Music Reviews



Ogni Videniy: Tajushie

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 04 2011
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Artist: Ogni Videniy (@)
Title: Tajushie
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Rated: *****
Last review of the slew of releases received from the Russian Vetvei label (no particular reason it's last; it just worked out that way) is Ogni Videniy's 'Tajushie'. My first experience with Ogni Videniy was on '2137', a collaboration with Six Dead Bulgarians. Although along the same acoustic-ambient lines, this album is quite different. It consists of a single piece only seconds over a half-hour in length. The basic elements used are singing bowls, bells, wind chimes and field recordings of water- lapping, noise washes, etc. There is also some use of voice and other minor unidentified acoustic sounds.

Remember (if you're old enough) those 'Environments' series of LPs from the 1970's? There was one called 'Wood-Masted Sailboat' and there is a degree of similarity in this recording. Throughout the piece you feel like you're afloat, and the bowls/chimes/bells give the impression of a boat's bell or buoy sounding quietly in a gentle wind. Other sounds give the impression of creaking wood or (possible) shipboard nautical activities in places. Still, it has a surreal rather than the realistic quality of the Environments LP, which was an actual recording of a boat on the water. 'Tajushie' is much more open to interpretation, but there is no doubt that this is an aquatic-based ambience, and a relatively calm one at that. There is not the variety of sonics or form that was on Ogni Videniy's '2137' collaboration, but then I don't believe this was intended to explore those regions. The subtlety makes up for it though, and you'll probably find yourself discovering new sounds within the piece you didn't notice at first. It's a nice pleasant trip; perhaps the antidote to land-locked moods. Another Vetvei release packaged in a colorful abstract 6-panel artwork by Vresnit.

Altenburger, Blondy, Gauguet: Vers l'Ile Paresseuse

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 02 2011
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Artist: Altenburger, Blondy, Gauguet (@)
Title: Vers l'Ile Paresseuse
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of its peculiar transgression against canonical academic rules and standards, improvisational music, particularly when performed by a group of musicians, entails a certain harmony between performers. It's quite clear since the first minutes of this recording that the blending between Bertrand Gauguet (alto and soprano saxophone), Frederic Blondy (piano) and Martine Altenburger (cello) is not only working, but it borders on the mystical. Such an amalgamation has been fostered by the fact Blondy and Gauguet know each other quite well, but it's astonishing Altenburger's cello manages to work as a glue while the sound bursting out from this combo rolls on, showing a great sensitivity and a noteworthy versatility - I particularly enjoyed the moments when her cello "wedges" itself into the bold experiments with breathe by Bertrand and obsessive and tenebrous hitting on very low tone's key by Frederic such as in the lovely "Dans les plis du vent" and those ones when she produces funny sounds through cello, which looks like a whistling tea kettle or a creaking door here and there -. In the initial track "La montagne ne porte pas le nuages", the rendering could sound quite fragmentary, but you will notice there's a gradual rising of tension: they reach some dramatic peaks adding layers and layers by following an imaginary disjointed path, during which the performers look like refining their "dialogue" in sketches which could be thought as frames of the same scene, till some brief moments when their instrument abruptly erupt. Beyond the technical aspect - arguably most of listenrs are going to enjoy Gauguet's and Altenburger's as the "presence" of Blondy's piano has mainly the role to set the general tone, a difficult task, which has been accomplished by the musician -, what is remarkable of this combo is their cinematic skills as they are able to describe a sort of spontaneus journey towards an imaginary lonely dimension througout absorbing changes of mood, cromatic mutations kust like a poetry whose delicacy can easily turn into something abrasive by using a musical language which often sounds skeletal despite its erraticism.

Joe Williamson: Hoard

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 30 2011
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Artist: Joe Williamson (@)
Title: Hoard
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Both the portrait this Canadian doublebass player picked up in order to introduce his release and his eccentric way of playing his plumbeous instrument could suggest Joe Williamson's sound could really be considered as post-industrial: on one side a pile of scrap-iron mainly made up of a plenty of trashed appliances such as washing-machines, air conditioners, stoves, microwave ovens, an artificial mountain which can be considered as the most visible impact on landscape (not only physical, but also cultural) inherited from the agonizing consumeristic era based on serial industrial production, on the other side a musical simulacrum, the one rendered by Williamson (now residing in Stockholm), whose sound seems to be reduced to a heap of debris. The way he plays the doublebass, based on the overpressure of the bow and arguably on vertical scratching of the strings and extended dwelling on arch passages, as well as the way he recorded this 2-(very long)tracks album, whose powerful vibrations have been grabbed thanks to the placement of the microphone very close to the instrument, results into an astonishing sound, giving the idea of a perpetual shrivelling, an endless crumpling of an undefined material, whose shape can be continuosly transformed, but not perished at all. While the first anthem, wisely titled "Inadvertent Attraction of Suspicion", sounds like a vortical intertwining of nerves and rubbles, the title-track could be similar to something between a noisy grumbling and an irritating snoring. In order to appreciate this bizarre recording, forget melody and rhythm and focus on texture and sound and you will agree with me when I say Hoard could be considered as the final and very sensual result of a process, where the words "destruction" and "creation" become synonymous just in order to bow to necessity!

