Music Reviews



Jos Smolders: Music for Kalx.com

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 28 2002
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Artist: Jos Smolders (@)
Title: Music for Kalx.com
Format: CD
Label: ERS
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
When you are listening at one third of the full volume of your system and your subwoofer starts violently and drastically vibrating one inch in and out of its normal position with a never before seen intensity so that you can actually hear the physical sound of the vibration much more than anything else in the room and the music itself, it's pretty scary! It happen to me with this record and I must say it never happened before... I don't know if he finds pleasure in experiment with inaudible sub sub sub frequencies that nobody will hear or if it was just something was missed when mixing or mastering the record, but it sure got me worried for a second (especially because at the beginning I wasn't sure why I was hearing sound form under my desk rather than from my speakers). But considering that Jos Smolders is an internationally acclaimed artist with a huge experience in sound manipulation and experimentation, I'd assume he knew what he was doing and is probably amusing himself knowing that he got me worried about my brand new sound system ;-)Presented in a ingenious, beautiful and classy hand-shaped cardboard wallet sleeve, Jos Smolders's new record "Music for Kalx.com" is entirely based on sine waves and therefore inevitably sounds like a collection of minimal drone electronics. So expect long experimental pieces with deep rumbling sounds, layers of harmonics fading in and out and subtle changes... Even though there is no sound in space this is a perfect soundtrack for one of those almost silent classic space movies from the seventies and eighties (I am thinking "2001: Odyssey in Space" now...). Jos Smolders has been doing his thing since the early eighties alone (as IOSS) and with Kapotte Muziex and Goem members Roel Meelkop and Peter Duimelinks (as THU20). I am not sure what exactly Kalx.com is and if it is related to Smolders. The website has lots of modern art and computer graphics with a political soul that sometimes is more explicit than other times.

I: WOUND: --

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 25 2002
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Artist: I: WOUND (@)
Title: --
Format: CD
Label: Verato Project/Suggestion Records
This is a CD-R limited to 50 copies, issued in the Verato Project series (other cds by Ovum, Eeyow Karoom - see archives -, Bernd Spring etc.) in november 2001 - I'm partly guilty of the delay in reviewing, apologies. I: Wound is a German sound artist who has worked for previous releases with ethnic field recordings, mainly from India. This concept release couldn't be more different: a 75' "soundscape of footage news on the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks", that's it, 9-11 all the way. Recorded on the very same day and mixed two days later, the tracks are divided into two main sections, "The southern tower" and "The northern tower", and are basically overlayed recordings from live sounds, tv broadcasts, etc. If anything, it gives an idea of the confusion and the panic following the attacks, but also - and this is probably a fruit of the year which has passed - a portrait of the sickening media/political celebration of civilian death, the enormous quantity of words shed for a terrorist attack against the holy temple of democracy, while there are hundreds of un-filmed and "secondary" wars all over the world no one ever talks about (let alone asking justice or reparation for them). Slavoj Zizek writes in the liner notes: "the ultimate truth of the capitalist utilitarian de-spiritualized universe is the de-materialization of the 'real life' itself, its reversal into a spectral show". I think it sums it up quite well.

Paolo Di Cioccio: I Sing the Voice Electric - Theremin Recital

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 24 2002
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Artist: Paolo Di Cioccio
Title: I Sing the Voice Electric - Theremin Recital
Format: CD
Label: Videoradio (@)
After "Logos" on Musica Maxima Magnetica records (cmp review on these pages) I find myself reviewing another Paolo Di Cioccio album that this times takes a more radical turn in a direction of experimental electronic and Theremin purism. Although the album "I Sing the Voice Electric - Theremin Recital" also features oboe and various electronic modulation in the form of synthesizers and processors, it is obviously a record focused around that beautiful Russian instrument called Theremin. For those who are unfamiliar with it, think of it as an electro-magnetic device with two antennas that produces sounds according to the position of the performer's hands in the air (they never actually touch the instrument). Di Ciccio's latest Theremin extravaganza has all the bells and whistles of a Theremin recital, from the classical vibrato sound that will reminisce you of old American UFO and sci-fi movies from the fifties to new experiments in unconventional sound design, from minimalist isolationism to ambience audiophilism. Although I like experimental avantgarde music I must say I definitely prefer Paolo's more "musical" side ("Logos" being a great example of his skills), even though I recognize the artistic value of a work that calls for a "new sound world" (like the CD's Italian-only liner notes by the author explain) and I value his effort in combining his new approach to the art of sound with his profound knowledge of music.The CD cover has an illustration of the Twin Towers called "The Giants" (by Tonino Caputo), but the CD makes no further reference to NYC or any of last year's events.

