Music Reviews

NWvic (Nerve War versus it-clings): Endless Meaningless Unhelpful and Uncalled for Drivel

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 24 2019
Artist: NWvic (Nerve War versus it-clings) (@)
Title: Endless Meaningless Unhelpful and Uncalled for Drivel
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Bugs Crawling out of People (@)
Okay, as soon as I saw the name(s) on the return address label on the package holding this CD, I knew there was going to be trouble. Squid/Bugs Crawling out of People doesn't exactly inspire good feelings and positive vibrations. Then again, most of what we review here at Chain D.L.K. doesn't come from happy bunny land, so while not totally bizarre, the name is a bit unusual for a record label. 'Endless Meaningless Unhelpful and Uncalled for Drivel' is a collaboration between it-clings (Squid) and Nerve War (Brandon Duncan). it-clings supplies the vocal rants, and Nerve War supplies the electronic sonics. That's pretty much were expecting some sort of review? Commentary? Evaluation? Pffft...well, if you really need one... it-clings’ ranty agenda is fueled by angry, cynical sarcasm ranting about everything and nothing all at once, over the entirety of 10 tracks for a duration of 37 minutes. All the while Nerve War provides an unsteady stream of minimal industrial electronics and rhythms (synths and drum machine) which is fairly effective as accompaniment to these diatribes, but would be worthless alone. After a few minutes of this verbal onslaught you will probably thinking to yourself- "Is this guy fucking serious, or is this some sort of sick joke?" it-clings would likely answer affirmatively to both. Social/anti-social commentary as entertainment, and entertainment as social/anti-social commentary.

Sewn throughout it-clings rants are grains of truth as well as a big heaping helping of bullshit. One particular passage on the track "Other People" goes "...they're always greeting people, wishing people well and good times ahead; their rotten blank lives of smeared shit-stained irrelevance...and how are you? and how are you? and how are you? Everyone wants to know how everyone is, but everyone just wants confirmation that everything and everyone shares their same meaningless bland upbeat contentment. Everyone is good. We're fine. Everyone hides cringing behind this shallow lie of mild satisfaction..." Ain't that the truth, or something like it. There are no 'sacred cows' in it-clings world; neither the good, the bad, nor the ugly are spared. Fans of it-clings are scourged as mercilessly as the people, places and things it-clings hates, and even it-clings himself is beaten-up in the process, with an unhealthy does of self-deprecation and self-loathing upon occasion. To a certain extent it-clings exhibits all the charm of an insult-clown at a carnival dunk tank booth, and might be really good at it too, but it seems unlikely that Squid could muster up the enthusiasm or reliability for such an undertaking. There is nothing new about this kind of nihilistic verbal tirade and it-clings admits it as well. (This is actually it-clings third album release, and he's had upteen guest appearances on the projects of others. Brandon Duncan has about 14 releases himself under various project names.) In fact, this country has a pretty nasty ranter-in-chief in that big White House, and although his spiel is markedly different from what we have here, it still, goes on and on and on every single fucking day of the year.

So I suppose we're in the age of rants, or rantz of you prefer, and it makes perfect sense that somebody, somewhere (Toronto, Canada, if you're interested) had to put something like this out. Also, it happens to be in all formats - Vinyl, CD, tape and digital, which I think is fairly surprising. I also know people who would absolutely LOVE THIS, being largely misanthropic and always looking for those who share their world view of contempt and loathing. For me, it's a little much, unless I'm having a really, really bad day, and truth be told, I'm trying to get away from wallowing in that sort of thing.

I'm not going to give this any kind of star (*) rating not because I don't like it, or think it doesn't have merit, or whatever, but just because I don't think you can put a value judgement on this. It is what it is, so to speak. The time and effort I've spent describing it is all the validation it really needs anyway. The interesting and amusing artwork is by Steph Dumais and the album was mastered by Famine, a highly capable and eclectic electronic music produced whose work I've reviewed here in the past. One thing further though- I strongly recommend you visit the Bugs Crawling out of People website. There you will find about 30 releases (including books) you can read about and audition (the audio ones, anyway), including these guys and Famine. It's worth the time spent, and gets my vote for the best fringe music site award of the year, if there ever was such an award given.

