Music Reviews



Ernesto Diaz-Infante: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 20 2003
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Artist: Ernesto Diaz-Infante (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Pax recordings (@)
Distributor: Verge Music
I usually don't like to copy the description given by the artist/label/promoter, but in this case it's almost a must, not only because it is a correct and fair as opposed to an artsy-fartsy, exaggerated and hyped description, but also because the description is at least as creative as the music itself: «experimental, lowercase improv, noise, electronic, out-rock, 21st century compositions, sonic art, found sounds, gritty-clicky scratches, tense filmic passages, unnerving silence, avant folk-like outsider songs, audio errata»! ;-) Ernesto Diaz-Infante, California-born San Fran resident and very active in the local as well as the international experimental music scene (awarded residencies at Nice's, France, Centre International de Recherche Musicale and Villa Arson and at the Millay Colony for Arts, Centrum, Villa Montalvo, the New York Mills Arts Retreat, the Ucross Foundation and the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony) is one of those trained experimenting and challenging music freaks/scientists with cultural and academic background including degrees at the Santa Barbara University College of Creative Studies and the Institute of the Arts. Reading all of this on his bio, came as no surprise to me after listening to his record for a couple of times. The music he proposes is fragmented and radical but is wrapped by a certain intellectual veil. Over 15 CDs populate his discography, sporting various collaborations and contributions, but this self-titled CD is his 5th solo work and I read that it is his most diverse yet. Inspired by, presumingly, the musique concrete school as well as by the uncompromising Mittle-European experimental scene of labels such as Staalplaat and by the noise-collage movement that has been steadily growing in North-America and Canada, Ernesto Diaz-Infante picks his brains to shape the record in a uniquely eclectic way. His instrumentation includes an array of found sounds, field recordings, string instruments, percussive instruments, electronic and electric instruments and, as outcast as it may seem, a quite heavy use of vocals. If experimental music isn't your cup of tea stay away from this 'cause you might get bored or nervous easily but if you don't mind to be challenged and if you can take the heat dive into a world of new sonic concepts and gentle cross-breeding audio mutations. Just be open-minded when you do.

KOJI ASANO: Suite for Organ and Recorders No.1

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 15 2003
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Suite for Organ and Recorders No.1
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Each time it's a surprise to guess what you can find into a Koji Asano's full lenght and this time he surprised me a lot. He forgot for a moment the sounds treatment based on hisses and noises and brought us a long suite for organ and recorders(soprano, alto, tenor and base recorder). The suite is divided in ten different parts and was recorded at the Church in Amsterdam on summer 2002. It is based on parts played unically by blow instruments and looking at the way it's structured it seems to be the representation of a living body. You can hear it moving. It's seems to hear it running, then stopping to take breath and then agonizing. You wait for its final breath that seems it's never coming. This is in my humble opinion the most successful work recorded by Asano. I've got also to mention that on this work he had Auymi Matsuda (recorders) and Isao Otake (organ) as guest musicians.