[The User]: Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 17 2002
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Artist: [The User] (@)
Title: Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers
Format: CD
Label: Asphodel (www.asphodel.com) + Staalplaat (www.staalplaat.com)
Oops, Architect Thomas Mcintosh and sound artist, composer, multi-media person Emmanuel Madan did it again! After the Montreal duo took over an old grain elevator last year, mic-ed it and broadcasted its sounds creating a buzz in the international press and critics, they are back with another by-product of their fervid creative imagination. "Symphony #1 for Dot Matrix Printers", [The User]'s 3" on Staalplaat recordings, was reviewed by Chain D.L.K.'s contributor Fabrizio "Fa" Cristallo about two years ago (maybe less), but now "Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers" sees the light as a full lenght CD released by Staalplaat in Europe and by Asphodel in North America.The genius idea behind this project was to feed fourteen old crappy dot-matrix printers (Juki, Epson, Panasonic, Raven, Star Micronics Gemini, Fujitsu and Citizen) some ASCII code that would make them produce different sounds, and coordinate those sounds via custom written ASCII files transmitted through a custom serial protocol to early nineties personal computers orchestrated by a similarly obsolete file server.The genius of course is also to be found in the political statement of re-appropriating office machinery for purposes of cultural production, or of taking a modern-day ruin and turning it into an instrument of sound, like they did with the above-mentioned "Silophone" project. Not to mention the political statement that their name alone is, remarking how today's technocratic society employs the term 'user' to objectify and 咬educe individuality to an abstract and generic ideal. This reduction is employed wherever abstract rational methodology is applied to situations involving real people. Once this reduction is made, it becomes much easier to treat the faceless, formless 'user' in an inhuman fashion. In our society we employ the impersonal term 'user' to justify the infliction of neon lighting, plastic cutlery and Muzak on a huge majority of our population? How about that?The CD (at least when bought from Staalplaat, I am not sure about Asphodel) comes inside an old 5-1/4" disc and does not contain any sound sources other than the actual printers, whose execution is partly automated, partly improvised live. The sound is great in its variety and its complexity, unveiling multiple shades of sounds ranging from the classical rhythmical dot-matrix moving head printing (whose movement is intelligently and trustfully recorded with two mics to preserve the great hi-fidelity stereo image, going from one side to the other) that serves as a beat, to the hum of the machines (serving as a background), to other low drones (that I personally have never heard my old printer do), to shorter sounds (acting like punctuating ambient experimental textures and sophisticated musical apparel).For those of you who just don't get it and want to pretend to forget your narrow-minded stupidity with booty-shaking music, or for those of you who do indeed get it but wouldn't mind some of that booty-shaking stuff yourself, you may wanna check out the LP version of this, as it does come with [the User]'s very own interpretation of booty-shaking edits. Unfortunately I myself haven't had the pleasure to hear their version of booty-shaking, but I trust it to be interesting and challenging enough, and won't comment any further.These are the new minds that music needs to get out of the stagnating and molding situation. These experiments are the true essence of experimental music. I don't have a problem with noise, but my day would be a lot more exciting if more people would go beyond pointless noise and use their creativity to challenge themselves and others, break boundaries and push the envelope! This is fantastic stuff!

Thomas DiMuzio: Mono::Poly

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 17 2002
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Artist: Thomas DiMuzio
Title: Mono::Poly
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Asphodel (@)
Distributor: Gench
Tom di Muzio has been keeping him self busy since the late eighties, so it is almost normal that after twenty years of releases from long-time noise label RRR, the Legendary House of Misanthropy and ReR Megacorp records, he would come up with some sort of an all-star game of experimental players. Asphodel and Gench Music (sadly, I believe, a BMI branch) could not let the opportunity to release such collaborative effort pass by, so now we have a double CD, where the first disc ("Mono") is diMuzio just by himself, while the second one (dah, "Poly"!) is him with all of the following: his partner Chris Cutler (ex-Henry Cow drummer and owner of ReR Megacorp) , Nick Didkovsky, Dj Qbert, the great Fred Frith, Anna Homler, the quasi-historical Illusion of Safety, Scot Jenerik, Kadet Kuhne, Yasuhiro Otani, Radiosonde, Solid Eye, Atau Tanaka, the challenging Wobbly, the Jet Black Hair People and Zipperspy. Most songs have been recorded in different locations of the states of California and New York, which is something you might expect from the "Poly" disc but which is also true for the "Mono" disc. No matter what they might tell you, this is a record of pure experimental audio material, yes electro-acoustic, yes noise, yes avantgarde, yes musique concrete, yes ambient, yes electronic, but mainly experimental, like, for example, most of Staaplaat or Soleilmoon releases, only here just instruments (no vocals) creating aleatory soundscapes, extensive auditory illusions, screeching ethereal climaxes, droning and rumbling ambient music and floors of textures and stretching sounds.


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