Music Reviews



THOLLEM MCDONAS: Piano works

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 09 2006
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Artist: THOLLEM MCDONAS (@)
Title: Piano works
Format: CD
Label: Pax recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Somewhere I've read Mcdonas mixes many different styles and influences but at the same time he doesn't remind any composer in particular and that's undeniably true. The american performer is definitely talented when sitting in front of his piano and that's something you hear immediately even if your not trained in the listening of classic or contemporary music, some fast passages as well as some complicated structures emphasize the skill of this composer/musician. The more time goes by, the more I lose my interest in many soloist performer, but apart from the obvious fact I'm getting a boring lazy fart, Macdonas work is really interesting. After several listenings the quality tends to emerge by itself, it doesn't take so much, it's just there're so many classical and "un-classical" (to quote one of the most interesting series on Subrosa) styles that at the beginning you're partially disoriented by the big aura of colours expressed by this performer. God, if I had to say it all I've heard fragments of Satie, Feldman, Cage ("piano works" in particular...obviously), Bartok, Weill but also Ellington, jazz piano, funny sketches fused with some fragments of serialism. This is a snapshot of Mcdonas' ideas during the last five years and this diary is full of contrasting pages written with irruence (some moments of "Ancient futures"), quietness ("faithful skepticism"), somewhere he looks for a communication ("Through confusion comes understanding"), somewhere else just for isolation ("Min's found an opening). As I've said Mcdonas succeed where many other fail.

Wayne Peet Quartet: Live at Al's Bar

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 09 2006
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Artist: Wayne Peet Quartet (@)
Title: Live at Al's Bar
Format: CD
Label: pfMENTUM
Rated: *****
It must have been a sizzling hot night at Los Angeles' Al's Bar, when, back in April 1999, this amazing quartet was recording what only recently became one of pfMENTUM's new releases. Wayne Peet is a well known organ player, so good at what he does, that while he gets funky on his keys with the right hand, he also plays all the bass lines for the entire band on the left hand, rocking and locking the low-end groove with the eccentric and tight Russell Bizzett (Tommy Bolin, Billy Preston, Freddie Hubbard) on drums. Complementing the fired up rhythm section plus solo organ, are two of the most active, daring and out there amazing guitar players that the scene has to offer today: Nels Cline (Vinny Golia, Mike Watt, Osamu Kitajima, Mark Weber, Banyan, Mark Isham, Lydia Lunch, the amazing Blue Man Group and dozens of other collaborations) and G.E. Stinson (Metalworkers, Chris Brown, Alex Degrassi, Devin Sarno, Kaoru, Chris Brown, Momix, Lisa Giobbi, Carol Kim and a bunch of others, as guitar player, coreopgrapher, video artist). As you may very well imagine the levels of musicianship and chemistry run way hi as the four geniuses at work improvise and experiment with jazz, fusion, noise, experimental muzak and more... Styles and influences are priceless and outnumbered by ideas and combinations of them. I will say that with so much guitar rocking out and vibing to each other and to the other two session players, names like Holdsworth will definitely find a place on the shelf of possible comparisons. If you are into free-form fusion extravaganza, definitely don't turn a deaf ear to this release.

CYRIL EPINAT/MATHIAS FORGE/JÉRÔME BERTHOLON: Duo...

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 07 2006
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Artist: CYRIL EPINAT/MATHIAS FORGE/JÉRÔME BERTHOLON
Title: Duo...
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
Epinat (acoustic guitar, objects) and Mathias Forge (trombone, objects) recorded these improvised tracks with Jérôme Bertholon (credited as "recording, electric lighter, quartz clock"!) in La Pierre Chatelus , in the Loire district of France. They performed outdoors (in a wood, in a field etc.) and you can actually hear crickets and other faint natural sounds while they play - but nothing as phonography-based as, say, Afflux's works. "Duo..." features honest, but a bit predictable and standard (if this word can be used for radical impro - I guess it can) pieces, with guitar-played-as-object ramblings and Doerner-style trombone gurgles and sputters. Not a bad album, just one that doesn't stand out from the rest.

FICKLE & HL: Distraction

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 04 2006
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Artist: FICKLE & HL
Title: Distraction
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: No Ground-r
Rated: *****
This audio/data 3" cdr has been out for a while, but I get to talk about it only now due to a seriously messed up review schedule. HL is No Ground Processes main agitator Dan Hopkins, whose very interesting debut "A449/19 (Work in Progress)" was reviewed a while ago; here he teams up with a Stoke-on-Trent-based artist known as Fickle, who has another cdr out on Consume. The audio track is an edit from a concert that the duo played in February 2004, featured in its full length as an mp3 in the data part. I have no clue about who played what, but the kind of fragmented processing of the edit is quite similar to the above mentioned "A449/19 (Work in Progress)", only that this time there are apparently no environmental recordings, just "real" instruments. The piece begins with a throbbing hum to which different sounds and layers are added throughout: scratching loops, vaguely melodic tones, a steady pulse towards the end... Quite interesting for what it is, but a bit unrefined, and for my personal taste not as captivating, in the choice of sound sources, as HL's previous 3"s.
Dec 29 2005
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Artist: SRMEIXNER (@)
Title: The dictatorship of the viewer
Format: CD
Label: Fin de siecle (@)
Rated: *****
Srmeixner is that Stephen Meixner of Contrastate, what we have here is a solo project, but obviously the fan of the band should give it a try. "The dictator of the viewer" has been meant like a big 55 minutes long suite, though Meixner had also the brilliant idea of dividing the whole book in 18 "chapters" that can be put in a different order up to the "viewer's taste". The title is coming from the 2003 Venice Biennale and embodies a reflection on the conflict between the viewer and the artist, it indirectly recalls J. L. Borgès ideas concerning the writer/reader relation. Yes, the record has some reminiscences of Contrastate but at the same time it moves forward, the release is more dark-ambient oriented, sometimes is hard to hear the passage from a "trail" to another, but that's not a bad thing if you consider this cd has been projected as a suite. I've said dark-ambient but the "post-wave/dark" keyboards at the same time makes me think to some "sci-fi"/"horror" soundtracks, that sound is somehow post seventies but even if it could sound a strange cocktail, the result is definitely good. It's a pity this release doesn't come along with images 'cause it would have been a great match, and there's a sort of idea that links the most of the episodes. How to say that..."the misty canals of Venice".


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