Music Reviews

RODRIGO SIGAL: Space within

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 25 2005
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Title: Space within
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
A collection of six pieces individually released by various labels, "Space within" is a remarkable portfolio by Mexican electroacoustic composer Rodrigo Sigal. The works, created between 1999 and 2002, are part of the author's Ph. D. thesis, titled "Compositional strategies in electroacoustic music", discussed at London City University in 2003, and have won several international prizes over the years. Sigal's attitude towards his sound sources (be they barely recognizable "electroacoustic sounds" or instruments like marimba, bassoon and cello) is best suggested by the stunning ant micrographs accompanying the cd layout: following an in-depth, almost surgical analysis of the material characteristics of sounds, the studio manipulations create an alien, subtly menacing landscape. "Friction of things in other places" (a title which could well describe the whole work) and the two-movement "Cycles" are sombre pieces of shifting drones, fractured field recordings (water, birds, wind... or so I guess) and sudden spurts of human voices - all very intense and consistent throughout, at times reminding me of Marc Behrens or some Artificial Memory Trace. "Twilight" (for bassoon and electroacoustic sounds) and "Tolerance" (for cello and electroacoustics) are equally successful works, where Sigal's interventions (frequencies, crackles, unexpected noisy bursts) seems to delve into the players' performance, bringing to light a microscopic, even disharmonic view of their sounds: as if you could perceive both the notes and the stress of metal, wood and breath which generate them.

Tomo: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 20 2005
Artist: Tomo (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese transplant electronic musician Tomonori Yasudo has his fingers in a few pies, like San Francisco bands Coconut, Window Window and Willpower (currently) and The Boy Explodes (formerly). But here, Tomo is on his own. You could call "Tomo" an experimental album, of sorts, but it raises the question of what really "is" experimental and what is just badly conceived and executed music. I’m pretty open-minded about experimental music, I’m not adverse to difficult listening experiences so long as they are engaging. On first listen to this CD, all my instincts shouted "trash". I gave it a second listen and was able to analyze it a bit more deeply to discover exactly why I didn’t like it. For starters, Tomo’s overuse of celeste and bell-like synths and other cheapo-preset sounds became old quickly. Most of the music doesn’t rely on conventional form, but that in and of itself is not the problem- the real problem was that very little ever seemed to develop. There are elementary snippets of melody, scales, sequences, triads, etc. along with the odd chord here and there played on top of awkward, clunky beats and sometimes breakbeats. It all tended to sound like a used Casio synthesizer that worked initially, but malfunctioned quickly after the guy you bought it from disappeared. It reminded me a lot of the idea tapes I used to make when I bought my first synth (an ARP 2600) ages ago. The only piece of music that stuck with me on the whole disc was "Ritual Of Bubble", a more structure and evolved piece that recalls Yellow Magic Orchestra’s better moments. Okay, I still wasn’t sold... Third play yielded yet a new perspective- "this is kiddie music for adults"! The cartoonish aspects of the compositions seemed to come to the fore. Okay, now I realize it’s supposed to sound cheap and twee. Did I like it any better? Well no, not really. Still sounds mostly like the kind of recording novice synthesists might make while they’re trying out their gear. But at least I can respect it. Can’t say I’d highly recommend it, but you can’t please everybody.

PASTACAS: Tsaca Tsap

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 16 2005
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Artist: PASTACAS (@)
Title: Tsaca Tsap
Format: CD
Label: Kohvi Records (@)
Rated: *****
Composed between 2002 and 2004 in Kirjakkala (Finland West coast) where mornings last only 33'33", TSACA TSAP is the third album that Ramo Teder composed as Pastacas. Respect the old releases this is more musical and it sees a more intense use of acustic instruments respect the sampled sounds. The voice is the thing that has been treated more heavily and as a final result you've got sixteen tracks that oscillate from jazz, pop, ambient, techno, improvisation and musical virtuosity where the song, all of a sudden, could stop including a part of treated sounds (tape slowdown effect, flanger, etc) just to start again as a light pop song. Try to imagine a strange version of King Of Convenience that has been hijacked by a eccentric dj. The final result is really particular and personal and by listening to these particular songs is like walking into Ramo's living room without your shoes on and sitting down on the floor just to see his creatures taking form. Also the language used (a mix of Estonian, Finnish and one totally invented) help the creation of the strange thing called TSACA TSAP. Please be quiet and take your place...