Alvin Lucier: Vespers and Other Early Works

 Posted by Chris DeLaurenti   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 14 2003
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Artist: Alvin Lucier
Title: Vespers and Other Early Works
Format: CD
Label: New World Records
Distributor: New World Records
One side effect of making a landmark piece is that earlier work may be overlooked or remain obscure. Chiefly known for the breathtakingly reductive "I Am Sitting in a Room" (1971), Alvin Lucier has been exploring the frontiers where music and space meet for over four decades. Although Lucier's work is available on labels like Lovely, Cramps, and even Elektra (anyone remember the "Imaginary Landscapes" compilation?) early works like "North American Time Capsule" (1967) and "Vespers" (1969) lurked on expensive, out of print LPs. Released on the well-distributed New World Records label, "Vespers and Other Early Works" features five works that underscore Lucier's deceptively simple and ingenious use of sound, space, and technology. Even without knowing Lucier's ideas behind the pieces, this disc serves a rich sonic feast. "Vespers," originally released on Time/Mainstream Records, starts off with what sounds like the distant clack of billiard balls. The clacking multiplies and soon incessant shifts in tone, density, and location suggest an unsettling, alien telemetry. What is really happening is that the performers are using Sondols - echolocation devices that emit a beep. In performance, the performers find there way through the space in the dark using the Sondols (short for Sonar-dolphins) to converge on a central location. In Elliott Schwartz' book Electronic Music (Prager, 1975, 2nd edition), Lucier writes "With enough practice and discriminating hearing, human beings can learn to use the echoes of Sondol-generated pulsed sounds to measure distances, avoid obstacles and make acoustical signatures of reverberant environments." (p. 239). About the title Lucier comments, "...Vespers was chosen for the dual purpose of suggesting the dark ceremony and sanctifying atmosphere of the evening service of the Catholic religion [sic] and to pay homage to the common bat of North America of the family Vespertilionidae." (ibid, p. 240) Equally mysterious is "Elegy for Albert Anastasia" (1961-63). Created at the Studio Fonologica in Milan, Italy and subsequently remixed at Brandeis University, this tape piece consists of low tones moaning and rumbling at the threshold of hearing. Unlike the quick transitions and mid-range tessitura common to similarly contemporaneous electro-acoustic music, the looming quality of these slow, brooding, bass sounds is refreshing. Originally released on "Extended Voices," a CBS Odyssey Music of Our Time LP, "North American Time Capsule" processes speech, music, and who knows what else with the Sylvania Vocoder. The term is short for "Voice Encoder" originally invented to electronically encrypt and transmit speech signals. The result is an encyclopedia on how to use a Vocoder: susurrant, zippering whispers, oboe-like utterances, and other timbral turbulence makes this piece a delight. Although created in 1968 and 1970, the two other pieces on the disc "Chambers" and "(Middletown) Memory Space" were realized and recorded in the last two years. "Chambers" packages various location recordings into assorted packages. The sounds are modified by these packages, which to my ears sound like vases or other glass containers. For "(Middletown) Memory Space" Lucier asks the performers to annotate and then recreate the sounds of a city (whose name is inserted in the parenthesis and becomes part of the title). Both are alluring, delicate, intriguing works that merit repeated listens.

Iannis Xenakis: Eonta

 Posted by Chris DeLaurenti   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 14 2003
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Artist: Iannis Xenakis
Title: Eonta
Format: CD
Label: Chant du Monde
Distributor: Harmonia Mundi
Those wanting to investigate the startling sonic galaxies of Iannis Xenakis must navigate a constellation of releases on dozens of small and smaller labels. Where, then to begin? Here. Chant du Monde has reissued a superb out of print recording of Xenakis' early chamber and orchestral music: "Eonta"," Pithoprakta" and his breakthrough piece of 1955, "Metastasis," conducted by its dedicatee, Maurice Le Roux. These three works are essential Xenakis: the terrifying banshee brass of "Eonta" (with longtime Xenakis champion Yuji Takahashi on piano), the layered strings (each of the 61 string players have their own part) of "Metastasis," and "Pithoprakta," whose ferocious eruptions can still - after forty-seven years - teach (or inspire?) makers of Black Metal a thing or two. Along with the indispensable CD "Electronic Music" on EMF, this disc is the place to start with Xenakis. One reservation: given the CD's short (39 minutes) running time, this should have been a mid- not full-price reissue, but it's worth it nonetheless. Recorded in 1965, there is some hiss, but overall the sound is fine.

EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN: 9-15-2000 Brussels

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 05 2003
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Artist: EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN
Title: 9-15-2000 Brussels
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Indigo (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe


BUY from  BUY NOW from MUSIC NON STOP (MusicNonStop.co.uk)
I have never been an Einsturzende fan in the past, I knew them because of my brother which collected their early releases until "Halber Mensch". Anyway, I had the chance to see them live around 1987 and it has been a pleasantly shock. Their power and the sound were hypnotising and they almost made the stage collaps thanks to their pneumatic hammers: really impressive. Since then I never listened to one of their releases. There was no particular reason but I wasn't interested enough, maybe. I don't really know but it's not that important. This 2 CD digipak set features twenty two tracks coming from a live concert they did in Brussels back in September 2000. Including, among the others, are: "Silence Is Sexy" (from "Silence Is Sexy" 2000), "NNNAAAMMM" (from "Ende Neu" 1996), "Zebulan" (from "Tabla Rasa" 1993), "Salamandrina" (from "Interim" 1993) and the beautiful "Yu Gung" (from "1/2 Mensch" 1985). As I was expecting the Neubauten I saw are no more. The chaotic metallic structure has been replaced by a semi structured song based on dark atmospheres. It's like they replaced the noise searching for a quieter sound but trying to get the same result. I prefer tracks like "Yu Gung" and "Ende Neu" for their direct approach but also the others are particular and fascinating. In any case a thing is for sure: there are no other bands that sound like Einsturzende Neubauten. The "collapsing new buildings" are also collecting subscriptions to release their next album with the aid of their fans only. Go to their website for further informations. Notice that if you like in USA you don't have to look for this album as an import because Invisible Records just released it. Enjoy...


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