Music Reviews

Nimh : Krungthep Archives

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 12 2011
Artist: Nimh (@)
Title: Krungthep Archives
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
With shameful guilt, it took me a while to review this new release by Nimh, but for what it's worth this' one of those record that I listened repeatedly before the review and not for a matter of indecision, but for it's so easy to be listened. In my opinion Giuseppe Verticchio reaches his personal best when dealing with quasi ethnic music, sure it's not pure tribal music and not even anything like Peter Gabriel's Real World, it has a lot of the personal taste of this musician. If you take this "Krungthep Archives" cd in some way its the ideal following to his "Forgotten Tapes" release, but at the same time its quite different from the afore mentioned work. Beside his usual amount of field recordings, Nimh has played a lot of traditional instruments and worked on a sort of quasi-ethnic ambient music that mixed with field-sounds, indirectly it may give the idea of an aural documentary. Everything has been meticulously shaped by Verticchio during the mixing process that means even the most lo-fi sounds and the instrumental insertions have been married harmoniously. Verticchio's freaky taste may bring the listen into a sort of hypnotic dimension and when this musician works on this kind of releases displays a certain amount of security. One of my favourite Nimh releases so far.

Hot Club: Straight outta Bagnolet

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 06 2011
with image
Artist: Hot Club
Title: Straight outta Bagnolet
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Distributor: Monotype Records
Rated: *****
I'm getting to the bottom of the pile of this batch of releases I had review, so Hot Club's 'Straight outta Begnolet' is better late than never, I suppose. This is French Avant-Garde at its Avant-Gardiest; a combination of spoken word, free instrumental improvisation and turntables (some playing of old records, some sound manipulation), in a way I suppose only the French can do, and get away with. Hot Club is comprised of Alexander Bellenger (turntables); Jac Berrocal (trumpet, voice); Francois Fuchs (bass) and Dan Warburton (violin).

There are only 3 tracks on this album ' 'Satan Sous La Pluie' (19:35); 'Lorsque Yvonne Descends' (4:31); and 'Danse Avec Les Poules' (23:21). How to describe? In a word- Weird, with a capital W. 'Satan Sous La Pluie' begins with some plucks and plinks while an old chanson plays in the background and then along comes some trumpet burbling, squeaky violin strings, stray percussion sounds, and bass rumblings. It sounds like an LSD inspired jam to a vintage music program on the radio circa 1920. A little past the half-way mark, Berrocal begins an impassioned free-form recitation in French (well, maybe it's free-form, maybe he's reading something, I don't know), as only a Frenchman can do. Like me, if you don't understand French, you'll be lost as far as comprehension goes, but it sounds'Ãæexotic and dramatic building to a climax of sorts; especially underscored by the violin and bass droning.

'Lorsque Yvonne Descends' employs the sound of a very old Japanese (?) pop record (maybe sung in French) slowed down with the addition of little bellish tones and plucked strings 'n things. Strange; just strange. 'Danse Avec Les Poules' is no less strange beginning with a cavalcade of curious, carnivalesque old jazz recordings with only sparse sonic interjections from other instruments. Things change approaching the 3 minute mark when the free improvisation takes over in a melancholy, eerie ambience, highlighted by mournful trumpet and underscored by a low, oscillating drone. It has the effect of an odyssey through a demented carnival sideshow, and then the recording of some 1970s French femme pop singer emerges, and I can only assume that's Berrocal attempting to sing along with it. Oh boy! It turns into this disco thing while the other musicians in Hot Club play around it eventually ending in a repeating loop which fades as the Hot Club improvisation continues with another record looping a rhythm in the background. Other chansons are introduced via turntable and still the improvisation continues. Berrocal's trumpet is a cross between a fly and an elephant; a combination of skittering annoyance and bellicose bellowing. Warburton's busy violin noises and Fuchs's furious bass turn up the heat in the kitchen. Who know what the hell is coming out of Bellenger's turntables by now. It's a madly insane dance to the finish; frenetic, bizarre, and out of control. Whew! That was really something else. I'm not sure I even know how to adequately describe this let alone rate it.

This release is limited to 250 LPs (30 with T-shirt & Badge, if you're interested) and I don't know about CD or digital download; I tend to think not. Unless you can get your friendly local underground Record Shop to order it for you, you'll have go through a European distributor. I find it strange that Hot Club seems not to have a website. The closest I could find was Jac Berrocal's MySpace site, so that will have to suffice. You are probably better off visiting the Monotype records site for samples of the music though, which I would recommend, for the truly adventurous only.

Hamann / Astro: Limbo Split

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2011
Artist: Hamann / Astro
Title: Limbo Split
Format: CD
Label: Buh Records (@)
Rated: *****
This split release is by Herman Hamann (Hamann), a kraut rock influenced musician from Peru, and Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro), a noise artist influenced by seminal bands like C.C.C.C.
The first two track by Haman are a sort of spacey, with the use of sci-fi movie sounds, dark ambient while the third is a slow atmospheric tune wounderfully sustained by synth. The track from Astro is, instead, a noisy ambient assault above a dark drone; it has not much musical development, especially in dynamics but it's typical to japan outfits, but has a good sonic architecture.
This work has nothing new to offer but this could be a good pick to noise fans, not searching for pure assault but also interested to some sonic research. Nice.

