Music Reviews

The Gray Field Recordings: Sing 99 and 90

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 15 2003
Artist: The Gray Field Recordings (@)
Title: Sing 99 and 90
Format: CD
Label: Ethedrone (@)
Ex-J.U.N.K. (r.i.p.) and co-founder of the label Dead Records (r.i.p.), R. Loftiss started her own one-(wo)man-band The Gray Field Recordings, with contributions from two Techix members. After the 2001 "As One Cast Down by Sadness", she is now signed to Texas label Ethedrone on which she has just released "Sing 99 and 90". R. has always been into experimental music made of found sounds, spliced tapes, drones and distortions. Just by listening to the first track of this record you'll get a picture matching this description, but the nice thing about her music is that she is very heterogeneous and dynamic, so after the initial eight minutes of splintering farts and sheer glitching acute frequencies, you actually get to know a less radical and more artistic and dark side of her production. A short prelude of female choirs introduce the third piece's piercing distortions, thrilling and scary background noises, cut and delayed whispering voices and plenty of reversed sounds that would be a proud addition to many of today's horror movies' soundtracks. Another important element in her music seem to be the string instruments brought in by her male collaborators (violin and viola), so after a nearly classical, but vaguely nostalgic and rather noir duet of the two instruments, the stage is again theater of loud and hi-pitched saturated larsens. Eventually the strings come back along with a wash of reverb that gives them those grand and almost holy attributes. Aided by slowed-down mechanical background noises they build up a disquieting atmosphere that serves well at introducing what maybe are two of the most intimate and wicked compositions of them all: a heavily-effected room-sounding acoustic ballad with whispered poetic lyrics and a foggy distant-sounding almost celtic/pagan music floor with heavenly female choirs and more of those close up whispered poems that this time are so clear you can actually listen to them and follow through their vortex of alienating words and complex ambience all the way to where she confesses she must go and kill her husband now. The CD-R closes with a disturbing image of childhood-memory sounds that complete an already quite sombre picture. The one thing about this CD-R release, especially its last few songs, is that it's extremely graphic, intensely visionary, image-provoking, suggesting and discomforting. I wouldn't recommended if you can't sleep at night, but it's a very interesting work...

VV.AA.: In Memoriam Tarkovsky

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 12 2003
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: In Memoriam Tarkovsky
Format: CD
Label: Isofar Vapor Bulk (@)
Especially considering that Electroshock label owner's father Edward Artemyev has composed several soundtracks for his movies (and that therefore the label also released for example Victor Cerullo's homage to Tarkovsky), this is not the first time I come across a CD that was either inspired by or dedicated to the memory of Russian film maker Andrei (1932-1986), whose renowned works include "Stalker", "Ivan's Childhood", "Solaris" or "Mirror". Moscow-based label IVB decided to pay him a tribute with a four-track CD compilation limited to 500 copies and with a CD booklet cover cut in the shape of an envelope. Roger Doyle, Christian Renou, Michael Prime and Stanislav Kreitchi were the four artists chosen for this project and each and every one of them offers his very own personal and extended contribution.
Prime gets the lead and keeps it on the quite side throughout his ten minutes of liquid abstracts and only sporadically resorts to louder expedients such as processed voices and other signals.
With the shortest song of the batch (eight and a half minutes!), Ex-Brume Christian introduces the listener to the more artistic and dark side of the CD with his very nice suite of low-end slow-pace time-scanned sounds, Russian monologues, occasional static-like distortions and other feedback artifacts and over-driven manipulations.
After Renou's climax, Kreitchi gets to carry the flame into the obscure ambience. Electronic composer for over forty years and now making music for experimental theater, Kreitchi was among the designers and is now the keeper of the only ANS synthesizer in the world, therefore you better believe he uses it for his piece called "Water, Water, Water Everywhere" (which believe it or not was composed just weeks before Europe was flooded last year) and which, besides the watery sounds and the ANS' ambience also features what sounds like metallic re-processed sounds.
In conclusion Doyle brings back the sombre and tranquil atmospheres of the opening track and haunts them with samples of female voices and all sorts of sinister waveforms that surely end this on a murky key that leaves space for thinking and remembering.

psi: The ___ who had begun his career as a useful ___ of the ___ court later became the ___ of ___ and the ___ of ___.