David Chiesa & Jean Sebastien Mariage: Oort

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 30 2011
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Artist: David Chiesa & Jean Sebastien Mariage (@)
Title: Oort
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
When I heard this record without checking anything related to the release, neither title and references nor musician's biography, one of the first thing I thought the players could have developed an addiction from Ballance, a videogame issued by Atari, belonging to that kind of games causing anxiety especially if you try to play it when you're drunk or differently gone. It's quite easy to imagine it: you just control a ball you have to lead till some checking points placed along difficult pathways hanging over the clouds, possibly avoiding the ball's falling in the void, but the music which keep company with the gamer over the thirteen levels is so outstanding that it has a primary role for the success of the game even if it's quite simple. The "distant" acoustic tones, some doublebass gong-like strokes and even the sounds of some wooden ball rolling over some surface I've listened in the first track "Kirch's comet" - referrinf to the so-called Newton's comet, the first one discovered by telescope - activated such a memory, but the style reprises such an idea here and there all over the recording, whereas this French duet made up of the doublebass player David Chiesa and the guitarist Jean-Sebastien Mariage (who also plays guitar with Hubbub and Chamaeleo Vulgaris) pointed at the remote region of the Oort cloud, an hyphotesized spherical area considered by some astronomers as the cosmic area from where the comets start their route crossing so many times the area of Solar system as a source for the inspiration of their style based on acoustic improvisations. They look like following their route, able to kindle amazement and apprehension, with acoustic sparks and a way of performing fitting the matter: taps, raps and flaps on guitar or doublebass chords have been placed in intervals, which are wide enough to give the listener the possibility to hear the vibes and the dying frequencies they emit till the moment the wave oscillations gradually turning flat, what looks like a sonic transfiguration of a comet's tide, while the instuments seem to echo their halo and the fascinating comas they draw in the sky. A record which is going to be appreciated even by those listeners who like contemplative stuff, even if they don't really cope with improv music.

Aspec(t): Waspnest

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 27 2011
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Artist: Aspec(t) (@)
Title: Waspnest
Format: 12"
Label: Fratto9 Under The Sky Records (@)
Rated: *****
Aspec(t) are SEC_ and Mario Gabola from Naples, Italy. SEC_ plays electronics through laptop, processed tapes, and analog synthesizer. Mario plays saxophone and feedbacks through a system of resonant drums and small speakers. Their music shares the timbrical research and the execution control typical of some radical improv music (Pateras/Baxter/Brown, John Butcher, Jim Denley, Bruce Russell,..), but meets the visceral intensity and the obscure poetic of the new aktionsm and of noise music (Rudolf Eb.er, Dave Phillips, Joke Lanz) as well as the research on analog devices and concrete sound materials of the sonic poetry (Lionel Marchetti, Jerome Noetinger). The result is a fascinating and inextricable forest of sounds: frenetic structures, noise explosions, ancestral cries, an unceasing perversion of the soundscape and the time stream.

The preceding was pretty much copied from the Fratto9 Under The Sky Records website so I didn't have to explain the background of this project in my own words. (Lazy, I know, but still effective.) To some extent, the label's description is accurate, although I might disagree with the word 'fascinating' and substitute 'inexorable' for 'inextricable'. All of the 11 tracks on 'Waspnest'; are mercifully brief; the longest at 4:09 and shortest at 45 seconds. I still suppose it qualifies as a full album even though it is a total of just under 27 minutes in length as it has been released as a 12' LP with 6 tracks per side. (My copy is a CDr, but you can't get that.) Every track is an episodic excursion into sound collage and you really have to love uncomfortable noise and abrupt sonic disturbances to get into this record. There also seems to a fair amount of (wordless) vocal utterances, from grunts and gasps to burblings and ululations interlaced in the sonic current. Thinks are crackling and squeaking one moment, then squealing and squalling the next. It's not something one can even try and make sense of. As experimental avant-garde music goes, this is pretty much the fringe, and those who enjoy a walk on the wild side of this genre are bound to be impressed. Sometimes minimal and sometimes full-throttle, 'Waspnest' is bound to shock you out of musical complacency, and it could be the tonic you need. Just keep in mind, some kinds of medicine can be a bitter pill to swallow.


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