Christmann/Frangenheim/Schipper: Core

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 30 2011
Artist: Christmann/Frangenheim/Schipper (@)
Title: Core
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
There's a precise and very interesting conceptual framing about this amazing release co-signed by Gunter Christmann (cello, trombone), Alexander Frangenheim (double bass) and the surprising vocalist Elke Schipper: every tracks have been entitled RAC, a protein isolated in fruit flies which appears to regulate some mnemonic processes - according to some American and Chinese researchers, it seems that when activated, RAC causes the fast fading of newly formed memories, allowing new ones to come in and solidify, a sort of turn-over into human "ram memory" arguably very important for good functioning of brain. This talented improvisational performers were maybe trying to switch RAC on during this recording occured on the end of January 2010 at Studio Borne in Berlin. It's quite clear that Elke's vocal extended techniques are ear-catching and I'm saying so not to behave with gallantry: altough cello, trombone and double bass play such an important role in the rehearsal performative stage that they can be perceived as "very close" elements to Core's dramatics and sometimes even stand-alone elements (as you can experience in Rac 11 or Rac 12), most of listeners will presumably focus on amazingly gorgeous versatility and swiftness in changing compass as well as the dramatic power by Elke Schipper, whose vocal skills sometimes sound able to cause the eruption of some subcutaneous strong energies while stammeringly muttering, humming, crying, yodelling, trilling, retching, gasping, screaming and distorting in many different ways her vocal chords in order to render emotions in a so vivid way that you could physically and emotionally react when for instance it seems some cruel dentist is trying to extract her painful tooth without anaesthesia or when she sounds falling prey to atrocious spasms provoking some vocal gasping convulsions, strangulated shouts, silent snurls or excruciating yells. Really amazzzzzziiiiiing stu...uh..uh...uh...shhhhhhhhhh...uff! B...p...p...p...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... (sorry for this sort of onomatope-like induction!)

Bionulor: Sacred Mushroom Chant

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 23 2011
Artist: Bionulor (@)
Title: Sacred Mushroom Chant
Format: CD
Label: Wrotycz Records (@)
Rated: *****
Bionulor is the project name of Polish composer/experimental artist Sebastian Banaszczyk, probably better known in European experimental electronic music circles than in the United States. Bionulor is said to be inspired by artists such as Aube and William Basinki, and from what there is on 'Sacred Mushroom Chant' that's pretty close to the mark. This album was created using only the human voice as sound source basis, then processing and manipulating the crap out of it. In that respect, this is a remarkable achievement.

Not knowing anything about the CD except the title, I briefly toyed with the idea of acquiring some hallucinogenics to put me in the proper frame of mind for the listening experience. Brother! I am ever so glad I decided against that! 'Sacred Mushroom Chant' is not an OM-ish mantra that will conjure visions of yantras and mandalas in your brain. Like a real psychedelic trip, this a journey down the rabbit-hole (or maybe wormhole) that is akin to spending nearly an hour in a very strange land, or rather, five of them.

Opening track 'SCRD.MSHRM.CHNT.' is a nearly 22 minute excursion with the sound source being an archival record of a shamanic chant associated with the ceremony of taking hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is a LOT going on in this track, but not always. From the sounds of breathing, backwards cymbal noise sweeps, intermittent snippets of electronic timbres, repeated sample loops, manipulated feedback squeals, unidentifiable sub-bass sounds, to a multitude of other effluvia, this sonic collage whisks you into a very weird realm where the normal laws of space and time do not seem to apply. At about the 7:30 mark it all stops, and then changes. There is a vague hint of rhythmic electronic melody in a repeating pattern. It is purely for the listener to make of it what you will; you could imagine a distress signal in deep space, a cybernetic code, or an interdimensional dance. A little later, a noise loop seems to be making a sound like an alien brain-sucking operation. I swear, I took no drugs while listening and writing this review! I could go on and on about impressions of this track, but we have to move on.

The sound source for 'NHN-B.' is a Japanese traditional song extracted from a collection of old vinyl records. Uh, you'd never know it unless I told you. For a fair amount of time in this track it sounds like you're floating alone through a spacey void, enveloped in a cosmic cloud of minimalistic sonics. Eventually, something takes form though, and that alien entity makes its presence known in a very sneaky and oblique manner. Before you know it, you have been absorbed!

'NL' uses astronaut Neil Armstrong's NASA moonwalk transmissions as its sound source, and in the beginning you get to hear the actual words before it goes warp. Most noticeable on this track is a throbbing bass pulse, and zizzing tendrils of electronics that zip around in the coldness of space. Eh, didn't do much for me. In DCHMP' we get Marcel Duchamp telling us about his readymade sculpture, the 'Bicycle Wheel' which he repeats a number of times, lest we not forget. The electronics here are sporadic and playful, though still generally minimal. I can't help but think it might have been interesting to combine Duchamp's 'Bicycle Wheel' with Albert Hoffman's 'Bicycle Day' as to me, this is the most overtly hallucinogenic track on the album. A lot of elements are echoed, including Duchamp's voice, giving this a very trippy vibe. There is also a prolific use of processed feedback, sometimes unpleasant, but mostly effective.

Finally, in 'NIC NIE JEST PRAWDZIWE' it is Banaszczyk's voice (in Polish, I presume) repeating the infamous "Nothing is true" quote from that old Persian assassin, Hassan-i Sabbah, which starts out like a normal sampled voice loop, then morphs into a bizarre off-kilter electronic pattern, becoming semi-industrial. Buzzes, whirrs, bleeps, bloops, etc, with part of the vocal sampling resurfacing now and then. Highly experimental and creative, but annoying as all fuck to listen to.

As you can see, there are things I really liked, and things I didn't quite care for on Bionulor's 'Sacred Mushroom Chant,' so for me, it's a mixed bag. There is still enough worthy material here though to warrant checking it out. The album was mastered by Peter Andersson of Raison d'être, so you know that aspect is up to snuff. Getting a copy of the physical CD in the U.S. might be a challenge as it only seems to be available through European distributors. (Apparently not available on iTunes either.) Your best bet might be to check out the tracks via Bionulor's MySpace site, then acquire them there.

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