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 12 2003
Artist: psi (@)
Title: The ___ who had begun his career as a useful ___ of the ___ court later became the ___ of ___ and the ___ of ___.
Format: CD
Label: Evolving Ear (@)
Distributor: Drimala
It's always nice to find out that you have interesting neighbors you've never met who are doing the very things you write about. That's the deal in this case. The Brooklyn, NY based experimental trio psi sent me this CD from not far away from where I live and introduced me to their individual activities as electro-acoustic sound sculptors. Jaime Fennelly (electronicist, improviser, composer) has been working with a choreographer/dancer on various shows and was involved in many collaborations as well as recipient of the 2002 Artist Exploration Fund from Arts International; Chris Forsyth (guitar player) established his name in the international experimental improvisational scene through collaborations with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, All Time Present, W.0.0. etc and was curator of the Bunker Annex Series at NYC's club the Knitting Factory and co-organizer of the yearly four-day Williamsburg, Brooklyn "Improvised & Otherwise Festival of Sound and Form"; Fritz Welch (drummer, percussionist, visual artist), previously with Wi77!6, Reel-Speed-Artist, Bushwick Trip, Irritating HorseEye, Poppycorn and Dioclese, Naval Cassidy, Hands of Orlak, organizes shows and festivals such as the Humansacrifice presents @ Momenta Arts 2002 and 2003 Brooklyn Free Music Festival. As you may gather, these fine folks are really and deeply into what they are doing so it should come as no wonder that by mixing their experience you'll likely get an out of the ordinary piece of weird and found sounds that would perfectly fit on Staalplaat's or Electroshock's catalogues. Screeching, sheer and sinister noises alternate with found sounds possibly result of field recordings (sound like a household) and with acoustical recordings of improvised free-form electric guitar. The whole thing is layered on top of subtle electric floor tones that turn into other static-fashioned material. It's all extremely random and yet planned out.

KOJI ASANO: Absurd Summer / Piano Suite Vol.1 Fitness Club / Gondola Odissey

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 12 2003
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Absurd Summer / Piano Suite Vol.1 Fitness Club / Gondola Odissey
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Lately I'm appreciating more Asano's work because, even if he deals always with abstract or concrete music, his latest works make me feel different kind of emotions when I listen to them and this is what a record should be. In my opinion the old ones were based mainly on intuitions or sound experiments, while the new ones are always based on experimentation and research but they've got their own soul and are more expressive respect sixty minutes of hisses. Over creative as usual, this time Koji sent me three CDs which compose the "spring 2003 collection". The respective titles are ABSURD SUMMER, PIANO SUITE VOL.1 FITNESS CLUB 1÷20 and GONDOLA ODISSEY. Let's start with what I've got into my CD player now: PIANO SUITE VOL.1. The work is divided into twenty short tracks (the longest one is two minute and half) for a total of about nineteen minutes and I have to admit that in such a short time it's able to create a thik atmosphere full of expression and feelings. Isao Otake, which plays piano in this CD, paints nice moments of apparently improvised music which are able to make you relax and join the flux of notes. The titles are absurd (I think they are like a joke) and describe the various moments of a few days visit to a fitness club (it should be a Japanese one because I don't know if you can find "Wheat Noodles" or "Broiled Eels" in other countries). For ABSURD SUMMER we've got to talk about his old works as this CD is based on treated sounds and it's structured on eleven movements for a total of thirty one minutes. The tracks are various and pass from metallic percussive sounds to over dubbed layers of treated noisy / ambient sounds. Here Koji create a sort of alien landscape where a noisy piano (most of the sounds seem coming from a distorted piano) is its soundtrack. GONDOLA ODISSEY, instead, contains four long tracks based on organ sound layers which change slowly. To appreciate this one you've got to get your senses loose and follow the flow. You'll find yourself into a disturbed state of sleepiness where creepiness grows each minute more. I don't know how Koji could describe it like a "landscapes of romantic voyage" but you know...different people, different tastes. Anyway, these three new works cover a wide range of feelings and sounds and you've got only to pick up the one you prefer most.