Many Axes: 2 Many Axes

 Posted by Robert Wolanin   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 15 2005
Artist: Many Axes (@)
Title: 2 Many Axes
Format: CD
Label: pfMentum (@)
Distributor: pfMentum
Rated: *****
Drumming and instrument circles vary widely across the U.S. Anytime when a group of world musicians pick up their instruments, I grab a drum and am one of the first to join in. This type of jam session is always magickal and fun. The great thing is, that every group’s sounds are as different and unique as the individuals participating. So I am always happy to hear improvisational musicians on world instrumentation playing the entire night away! When I received 2 Many Axes, the second release from avant-garde instrumentalists Many Axis, it immediately went into my player. And I was not disappointed. There is a difference between musicians who play improv and those who record improv. Often those who record are so full of themselves that the recording is nothing more than an exercise in ego maniacal mayhem. But happily, this is not the case with Many Axis. The group plays so comfortably and well within its boundaries that you can’t help but have fun listening to them because it is obvious that they are having fun. Susan Rawcliffe not only plays wind instruments she also makes them. Mother Gaia giving birth to song! Accompanying her on wind instruments is Scott Wilkinson who also plays deftly and energetically. Rounding up the group is Brad Dutz delicate and diligent on percussion. The trio rallies themselves and slowly meld into one. A complex organic structure planting the seed, taking root and reaching toward the sky. I was immediately moved by the haunting opening track "March of Whales" which reminded me more of coyotes or wolfs. Many Axes fashion an acoustic ambient space where the winds gently glide among the cliffs blowing through the rocks and outcroppings giving birth to a chorus against which the coyotes sing. It’s actually track 2, Circuspace, that takes me into the realm of whales. Organic winds blowing out cries of solemn song organizing itself into a calliope of pulsing beats then dementia. A wonderful fluidity which openly states, "our instruments hold us to no boundaries".From the eastern underpinnings of Drama Dairy and Entropy to the singing bowls on Dali Comma, Many Axes showcase their lateral group approach to the myriad of world instruments on hand. If I have one complaint about this CD at all is has to be that too much time dedicated to the rallying of organized musical structure as the band attempts to find their own. While fun in activity, it really is not a whole lot of fun to listen too and these little exercises, though essential to this type of music, should have been edited from the final cut. But by no means does this detract from the raw edge and acoustic grace that Rawcliffe, Dutz and Wilkinson manage to conjure.2 Many Axis is mastered to fine definition. The most lithe breath is captured. As a matter of fact, breath is used as a rhythm instrument as well. The trio indeed uses the most of what they have on hand without muddying the mix. Simple is the key to their success. So build a nice bonfire, take your CD player with you and let Many Axes bring the visions in the leaping flames to life!

Polpetta & i Cani Avvelenati: Riserva di Caccia

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 13 2005
Artist: Polpetta & i Cani Avvelenati
Title: Riserva di Caccia
Format: CD
Label: WOT4 records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Polpetta e i Cani Avvelenati is a new no-copyright situationist project howling from Italy to shed some light on subjects such as vivisection and animal experimentation conducted mostly in the areas Bologna and Florence. Hence, these ALF-supporters, after their successful performance at the Reading Festival in the UK and the Melkweg in Amsterdam, Holland and a song performed live with Lee Scratch Perry, decided to pack up a great record of catchy noise-injected dubbed-out post punk experimental music that echoes Siouxie, Clash, King Tubby, Bauhaus, Merzbow etc. Weird socially-awakening lyrics in a slange that mixes english and Tuscany's dialect and more. The album comes in a very limited edition and allegedly it is already close to sold-out (because of the illustrious past of the rrrriot singer/guitar-player Peta Lopez/Clark Sinclair and the rare "ethereal" and "wordy" quality of the music), but if look hard enough you might find it (along with t-shirts and more). Luther Blisset lovers will love this. Watch out, don't get tricked! Go, fetch it!

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