Music Reviews



Staalplaat SoundSystem: Sweet Sissy & the Ballroom Hiss

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 10 2002
Artist: Staalplaat SoundSystem (@)
Title: Sweet Sissy & the Ballroom Hiss
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Coincidentally with Staalplaat headquarters' big move from Amsterdam to Berlin, Staalplaat founder and master of ceremonies Geert-Jan Hobijn releases his very own music after releasing, co-producing or otherwise influencing the work of hundred of artists that appeared on his challenging record factory in the past twenty years. Inspired by the big concert hall of the Centre Vooruit, Staalplaat Soundsystem created a surreal choreographed scenario of dancing and noise-making machines including 12 industrial floor polishers in the middle of the hall and a stage hosting various assorted machinery such as coffee machines, kitchen mixers, matrix printers, saws, four arm turntables, washing machines, refrigerators whose inside are transformed into light and sound installations, the VW bus-shaped toy record players and fm tuner called Vinyl Killers etc.... You can probably think of it as sort of a down-scaled version of a Survival Research Laboratory performance using every day appliances instead. The interesting part here is that all the above mentioned tools and utensils are not only used to create sound but they are also controlled by sound itself. If you can't quite understand how all this is possible it might help to watch the short Quick Time movie prepared by Carlo Crovato included in the cute little 3". The CD opens with an out take that doesn't have the machine sounds and instead has a very soft Dive-like electro-industrial texture, submarine-like sonar/morse sounds, classical music from some movie in the background and speeches of German leaders (mostly in German) about the city of Berlin, the pride of being a Berliner in West Berlin, freedom and the like. The other three tracks deliver the sound of the actual Vooruit installation/performance, backed by orchestral tunes and lots of other bells & whistles.

VV.AA.: Minneapolis Summit

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 08 2002
cover
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Minneapolis Summit
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
"Minneapolis Summit" is the name that was given to the improv session that took place on October 1st 2001 and that saw the participation of local Jon Nelson (aka Escape Mechanism), Steev Hise (Portland, Oregon), Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly, from San Fran, California) and John Heck & Lloyd Dunn (aka The Tape Beatles, from Prague). The peculiarity of this experiment is that the five guys did not plan or rehearse any of this, they just met inside a Minneapolis radio stations and set up the toys they brought along (mainly laptops, samplers, digital players), digitally recording them through an analog board. The outcome is three long songs of which only one is included in this 3" mini CD. 21 minutes of real time cut & paste performances with found sounds, samples, political and non vocal recordings from different sources and people etc etc. A second mini CD and a video CD related to this project will see the light soon as well. In the meantime you may find more info or buy your copy at http://detritus.net/summit

Golan Levin: Dialtones (a Telesymphony)