Ale Hop: Apophenia

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 18 2019
Artist: Ale Hop
Title: Apophenia
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Buh Records
Across the 33 minutes of “Apophenia”, Peruvian-born but Germany-based artist Ale Hop offers up an interpretation of her memories and impressions of Peru. It’s presented as a landscape, but constructed from a diverse set of sonic sources- heavily processed or miniscule field recordings, electronic glitches, sombre stretched guitar tones, and gritty textures create landscapes that, like the artwork, are portraits thick with emotive interpretation rather than anything literal.

Across eight tracks, there’s a broad range of approaches. Some are predominantly ambient, such as the thick claustrophobic texture of the title track, or drone-based like the brooding “Onomatopoeia”. “El beso” adopts a subtle rhythm pattern to give a soft temporary backbone, that contrasts against the thick lo-fi drum rumbles of “Marches”. The plucky guitar sounds of “Punales” make it sound positively folky.

Longest track “Lima” is the most complex, a self-contained seven minute minidrama that starts off with soporific, melodic calm and gradually builds through tension into a warlike percussive barrage. My interpretation of its meaning isn’t subtle or complex, but emotionally these tracks certainly carry some deliberate weight.

Overall I would suggest that this sounds more like an interpretation of Berlin than it does like Peru, not least thanks to the English-language, German-accented spoken word elements in tracks like “Side Effects”, and the prevalence of glitchy electronica and some borderline EDM elements.

Genetic Transmission: Kapuke / Music For Vienna Aktionists

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 15 2019
Artist: Genetic Transmission (@)
Title: Kapuke / Music For Vienna Aktionists
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new step in the reissue of the music by Genetic Transmission started by Zoharum is made out of two releases: "Kapuke" originally credited to Twardawa and Jankowski and Music For Vienna Aktionists which is a proper Genetic Transmission CDr. Both releases are tied by the fact that are based on recorded performances.
"Kapuke" is a long track based on three improvisation session, made by Tomasz Twardawa and Piotr Jankowski, which were recorded and later prepared by Tardawa. The result is an almost surrealist collage where the relation between voices (notably there's also Barbara as a guest), noises and sounds generates a sort of narrative as it was the sound track of a movie.
"Music for Vienna Aktionists" is an attempt to create a soundtrack for the Kurt Kren's movies whose source materials were the performances of Otto Muehl and Gunther Brus. As the movies, all eight track are relatively short, and are arguably harsher to match the provocative situation which was devised by the Aktionists.
This album shows how the music of Tomasz Twardawa was able to evoke images to the listener using noise in its relation to everyday sounds rather to a way to have physical confrontation to the listener. Cinema for the ears.

VV.AA.: Interactions: A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 12 2019
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Interactions: A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Buh Records
This is a sampler, in the proper sense, a sonic buffet providing 27 short works or snippets, all under five minutes long, the vast majority under four minutes long. It’s a palette wetter, giving you brief, but largely radio-unfriendly, nuggets that will hopefully launch you into wanting to know more.

There are a variety of styles at play- noise, industrial, ambient, drone, and more constructed and melodic offerings as well.

The more accessible tracks include “Nozomi” by Papiro & Yanik Soland, which is a quirky bit of ethno-electro-pop, and Julian Sartorius’ bouncy “Ziggli”. The out-of-breath panting sounds of Martina Lussi’s “Pool” are attention-grabbing in an obvious but still successful way, while Serote’s “Niton” is string-heavy, soundtrack-like melancholia with a gritty twist. Joke Lanz’s “Dutschke” feels like a throwback to the weirder side of early-naughties sample-hop, and the distinctive groove of Tout Bleu’s “Souviens-toi” makes you want it on repeat play.

