samples, both manipulated and not, and it's almost random flow from 'subject' to 'subject.' It appears for the most part to follow a motif set forth by the title, of seemingly random events and conversations and emotions that the house itself might perceive over time as people filtered in and out, documenting their comings and goings, expressing its joy, loneliness and occasional anger at its situations. Occupying over half the record, it really takes you through a journey of moments, some trivial, some whimsical, some candid, some maddening, that this dwelling has experienced in its many years. It's a very intriguing piece and I recommend that you listen when and ONLY when you have the time to dedicate to listening to all of its forty-one minutes in their entirety, you won't regret it.

Antanas Jasenka: Point/Circle

 Posted by Barton Graham   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 13 2011
Artist: Antanas Jasenka
Title: Point/Circle
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock Records (@)
Rated: *****
Antanas Jasenka has taken the opportunity with his latest record 'Point/Circle' to really create a vessel for the listener to take advantage of, if he or she wishes to step out of mind and body for oh say sixty-seven minutes. The collections of fluctuating tones snuck up upon by moments of sheer dissonant fear and terror enable you to transcend time and space, if only for a short time. Each piece was arranged for a specific instrument (and computer) ranging from flute to trombone to electric organ and finally culminating with a piece 'for string quartet and live electronics.' Each song is distinct while remaining a part of the whole (appropriate considering the first six songs are technically different movements of a single entity wholly entitled 'In/Out'), some with tastefully abrupt and crashing endings are reasonably minimal in a way that really works, with textures flowing slowly in, around and through themselves. There is even a point where Jasenka introduces what I could only classify as light digital funk. This album is otherworldly, drifting along the edges of reality.

The record defies me not to specifically mention the incredible 'Out of Ciurlionis,' the piece designed for string quartet. Now I definitely expected something other than the average symphonic piece here, but my expectations were nonetheless completely shattered. COMPLETELY unconventional use of the instruments makes for one of the most interesting string pieces I've had the pleasure to baste my ears with. The booklet of the disc contains a schematic diagram of the processes used in the creation of this song wherein the actual audio of the instruments was through various means converted into digital commands which fueled both audio and video processing, essentially making one great, giant proverbial feedback loop, a concept which I find quite interesting, if only I could see the video which was produced'¦

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