Music Reviews



ROBERT HAMPSON + STEVEN HESS: s/t

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 22 2006
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Artist: ROBERT HAMPSON + STEVEN HESS
Title: s/t
Format: CD EP
Label: Crouton
Rated: *****
As Crouton is run by experimental drummer extraordinaire Jon Mueller (do check out his masterpiece "What's Lost Is Something Important..."), it comes as no surprise to find this ep in its catalogue. Steven Hess (who has collaborated with Pan American, Fessenden etc.) is credited as playing drums and percussion, and almighty Robert Hampson (Loop, Main, Indicate, Comae etc.) as simply responsible for the "mix". I suppose he has played electronics, or heavily re-worked Hess' material, but who knows. The nice see-through cover tells us nothing else. The 4 untitled tracks, clocking in at 19 minutes, are not far from what other drummers/laptoppers (namely Jason Kahn and Guenter Mueller) have explored over the last few years: mixing sparse, latu sensu "jazzy" drumming with subdued, but scarily intense electronics (loops, drones, resonances), Hampson and Hess create tense and disquieting soundscapes, in a coherent continuum with Hampson's Comae project, or later, more fragmentary Main.

GRUNDIK KASYANSKY: Light and Roundchair

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 22 2006
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Artist: GRUNDIK KASYANSKY
Title: Light and Roundchair
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
First off, this cd comes in a particularly well done layout, with a photo reminding me of Burri's works... It surely matches well the scabrous sounds it contains. Kasyansky, an improviser I can give you absolutely no information about, recorded these four tracks in New York using radios, a feedback synthesizer, a computer and a small theremin. As you can probably guess, this is a highly abstract work made of hisses, shortwave feedback and microscopic cracklings. You can hardly distinguish the synth from the radios, for example. It often reminded me of no-input/feedback-based works like Yoshihide's, Sachiko M's, or, especially, Goh Lee Kwang's - and like many of them, there are many captivating moments (the first piece is a quite strong one) along with nondescript parts I can easily do without.

CRAWLING WITH TARTS: Ochre Land, Blue Blue Skies/Grand Surface Noise Opera Nr. 7

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 22 2006
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Artist: CRAWLING WITH TARTS
Title: Ochre Land, Blue Blue Skies/Grand Surface Noise Opera Nr. 7
Format: CD
Label: Pogus
Rated: *****
I have been a fan of Michael Gendreau's brilliant and austere "55 pas de la ligne au n° 3" (23five, 2002), but I still had to discover his earlier, crazier activity under the Crawling With Tarts, a duo also involving Suzanne Dycus-Gendreau which ceased its activities in 1998. This massive 2-track, 70-minute release by the ever excellent Pogus (after If, Bwana's equally successful and inventive "Frog Peak Music") is a great chance to re-discover CWT's soundscapes, and also features one of Gendreau's first solo composed recordings. "Ochre Land, Blue Blue Skies" was indeed recorded by Gendreau in 1998, with "conceptual information" from his partner, and sort of forebodes his artistic and professional interest in pure motor vibrations - the piece is largely an exploration of turntable-generated sounds, with a raw free-flowing approach that luckily never mars the enjoyment of the piece. If the first track is good, the second one is a masterpiece; this time the emphasis is on the cut-up and layering of pre-recorded sources (looped vinyls and tapes, I guess) with astonishing, brain-melting results. Inoffensive easy listening music and odd language lessons are smashed to bits and re-assembled in a musical equivalent to Kurt Schwitter's Merzbau works... and incidentally, the Grand Surface Noise Opera oozes the berserk creativity of early Merzbow and Nurse With Wound, had they focused on concrete turntablism. One of the most refreshing and vital releases of 2006 for sure.

POLVERE: s/t

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 21 2006
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Artist: POLVERE (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
Right after having reviewed End Of The Summer, Coletti and Iriondo are back with Polvere and this time it's a full length that's following a good debut 3" mcd. Xabier Iriondo really learned how to make it all sound since like I've been repeating before every sound is forged and shaped and consequentially recorded with a great sound engineering ability. Polvere by some means is the avant/kraut folk project of this couple of musicians and beside the experimental/post-psychedelic characteristics of the cd it shows their melodical/acoustic virtues. Weird samples, electro-acoustic pastiches and acoustic instruments marry acoustic or non distorted guitars with their usual seventy-cut but in a truly melodious style. Imagine Gastre Del Sol playing with Cul De Sac or Fahey and jamming together with undistorted/softest Faust or even Can, well... you’re probably on the right way to identify this unconventional object. The plastic cover itself is a real piece of heart and together with the top notch recording makes this object valuable of you money. High quality as one can expect and if you're into the majority of projects connecting Coletti and Iriondo you'll almost certainly like it. Polvere’ sound probably works better on briefer length but some episodes are definitely interesting.

ARRINGTON DE DIONYSO: Breath of Fire

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 20 2006
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Artist: ARRINGTON DE DIONYSO
Title: Breath of Fire
Format: CD
Label: K Records
Rated: *****
Arrington de Dionyso is surely known to many as the mastermind of one of the most relevant "rock" (between a thousand brackets) bands of the last few years, Old Time Relijun, an incendiary mix of blues, garage, free-jazz and avant music (if you don't know them yet, do yourself a favour and buy at least "Uterus and Fire" and "Witchcraft Rebellion"). If you're Italian, you could have also witnessed one of the hi-octane performances by the Arrington de Dionyso Quartet, featuring Old Time Relijun's Aaron Hartman, Jacopo Andreini and Fabio Magistrali (member of A Short Apnea, and one of the best producers in Italy). This solo album was actually recorded last year by Magistrali in his house in southern Puglia, and the liner notes state clearly that no overdub or electronic manipulation have been added. It's quite easy to know why this has been specified: these very short solo pieces by De Dionyso (here using "voice, bass clarinet, copper kettle, newspaper, and Siberian khomuz", which should be a type of jew harp) sometime have an alien, monstrous sound: in "Emptiness and Void" the vocals have a deep metallic resonance (is that the kettle?), in "Breath of Fire (Part One)" and "White Fire on Black Fire" they could be mistaken for a didjeridoo, in "Holotropic" for some kind of reeds, and so on. De Dionyso's accomplishments in throat singing and vocal improvisation (techniques about which he has also given several workshops in the USA, Europe and Israel) are surely the most interesting thing here. I was not that impressed, on the other hand, by the short free-jazz bursts which add nothing to what Arrington has offered in a band context. As a whole, this is a genuine and at times explosive record, but like many, many improv works (be they solo or not) it often repeats itself, and its fragmentary nature doesn't help either to clutch the listener's attention throughout.


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