Electronica and more production-centric works get a showing with pieces like the sci-fi-trailer tones of Therminal C’s “Sputnik Crash”. Manuel Troller’s “Hologram”, acoustic instruments bathed in rapid retriggering and looping, has a fascinating purity about it that’s rather endearing. Souharce’s “Assurance Maladie” is a glitchy lo-fi affair of pulses and melodic deformation, and Gilles Aubry’s “And who Ears the Desert” [sic] applies a similar scratchy digital logic to untraceable but vaguely Eastern-sounding ethnic found sounds and traditional music, for a form of broken reportage, while the excerpt from Purpura’s “Cruel” puts foghorn-like low bass notes on a turbulent sea of white noises.

Darker and more avantgarde offerings are included too, for example of “Tod am Bach” by Rudolf, a shifting noise and drone pattern which at such short length becomes a prelude. Christian Müller’s “London Study #2” is a characterful assembly of found percussion that flows well into Flo Stoffner’s plucky stop-start and increasingly chaotic “Carmensac”, while Christian Kobi’s “I” is a curious set of blowing noises that seem to be both pneumatic and asthmatic at times. Denis Rollet’s “sW#1” is a curious and cathartic selection of twisted noise of various colours.

Not everything was to my taste, understandably. Erb/Loriot/Morishige’s “Ice”, with its nails-down-a-blackboard toned violin screeching, was just the wrong side of painful for my ears and made me actively wish for less capable headphones, while Jason Khan’s agonised sing-wailing on “Nearly You” was somehow just the wrong kind of emotional mess for me.

As an 89-minute listening experience in its own right, it’s only moderately satisfying- like trying to structure an entire dinner out of small snack bites- but the track sequencing is reasonably well balanced and keeps you interested. But with such a broad selection on offer, there will definitely be at least something to pique your interest here, and something you can’t be bothered with- the true sign of a good sampler compilation. It’s a sign of a very healthy underground scene in Switzerland, for sure.

François Bonnet & Stephen O’Malley: Cylene

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 11 2019
Artist: François Bonnet & Stephen O’Malley
Title: Cylene
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Editions Mego
Stephen O’Malley’s guitar work here is very recognisable from his work in Sunn O)))- long, cavernous, reverb-and-effect laden sustains describing a series of cavernous, hollow, barren yet somehow darkly peaceful environments. Francois J. Bonnet is the studio re-worker, the producer, but despite having his name credited first, it does like Bonnet has adopted a very subtle, less-is-more approach to the studio post-manipulation, allowing the plaintive guitar work acres of respect and calm. Synth pad and environmental elements are subtle, and have a very strong synergy to the guitar work that makes them sometimes border on the unnoticeable.

Bluntly, for most of this work it feels like there is more variation in the track lengths than there is in the tracks themselves. Lengthy and mesmerisingly simple pieces like thirteen-minute “Pahoehoe” have the same sonic quality as the shorter sketches like three-minute “Premiere noire”, but simply for more time, dim though that may sound. And while that may sound like a criticism, if you want to approach this album to enjoy the value of its soporific stillness, it becomes a virtue.

It would be unfair to say there’s no variation, of course. For example “Tephras”’s wind tones add an extra haunting element, while the reverb dips a little deeper into the realm of an alien foghorn, and this flows fluidly into the more atmosphere-led “Dernieres teintes noires” where the guitar itself is less distinct and the after-effects of it explored further. The opening of fifteen-minute final piece “Des pas dans les cendres” is the album’s softest section, the soft pads sounding almost synth-choral, before unfolding into the warmest and most velvety of conclusions.

It’s reliable and deeply atmospheric guitar-drone that will certainly appeal to existing Sunn O))) fans, but which shouldn’t really feel like it has travelled anywhere new.

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