Music Reviews

Felix Blume: Death in Haiti: Funeral Brass Bands & Sounds from Port au Prince

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 25 2018
Artist: Felix Blume
Title: Death in Haiti: Funeral Brass Bands & Sounds from Port au Prince
Format: LP
Label: Discrepant
Funerals and memorials in Haiti are certainly handled in a very different way to how I’m used to as a Brit. Every emotion is clearly worn more openly on the sleeve- both the grieving and the happy memories- and a collection of layered field recordings from a variety of Haitian funeral processions, services and wakes is an extremely emotive experience, but not all of it sad.

The album is built around six live recordings of brass band processions- some of them bright and celebratory, others more conventionally funereal, some quite jazzy. In keeping with the idea that Haitians put more effort into making a remembrance service a more jovial event, some of it is actually good fun.

But it has to be pointed out that there’s lengthy agonised and uncontrolled screaming and wailing here, and some of it is quite rightly difficult to listen to. There are elements more recognisable to Western Europeans- hymnal chanting and spoken-word eulogy snippets. A carnival album, this is not, and the layering up of some of the brass band performances with the gut-wrenching howling of mourning family members is truly macabre and unsettling to my stoic traditions.

The sound recording quality is fantastic- everything has the atmosphere of a crowd underpinning it, but the sonic quality of some of the solo saxophone work is studio-quality and very impressive. It’s a well-produced and nicely constructed work. But unless you’re actively seeking the sound of genuine bitter-sweet grief, whether for entertainment or your own personal catharsis, I’m not sure you’re going to enjoy it, nor should you.

Guillermo Pizarro: Three

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 24 2018
Artist: Guillermo Pizarro (@)
Title: Three
Format: Tape
Label: Flag Day Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
This is a score for a short film that is making the rounds at several festivals across the country. I have had the joy of seeing Guillermo perform live one time and he puts on a very dramatic disturbing show. I didn’t expect anything less from a film score produced by him. This tape has an excellent disturbing feel to it which I’m sure lends an overwhelming feeling to the film. Guillermo is one of those artists to keep an eye on in the future and he is putting an equal amount of time and detail into his label Flag Day Recordings. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys noise or cinematic music, in general, to check out his music as well as his label.

Plaster: Transition

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 21 2018
Artist: Plaster (@)
Title: Transition
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Fourth album of this formerly bicephalous project (it was founded in 2008 by Gianclaudio Hashem 'Kaeba' Moniri and Giuseppe 'Agan' Carlini) on Kvitnu and the second one after one of the two heads fell down (Giuseppe left the project for a personal break in 2014 just before Plaster's release of 'Mainstream' in 2015), 'Transition' features a remarkably rougher sound than the above-mentioned predecessor, as Gianclaudio preferred that kind of approach that is closer to one of many electronic performers, who really improvise on live stage. In the author's own words, 'Transition' "comes from a different perspective of Plaster's past works in terms of emotions and sounds. My aim was to reduce the amount of complexity in order to maintain the tracks simple but effective. I wanted to be close to the people in daily life. Most of the tracks are pure improvisations using analog synths and hardware, there's no additional editing or post-production adopting the way of thinking 'Less Is More'." All tracks don't feature programmed beats or drums, but they are mostly based on masterfully distorted synth-line and overlapping distorted tones, but Gianclaudio manages to turn these swirling sonorities into something that often pierce listener's soul and ears than many percussive tracks. Many tracks (such as the splashy light distortions of "Unregistered Product", the smothered saturations of 'The Last Goodbye' or the slowly spooky synth-stabs of 'Caress From The Unknown') could resemble the ones that some known old foxes of Rome techno scene (D'Arcangelo brothers or Lorenzo D'Angelo, better known as Lory D) tried to explore by seducing the glorious Rephlex as well as many listeners, but they aren't isolated experiments, but are cohesive parts of a sort of narrative sonic flow, whose "skinniest" moments ("The Climbers", "Disconnected Heart" or the final "Children On The Cliff") are paradoxically the more significant moments...

Arovane + Porya Hatami: Organism_evolution

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 21 2018
Artist: Arovane + Porya Hatami
Title: Organism_evolution
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Karlrecords
I reviewed “Organism” last year, and “Organism_evolution” is essentially more of the same. The exchanging-sounds-by-post process continues between Berlin-based Uwe Zahn and Iranian Porya Hatami continues in much the same way, resulting in a collection of 23 short soundscape pieces of electroacoustic noises, organic-sounding burbling and gurgling, gentle clicking, processed found sounds, and soft windy drones, pads and echoes. The alien-womb-like theme of the previous release continues.

There are a lot of short ideas here, many only lasting a minute, at times being reminiscent of Radiophonic Workshop experiments in sound which were regarded more like sound effects than music, evidenced in pieces like “Creature_517”. “Stimuli” is a prime example of a short environmental piece, event-free as a self-contained atmosphere. Longer pieces like “mata_evolve” allow more breathing space and show how exquisite some of this ambient soundscaping can be when allowed to spread and allow the mesmeric properties to come forward.

“Nucleotide” is an anachronistic piece, dismissing the organic components in favour of electronic arcing and feedback that sounds like it could be a single layer from a Cabaret Voltaire track.

If you loved “Organism”, you’ll appreciate the second chapter in the experimental collaboration, although whether it moves anything forward compared to the first installment may be debatable. And if you like the sound of this in principle, dip in at any point in the process- form and order isn’t the order of the day here.

Big Bold Back Bone: Emerge

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 18 2018
Artist: Big Bold Back Bone (@)
Title: Emerge
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
The idea that a record can be the anti-epos of another one is quite fascinating and interesting. According to the description by the artists-run Wide Ear label, "Emerge" could be considered so against its musical twin "In Search Of The Emerging Species" (released by Portuguese label Shhpuma). Both of them got recorded in the same studio session in Lisbon and they last the same time (approximately 43 minutes), even if the latter featured only one immersive track (titled "Immerse"), while "Emerge"'s length has been split into seven shorter tracks. I only listened to some parts of "In Search Of The Emerging Species", and to be honest, the approach to the sound of "Emerge" sounds quite similar to me, in spite of the above mentioned differences. Both of them have been filled by drone-like sonic streams, roughly structured and performed in a way that could let you think the four members of Big Bold Back Bone (Marco von Orelli on trumpet and slide trumpet, Sheldon Suter on prepared drums, Luis Lopes on electric guitar and other objects, and Travassos on electronics) never played their instruments before, as if they were mysterious artifacts they found on the bottom of the depths they explored during their search for emerging species. The amalgamation they made often sounds like an easy debriding of fibrous tissues, where just some instrumental elements seem to have been completely resurfaced (Marco's trumpet on "Silent Stream" or "Tidings" or some shell-like percussions on "Sealust"). Electronics and percussions sometimes evoke the removal of water or air infiltration of some submarine vehicle after an immersion and can mirror other mysterious technical maintenance following an immersion and any related issue. If you consider this record in this way, you can also explain the reason why the last track "Ground Found" is the one which sounds more vaguely musical of this gradual surfacing.

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