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 07 2002
cover
Artist: Golan Levin (@)
Title: Dialtones (a Telesymphony)
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
If I was still making music I would have done this myself sooner or later 'cause I always thought about the possibility of creating something musical with today's most widespread and intimate piece of technology of the Western world: the cellular phone.Apparently somebody did it before me and considering that somebody is 29 years old computer whiz Golan Levin, 32 years old sound designer Scott Gibbons from Lilith and sound artist Gregory Shakar, they did it much better than I ever could have done or thought.Anyway the day I never thought would come, the day major phone network providers and manufactures sponsor a Staalplaat record, has arrived: 200 people in the audience, 3 sound designers, 9 additional technicians, 200+ phones, 200 discrete channels of patched audio and a computer system that could trigger the sounds of these portable phones and play new custom-composed ring tones distributed via SMS (one of the many features that the shitty American wireless networks don't provide) before the concert. An audio-video matrix system allowed the creators of this amazing project to individually trigger (call!) these cell phones 8000 times in 30 minutes and at the same time light up the person whose handy is ringing in the audience and project a dot of light on two wide screens, while everything is also reflected by a 36foot/12meters wide mirror diagonally spanning from the stage to the ceiling above the people... A surreal third millennium scenario in which people can explore the sonic possibilities offered by the musical instruments, sort of an un-complete synthesizer, that one in ten people in the world have been half-unconsciously carrying around for the past decade in an ensemble context.Musically we are talking about a carefully choreographed cacophony of cell phone ring tones and dial tones producing everything from polyphonic drones sounding like a cello or a church organ hovering above the audience's ambient noise (coughing, laughing, talking, moving...) to sparkly mellow spatial chords sounding like frogs, birds, crickets or other bugs in the wilderness; from actual and logical electronic music improvised compositions with melodies to the loud cacophony of 60 (the maximum) hand-held devices ringing contemporaneously that you would only wanna be running away from if you were in the same room. Everything in between the two ends of the sonic spectrum is uncharted territory for new creations.The concert consists of three "movements": in the first one the audience's 200 un-amplified phones ring in various configurations; in the second one Scott Gibbons plays a solo on a small number of amplified phones (he prefers Siemens ;-); while in the third section the staff's phones dialogue with the audience's phone like a soloist would with an orchestra. The whole thing was recorded and shot on the 2nd of September 2001 at the big and beautiful Brucknerhaus Auditorium in Linz, Austria (as part of the TAKEOVER: the 2001 Ars Electronica Festival) and then again with a 99-piece audience from May 28th to June 6th at the Arteplage Mobile de Jura in Murten and Biel, Switzerland (jeeez, I can't believe I am Swiss and I missed it!!!). Of course such performance could only take place in Europe, where the GSM network (G for global), as opposed to the lousy CDMA digital network of the States), allows for much greater flexibility and creativity.As an owner of a cell phone I belive you must buy this CD to become aware of the unexplored potential of this modern appliance and to start pushing the envelope yourself, for this could easily become a new musical sub-genre in the coming years (maybe we'll have Dj's and Cj's - cellphone-jockeys!)... The CD comes in a nice digipack with a thick booklet stuffed with information and also has a CD-ROM section with loads of hi quality pictures, four mp3 files, a video of the concert, video interviews with its creators, links to various interesting websites and to the websites of the people involved in this outstanding project and a lot of written technical and philosophical material about the concept. One of the most forward-thinking records of this year! Definitely highly recommended buy!!!For more info check out http://www.telesymphony.com/ and if that doesn't work point your browser to http://www.flong.com/telesymphony.

Smalts: It's Good to be on a well-run Ship

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2002
Artist: Smalts (@)
Title: It's Good to be on a well-run Ship
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Dutch band Smalts formed 20 years ago with a line up that included three members of their original band Minny Pops (whose material will be re-issued on UK LTM label shortly) plus a new drummer and that is still the same line up today. "It's Good to be on a well-run Ship" is a concept album dedicated to the victims of two years ago tragic and controversial disaster of Russian submarine Kursk and their families. The entire CD booklet is written in both English and Russian and comes with pictures of the sub, victims and mourning families. Musically they move between psychedelic electronic and post wave vanguard rock inspired by their former band, the Residents, the Legendary Pink Dots, Velvet Underground, Vadergraaf, Studio Pagol, Pink Floyd, Barry Adamson, Brian Eno and so forth... You'll find apocalyptic atmospheres engraced by ethnical percussions (track 5), introspective pinkish experimental vocal-centered acoustic ballads (1, 3, 13), almost out of context ethno-dub (2), electronic floors with ethnic passages (4, 8, 12), typcally Russian-inspired music with Russian words (6), very modern eastern-flavored electro-acoustic suites (7, 11), modern folk music soaked into electronic music and treated as dub music (9), interesting and challenging blends of blues-inspired funktronics (10). Very variegated and eclectic album with a noble intent and a theme that deserves more attention and more action than what has been done (or better say, not done...).

Dan Burke & Kevin Drumm: Mort Aux Vaches

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2002
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Artist: Dan Burke & Kevin Drumm
Title: Mort Aux Vaches
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
When two experimental veterans like Dan Burke from Illusion Of Safety and Kevin Drumm team up, you know it's gonna be some weird shit! The two have toured together last year and, in the process of doing so, recorded an improvised session at the VPRO radio's studios. The CD envelopes around the almost silent with hard to hear rumbles, hi pitched sibilant glitches and all sort of other analog and digital waveforms, but it also peaks into sheer industrialisms at times with balancing moments that can easily sound like the sound of a battle being fought somewhere, in the distant European fields of WWI and WWII... The record's primary sound sources include a guitar, but you won't hear anything resembling a conventional six string instrument in here. One track, fifty seven minutes.


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