Music Reviews



Textile Orchestra: For the Boss

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 21 2009
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Artist: Textile Orchestra
Title: For the Boss
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
The first thing you notice about this album is the interesting packaging. It folds out like a child’s board book and is just as colorful. BLRR certainly has revived the art of packaging. Textile Orchestra is a quartet consisting of Aaron Moore (Volcano the Bear), Alexandre Bellenge, Arnaud Rivière, and Dan Warburton. Here’s how the label describes the album: "The Textile Orchestra lays concrete like Duchamp fixes plumbing: what remains in the smoldering ruins is pure art. Like a de-horned AACM, this monster snakes around with soft scratching sounds, whirs, squeaks, yells and electronic blurts (when it is not bearing down like the free jazz cavalry)." When I listened to this album, I thought that if Luigi Russolo we alive today, he would be very interested to hear music like this. For those of you who do not know who Russolo was, he was the futurist composer who wrote the beautiful manifesto, The Art of Noises. Russolo exulted in the sounds of modernity, creating his own instruments, "Intonarumori," to reproduce these noises and create compositions such as "Awakening of a City." So when I thought of who the boss in the album title was, I would like to think that it was Luigi Russolo. This is a rather demanding album for the listener, but interesting. Some comparisons that come to mind are Nurse With Wound’s "To the Quiet Men From a Tiny Girl" and Hafler Trio’s "Redintegrate." But imagine them completely layered over the top of each other. This disc consists of two long tracks. The first is titled "The Beginning of the End" and the second, "The End of the Beginning." Stylistically, both tracks on this disc are quite similar, so I will describe the general feel. This is a wonderful sort of chaos, with pounding percussion, clanking sounds, sped up and slowed down turntables, and seemingly random noises and bursts of feedback. But this is not typical wall of noise kind of noise that is thrown together haphazardly. There are interesting moments of clarity, for example, when a man continually asks, "Who are you?" with variations in prosody and a point at which the composition becomes almost normal with a passage of violin music. I had previously reviewed the split between Volcano The Bear and La Société des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux (La STPO) and I found the Volcano the Bear work to be at times a bit too minimal for my tastes. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find a level of complexity in sound that I did not expect. This is, by no means, easy listening, but it is not exactly harsh either, and it is rather engaging. I have not heard much that I would classify as "fun noise," but I would say that this fits the bill. This disc weighs in at 44.55.

BENJAMIN BONDONNEAU, FABRICE CHARLES : Dordogne

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 21 2009
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Artist: BENJAMIN BONDONNEAU, FABRICE CHARLES
Title: Dordogne
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Amor Fati (@)
Rated: *****
Double cd for this duo featuring Bondonneau on clarinet and Charles on trombone and if you didn’t pay attention to the other reviews and you’re thinking this label is just focused on jazz and related, this cd shows you were completely wrong. It looks like they didn’t use additional instruments except but field-recordings and I guess they haven’t pushed so much on the post production leaving the creative use of mixer and reverbs. I’m sorry I’m not speaking French so I can’t be completely sure of it, but that’s the impression I got, surprising since here and there they’ve been working on such unusual register I could have said I was hearing a turntable or some high pitched laptop-sample. As you probably may have guessed we’re in front of a non-traditional duo working hard to combine their musician skills with the idea of assembling an interesting record, and you can bet they did it, just give a try to Castillon-la-battaile and tell me if despite its simplicity it’s not a enchanting track. Many kind of field-recordings from the most bucolic to those involving tv sets, dialogues and street march of fanfares. The first of the two cd composing this release is probably a bit more played but maybe that’s just my personal impression, as you may guess yourself we’ve long tracks and in most of the cases the two musicians play really silently but they also come out in the open when they think they’ve to therefore don’t think we’re in front of an un-played/un-sounding "modus suonandi". Interesting release that reminded me of some compositions involving field recordings (Miya Masaoka) or those lovely cdr on Alluvial recordings.



MARC HANNAFORD : polar

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 21 2009
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Artist: MARC HANNAFORD (@)
Title: polar
Format: CD
Label: Extreme
Rated: *****
Here we go with the new full-length of Marc Hannaford, after having collaborated with an all star band like the Antripodean Collective and with a bunch of other musicians he’s back with the follow up to his debut cd on Extreme. I think this time his style is more contemporary classic oriented than before, probably if you appreciated "The Garden of Forking Paths" I’m almost sure you won’t be disappointed by this new recording, but I think Hannaford compositions have gone more cryptic emotion-wise, I know it may sound contradictory but while I find this cd is even more expressive then he’s preceding one, tempo changes, geometries and the global mood have gone odder and shadier. I still perceive a mixed background which probably led Hannaford’s pianism thought many different styles despite his jazz training, but beside this contemporary-classic influences I guess this work still pays a big homage to some great jazz pianists, above all for what concerns rhythm and tempo variations. This could give us a Frankenstein’s monster assembled with the best cuts of Mingus sewed with pianist like Jean Luc Fafchamp (just to give some references), this’ hazardous parallel by some means introduces the combination of elements I hear as one of the prominent characteristics of this new release. I can’t say if Hannaford went for a title like "Polar" for it helps to get acclimatized to the general ambiance but during the listening you’ll hardly think to something that has to do with the sun at least you don’t associate it with a deserted street as if the street would have been cleaned by some nuclear explosion. This record is absolutely far from the depressing image I’ve been depicting but its combination of quietness and odd elements made me sense a "frozen feel". This’ not your ordinary piano player but we’re speaking about one of the leading Australian jazzists, improvisers.



