Music Reviews

Roy Montgomery: Inroads

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 01 2008
Artist: Roy Montgomery
Title: Inroads
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Rebis (@)
Rated: *****
The amazing Rebis label is back with this double collection of Roy Montgomery's solo works. Now, I assume that everyone knows Roy Montgomery and Rebis but for those who don't, Montgomery is a cult guitarist hailing from New Zeland who played with Dadamah, Hash Jar Temple, Dissolve and The Pin Group (a criminally underrated postpunk act) - surely he's a prime mover of the NZ experimental scene that spawned so many brilliant bands and artists (to name a few : The Dead C, Birchville Cat Motel and Dean Roberts). His solo works are always halfway between avantgarde guitarplay, somehow similar to Loren Mazzacane Connors' "In Twilight" , and feedback/drone rock (he's got a monster split 12" with Flying Saucer Attack on VHF). Rebis is a label hailing from Chicago that deals with unusual drones - and put out some riveting records by My Cat Is An Alien and Jazzfinger among others. This double collection gathers some long unavailable tracks along with some unreleased ones. Covering a timespan of more than ten years (fifteen? more?), the music on this collection falls under several driftings and variations but in every track you can hear the evocative ragas wrung from his haunted nylon strings. Just one warning for those who will approach Montgomery for the first time: he's highly addictive and you'll probably be wanting to hear more and more from this artist. Essential listening.

CLAUDIO PARODI : A Ritual Which is Incomprehensible

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 25 2008
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Title: A Ritual Which is Incomprehensible
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
With his second release on Extreme Claudio Parodi has introduced some consistent changes for what concerns instruments and style even if I find there’s a "trait d’union" linking this one to the previous release. Parodi is a complex and weird musician and I think the interview you can read here on Chaindlk may be of interest if you need a concise introduction, by the way after having approached Alvin Lucier, Parodi’s homage goes to Pauline Oliveros. We have another fragment of Tiziano Milani’s music sampled on this recording, but this time Parodi is really far from the dronical sound of his debut on the australian label, add to this for the first half of this work you have two almost "parallel" Turkish clarinet writing the whole narrative plot. I think in someway the composer has tried to play mimetically adopting some peculiarities of the "old lady" to which this recording is dedicated but at the same time he wanted to avoid losing his own identity and there’s no doubt the result is obtained. As I’ve said at the beginning of the review the instrumental sound is nothing but one of the changes, the whole style of the music bring much more in a contemporary classic territory if compared to the debut album. I’m sure if you appreciated "Horizontal mover" you’ll find some similarities not just related to Milani’s samples but pertinent to the whole atmosphere of the work and to the fact Parodi’s music in both of the recordings brings the mark of stillness. In the middle of the second fragment of "A Ritual" you have a sudden and unexpected break where silence gets heavier than a ten tons hammer and I don’t say that just from a compositional point of view, if you put yourself in the shoes of the listener as I’m sure you will you can easily imagine how much it feeds "apprehension". It’s basically in the third part of this cd and in the coda that abstract electronics grow dying everything in such a nightly tonality I’m sure Nurse With Wound wouldn’t have despised. Strange work... unquiet... the coda alone makes you feel lost in space.

Blanketship: Teen Sounds

 Posted by Mike (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 23 2008
Artist: Blanketship
Title: Teen Sounds
Format: CD
Label: Gigante Sound
Distributor: Gigante Sound
Rated: *****
Teen Sounds is a pretty remarkable album. It's contradictory in many ways. The sounds and songs are often somewhat dissonant but yet very pleasing to the ear. They are quite dark yet also uplifting and enjoyable. Finally, the album is somber but comedic at the same time.
I was thoroughly impressed with the subtlety and complexity of this album from the first listen. The songs are composed by use of sampling, manipulation of tape reels and vinyl records, and also live instrumentation. The sounds are manipulated, distorted, arranged, and mixed in such a way as to make it almost impossible to tell where a sample ends and live instrumentation begins. The term "sound collage" falls short of conveying the sophistication of Teen Sounds, but is probably the most appropriate description.
Teen Sounds is full of memorable and haunting melodies, absolutely bizarre sounds, and distorted samples that you can't quite place. Blanketship, aka Jared Blum knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going with these songs. At no point does the album lose its way. The songs move in a clear direction. Blum's composition and arrangement skills are apparent throughout. Teen Sounds is extremely well crafted, original, and surprisingly accessible.
The mixing, by Blum, serves each song individually and the album as a whole. It's quite dense, with a powerful bottom end, but with clear highs that give the album a spacious sound. There's so much going on in these songs it would have been easy to end up with a muddled mix. But Blum makes excellent use of reverb to give the songs the width and depth required.
I had the pleasure of mastering Teen Sounds, a very unique, experimental, and rewarding album.

BoxDeserter: TwoRevolutions

 Posted by John Gore   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 21 2008
Artist: BoxDeserter
Title: TwoRevolutions
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone records (@)
Rated: *****
Nothing like trying to fill the whole frigging CD! Here we have two tracks weighing in at 36:17 & 42:18. Recorded live in Detroit at the Bohemian National Home, we have the usual modern jazz expression (three reed players, piano, bass, drums) embellished with lecturer (this will be irritating or interesting depending on your political orientation) on track #1 and Laotian Mouth Organ on track #2. Sliding in and out of structured forms and historical quotations, all are played with a certain amount of freedom but there is also a sense of composition as well to hold the whole thing together. I don’t have enough of a background in this to say whether anything new is being added to the idiom (or if that’s even possible any longer). All I do know is that some parts I liked and some parts were lost to me. The musicianship is beyond question. Now all we need to ask is if we need more or less of this kind of thing. It seems to me that music has arrived at a place that simply serves the egotism of personal expression. But then again, maybe that’s the point.

thirty9thirty8: thirty9thirty8

 Posted by John Gore   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 21 2008
Artist: thirty9thirty8 (@)
Title: thirty9thirty8
Format: CD
Label: Flattened Planet (@)
Rated: *****
thirty9thirty8 (Terrence McManus-guitar; Dave Ballou-trumpet; Devin Gray-drums) swim the sea of experimental free-jazz (or is it post-free-jazz? I can’t tell these days). All I really care is whether the music engages me. There’s plenty of improv going on here. How much of it comes from actual composition is not apparent to me, but does that matter? The end result should be the final criteria, whether all the processes work to bring about a satisfying result. What I missed was a bass to anchor the whole thing. But the various timbres and rhythms at play of all three instruments gives us enough variation to keep the interest going through the whole disk. Music like this takes more than one listen to start clicking.

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