Music Reviews

PUNCK: Nowhere campfire tapes

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (1994)
Jun 18 2005
Artist: PUNCK
Title: Nowhere campfire tapes
Format: CD
Label: Ctrl+Alt+Canc/AFE Records
Rated: *****
Sound-wise, Adriano Zanni/Punck has departed quite a bit from his initial cdr releases, which were mostly based on sinewaves and digital electronics, but even that is true only to a certain extent. His first printed cd (initially to be released by the defunct S'Agita recordings, and now co-produced with AFE) follows, in a more mature way, the style of the 3" ep "A movie without images", mixing environmental recordings, piercing or droning electronics and, here and there, vocal samples. For his non-bucolic, non-documentary and brutally existentialist approach to field recordings-based music, Punck is very close to his fellows Logoplasm, so there is no surprise in listening to Paolo Ippoliti's frantic cut-up in "Tsunami notes". Zanni shows how the ever-present recordings of dripping or flowing water, the scraping of contact mics, and cold, primitive electronics, can convey the feeling of a diary written during a turbulent period, rather than dissolve in academic vagueness.

VV.AA.: Transient Travels

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (1990)
Jun 17 2005
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Transient Travels
Format: CD
Label: Domizil
Rated: *****
"Transient Travels" was initially conceived in 2004 as "a temporary travel agency" presenting different takes on digital music in the Sound Train during the Swiss World New Music Days; this cd now luckily documents the event, presenting six fairly long tracks by the involved artists. Most pieces seem to be obviously focused on the concepts of travel and time, and though it's frankly hard to find a red thread between, say, COH's sinewaves electronica and Ilios' brooding sub-drones, or AGF's contemporary composition and Hecker's diginoise, all of them offer very strong and convincing works. The generous length of the tracks allows the pieces to develop and build their own peculiar soundscapes, as in the case of the two Transient Travels curators' (Jasch and Marcus Maeder) pieces, both creating harsh and fascinating performances out of digitally fragmented instruments. An extensive booklet features writings from the rspective artists, which are always interesting to read when the music is that good. Surely one of the best compilations I've heard in a while.

Banabila: Hilarious Expedition

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (1976)
Jun 12 2005
Artist: Banabila (@)
Title: Hilarious Expedition
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Tapu Records
Rated: *****
The problem with most soundtrack music is that its intent is only to accompany a movie--the visual component that you don't experience while listening to a CD. Unless it's a movie you've seen a million times because you love it, and hearing the soundtrack serves to enhance it in your memory, you're only getting half the art. To complicate the matter, the music on the new two-disc opus of Netherlands-based artist Michel Banabila, "Hilarious Expedition," was composed for not just one, but a variety of film and theatre productions, using a small army of instrumentalists and vocalists. Pastiches of piano and organ instrumentals, orchestral passages intercut with backward loops, alternately loungey and dramatic instrumental pieces, sped-up tape, abstract sound samplings, street scenes (recorded in Rotterdam, Cracow and Prague), and dialogue presumably from the films or plays themselves, unfortunately do not add up to a cohesive listening experience. How can they?--unless this were a Nonesuch Explorer release entitled, "Sounds of the European Filmmaking Underground." There are simply too many influences for any but the ultimate eclectics to enjoy all the way through.

This is to say, however, that Hilarious Expedition is a very worthwhile listen--there are some great tracks to cherry-pick: "Salar's Dream," on Disc 1 with its sad Gypsy violin; the freaky, computer-voiced "Speech" and "My Brain Is Electric;" and the hushed, subtle menace of "Metals" on Disc 2. Most of the music is not "hilarious" at all, but downright somber and brooding. It is all extremely well-performed and -produced, but you won't find too much that you haven't already heard from Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and similar fine purveyors of Ambient Groove.

I would only recommend a work of this scope and magnitude (nearly two and a half hour's worth) to serious soundtrack enthusiasts or the aforementioned eclectics to begin with. Those who have enough of the acquired tastes, not to mention the patience, will be rewarded by the gems of strange beauty you will find amid this tangled slag heap. Anyone seeking a cohesive album that makes sense from start to finish will be less than thrilled. If only everybody could appreciate sleeping under a stone bridge outside of Prague in a cold morning drizzle, waking up to an old, crazy street musician making funny farting noises by blowing through the wrong end of a trumpet. I myself definitely do, but I think I'd sooner watch the films first. (With subtitles, of course.)

L.E.A.K.: Redemption

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (1968)
Jun 06 2005
Artist: L.E.A.K.
Title: Redemption
Format: CD
Label: Stateart (@)
Rated: *****
New release for Lustige Elecktro Akustische Klànge (that's what L.E.A.K. stands for) since their debut "The old teahouse" came out on the wellknown swedish label Cold Meat Industry. Obviously it's something dark, crepuscular, odd and somehow visceral as you probably expected it to be, but I think the title "Redemption" can mislead, while "After death experience" would have been much appropriated. Death/dark ambient, acoustic improvisation shacked with a good portion of electronics. There's a supernatural calm/atmosphere that imbues the most (except for the fourth "song") of the tracks of this fifty minutes long cd...hey! They were on Cold Meat Industry for some reason at last!. If the first track is dark, the second brings you even more deep into the plot of an horror Movie. Analog synthesizers, chimnes, bells and hell know what else used to shape a lightless scenario. The white noise choking the samples of the third track reminds somehow the weirdest Death in June, while the total devastation of the fourth episode brings to mind Merzbow on acid. The cd ends a bit more quietly but keeping that "Charon-is-coming-to-bring-you-down" sensation and if that's what you're looking for, well, may be that's your cup of tea. Good and solid release and well produced.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (1959)
Jun 03 2005
Title: Gesine
Format: CD
Label: Häpna
Rated: *****
Italian experimental guitarist Ielasi's new album starts where "Plans" (on Sedimental) left off, following a gradual interest in more "melodic" and structured forms of music than his previous, acclaimed improv/electroacoustic solos and collaborations. Electronics and concrete elements are still present, but only occasionally taking over (track 5), and more often used as an arrangement for pieces which are both skeletal and detailed. "Gesine" is a moody, warmly intimistic record, which seems to whisper of personal ghosts, second thoughts and unsaid goodbyes. Taking the traditional languages of folk and blues, and blurring them with minimalistic iterations, scraping sounds of amplified objects and electronic devices, Ielasi has probably written his most mature and emotionally affecting release to date.

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