A SPIRALE : agaspastik

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 17 2009
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Artist: A SPIRALE (@)
Title: agaspastik
Format: CD
Label: Fratto9 / Deserted Factory (@)
Rated: *****
Naples own A Spirale are back again after few months from the release of their electro-acoustic Gariga cd and right after and the second ASp/SEC collaboration, in case you don't know the electro-acoustic phase represent just one of their many mutations, infact with the ASp/SEC project they've been flirting with the electronic matter (which I can't but recommend you to give it a try), they started as a free-jazz rock combo but the most important thing is they've been playing a lot and from the result I guess they've been practicing and working hard to twist their former shape. I remember when on their debut cd they still had this post-prog-chamber-free-jazzy-rock touch and you already could hear they wanted more and they had the potential to cross the border. Agaspastik shows the flower is blossoming, hard to say if this' the band at its personal best, time will tell; by the way what really matters is that there's a combination of factors that make this record great. The recording is finally dynamic and vivid as a band like this requires, the tracklist and the length of the cd softens a journey that otherwise could have been heavier and probably wouldn't have helped these Neapolitans to show despite the different approaches of each fragment, there's a strong stylistic continuity, this also shows the different parts have a meaning as a whole. You pass from a quasi-Caspar Brotzmann intro to a "Naked City!?...we make them appear as a bunch of pussies" follow up, but beyond the aggressive approach you'll have the chance to find spores of melody coming from avant-jazz roots, reminiscences of fractured/avant-rock guitarism, traces of harsh and soft noise-ambient, free-jazz-rock drumming where some of you may recognize a transfigured portrait of Ruins, Painkiller, Orthlem, or latest Iceburn with less violence and with no fucking prog traces in the family background. From free-jazz-noise to avant-quasi-contemporary-post-hardcore-post-industrial shit, and the fact itself this cd comes out as a joint venture of avant-free-jazz-experimental label Fratto9 and post-industrial-experimental japanese Deserted Factory is a quite explicit reference. Brain, guts, aggressivity, control and atmosphere...A Spirale are really close to the boiling point or maybe here we have the last great eruption of Vesuvio... c'mon great mountain kill us all!!.




Volcano The Bear/La STPO: The Shy Volcanic Society At The Bear And Bird Parade

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 09 2009
cover
Artist: Volcano The Bear/La STPO (@)
Title: The Shy Volcanic Society At The Bear And Bird Parade
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Volcano the Bear is one of those bands I had heard of but never had a chance to check out. I had not previously heard of "La Société des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux" (La STPO). Let’s look at each track. "Our Number Of Wolves" is like the soundtrack to some demented cartoon, with music that sounds like slowed down ragtime (think 78 records played at 33.3). "The Boy With The Lips Inside" is a minimal tribal drumbeat with odd chanting and moaning. "The Open, The Closed" is the sound of a toy store gone amok until a penny whistle and drum enter on the scene a little over halfway through. I have a feeling that this would be far more interesting in a live setting, but as it exists on the disc, it just doesn’t hold my attention. It sort of reminds of some of the tracks on Zoviet France’s Loh Land. "Death Sleeps in My Ear" keeps the recorder/whistle theme going, but this time the drums are much more intense. "The First Circle is the Eye" is much more structured that the previous few tracks, with a middle eastern feel – like if the Residents collaborated with Muslimgauze for a track. The Jew’s harp and the trumpet in the track is a nice touch. Thus concludes the Volcano The Bear segment of the disc. On to La STPO. "Guayak" brings in a man chanting and sometimes yelling things (I assume in French) over some noisy improvised music. This is still odd like Volcano The Bear, but much less minimal. As for the vocals, imagine if the Tasmanian Devil sang at an open mic night for experimental music. "Les Oreilles Internationales" continues the yelling over the improvised music theme. There is a kind of scat singing here, which is at least engaging. "Invalid Islands" is a much quieter track musically, but still keeps with the singer demonstrating a considerable range of voice over drums and xylophone. This abruptly changes a little over halfway though and gives way to slow woodwind tones and moaning and screaming. "Colonies" is a bit of a departure from the other tracks in that it has a crunchy metal riff which gives way to singing and xylophone which gives way to a bass riff and clarinet with strained singing which gives way to yelling and drums which gives way to quietness. For me, this is the most interesting track on the disc because it is more complex than most of the rest and much more varied. I have to admit that this album was not really my cup of tea, and I’m certain that neither band would be offended by this assessment. After all, this album seems to be an acquired taste, which I do not have. Volcano The Bear was just a bit too minimal for my taste, although the high points for that segment would have to be "Our Number Of Wolves" and "The First Circle is the Eye." I found La STPO to be more interesting in general, and for me "Colonies," was the high point. I do get the sense that both of these bands would be interesting to see live, however, especially La STPO. You can almost see the vocalist flailing around the stage screaming. This disc weighs in at about 55 minutes and is issued in an edition of 500.


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