PAOLO IPPOLITI: Libera una falena capodoglio intrappolata nella plastica

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 21 2003
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Title: Libera una falena capodoglio intrappolata nella plastica
Format: CD
Label: A la verticale de l'été/S'Agita recordings (@)
One half of Logoplasm and S'Agita Recordings, Paolo Ippoliti has been one of the most active soundmakers which the Italian electronic underground has spawned over the last few years. "Libera una falena...", a solo cd-r released by A la verticale de l'été (a new S'Agita sub-label devoted to Logoplasm's recordings), is a difficult, breath-taking psycho drama originated by personal illness and turmoil. To quote Paolo's own words (the full text accompanies the cdr, and you can find it also in the S'Agita website) "Since sixteen years I give as a present relevant portions of my own existence to waged work, in exchange for the commodities that growing up in this society hypnotized me to perceive as necessary. Since I do not possess any professional nor scholarly skill, since the beginning of all this I had to employ myself in so-defined "heavy jobs", always underpaid and always in difficult conditions : endless shifts, hierarchical mistreatments, faulty and dangerous strucutures. An adequate inspection of my social surroundings always gave back, as in a mirror, existential scenarios similar to my own, and exactly, this represented what i meant to describe in that work : the fatigue and toil, the short breath suffocating psyche, that horrible grey tone outside the window of days to come. I spent all the free time of the following spring weeks with a mini-disc in my pocket, pushing large corrugated metal-sheets, full oil containers, impossible to move metal artefacts of a varied nature, listening to motors droning in the dark, stealing the voices of the ones who told me about their previous, difficult jobs. In the hard attrition and friction that my burning muscles attempting the push caused, the voice of matter seemed syllabled at the only mean of shutting me down; the motor drones like an absurd nausea possessing my stomach ; the glossolalia of those who lived in toil like an horror lullaby. Then, eventually, it all came to a height. In the evening of August 15th, during the thirteenth consecutive hour of one of the longer and most massacrating shifts I seem to remember, suddenly, while production demand exponentially augmented to face the incoming request and flames were burning heavy against my face, my sight blurred. At first I didn't worry - it happened frequently during those summer evenings. Some instants later, my left arm totally disappeared to my perception, and a strange, unbelievable void substituted my chest. In the following fourty minutes I kept working in the most absolute of terrors, feeling that something like a stroke was coming. In spite of that, an overwhelming endorphine shower, maybe an offspring of aforementioned terror, gifted me with an unknown, surreal, mysterious calm. I was moving something I could not feel in a tearful fog - my own body like a robot movie. The day after a doctor diagnosised me with the first and unmistakable signs of a psycho-nevrotic reaction to a too prolonged stress. - You won't fight it by taking a vacation from work - he said - more like, you should change life. The rest of august and following september, as reaper's schytes, almost destroyed my and Laura's life, with a thousand accidents, a thousand misfortunes, a thousand unlucky malfunctionings. Stolen cars, roofs falling down over our heads after violent storms, burnt out processors, needs of a sudden moving. Unable to face the vivid tsunami that tried to swallow us, I retreated into an isolated inner silence, that avoided the motor overwhelming, ignored biographies, refused to push anything on the ground just to remain , once again, short of breath. I worked in a distant wind, and at the end of the shift, when back home, we went out with the dogs in the deserted late night. I stopped at a point and picked up small stones, frail dried red boughs, crystals left behind by ghosts. You can find it residing there, in the tracks that you could listen by inserting this cdr in the player and pressing play. Finally out of the aforetold, I dumped the tracks from minidiscs to computer - and thought about it a day or two. If I can define la tenebra del mero esistere as the sickness, I can also hallucinate into existence, inside the one you have in your player, the cure. I tied it into the last track, the only composed one of all eight, as in a chaos magick rite, with all the whispers, all the little hits, all the little steps, telling you a story as everybody else would have sculpted you a statue, carving away from a single coarse block of infinite possibilities the exceeding matter. You can find the shy gestures of a scared person, and the superposition that the same gestures defined, resulting in the escape route, implicit in the design of the prison since the beginning. I looked outside of my window, and observing better, i could unveil the grey and cobalt blue that seemed to declare an incoming storm as the completely menaceless colour of something that approaches sunset, as natural : black in the horizon you have behind your shoulder, grey just above your head, then blue, light blue, a pale indaco and just a bit of red, on the farthest margin your eyes seems to catch. And some pale cloud, some uncertain flying creature, and the unmistakable sign of a big piece of metal, detached from ground and attrition, fading just as i write". That's a truly lengthy quote but for one time I do think that words are necessary and complementary to sounds. This is the sound of fatigue, collapse, and a new start, with the final sound storm washing everything away.

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