Music Reviews

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.

Jemh Circs: (untitled) Kingdom

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 18 2018
Artist: Jemh Circs
Title: (untitled) Kingdom
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Cellule
Using the cultural appropriation attitudes spearheaded by Negativland and taking pop music and YouTube rips as the (possibly sole) sonic source, and mangling and mashing those sources with the experimental outlook of early Steve Reich tape experiments but using modern tech to pull those sound clips past the bounds of recognisability and far beyond, Marc Richter, as Jemh Circs, offers up twenty-four short, often awkward, sometimes impenetrable noisy soundscapes of short loops pulled into unconventional time signatures, processed found sounds and electronic glitching, many of them shorter than this sentence.

But there’s more musicality at play here than the ‘borrowing from YouTube’ concept may imply. The pitch shifting of choral noises into chord patterns in “(AA)” is well constructed and successful. Perhaps by appropriating string sounds from film soundtracks (I’m speculating there), pieces like “Lac Dali” have their own noisy take on an emotional symphonic atmosphere, while the title track embodies the entire concept quite neatly

There’s a fair share of more sparse and melancholic pieces, but plenty of noisy rough-edged pieces like “20/20” and broken-rhythm-experiment “L.V” to keep you on your toes throughout the 64-minute listen.

It’s a strong concept, well executed, and while the result isn’t necessarily a pleasant listen and you do find yourself wishing that some of the ideas could’ve been fleshed out a little further beyond the three-minute mark (I particularly wanted to hear more of “Metabolismus”), it’s a piece of work worthy of some attention.

Twentytwentyone + DIISSC Orchestra: Split LP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 16 2018
Artist: Twentytwentyone + DIISSC Orchestra
Title: Split LP
Format: LP
Label: Music Information Centre Lithuania
This is a truly split piece of vinyl in two distinct parts, with the commonality being both sides comprise modern experimental electronic music from Lithuanian musicians, but in terms of review, I might as well refer to each side- each with 4 distinct tracks, each track around 5 to 6 minutes long- as independent works that just happen to have been pressed onto the same piece of vinyl.

The first side is laptop quartet Twentytwentyone’s take on Cornelius Cardew’s visual score from 1967 “Treatise”. Working independently, each of the four members recorded elements inspired by different pages of Cardew’s long and sketchy work, which were then layered together in the studio, with each member having the final say on one particular track.

The result is a selection of short electroacoustic-style pieces with a sparse and slightly sci-fi, Radiophonic Workshop-esque flavour full of distant rumbles, incomprehensible soft percussion noises and long tuneful industrial drones. The natural exception to this is the fourth piece, which is decidedly more noise-heavy and has more distinct sections and sharp-edged edits in it, for which reason it stands out a little. Over twenty minutes I’m not convinced that it constitutes a coherent work in its own right but it’s a rich bit of experimentation for sure.

The second side is four independent compositions that occupy a similar sonic space, but without the obligation to interconnection implied on the first side. Vytautas V. Jurgutis’ “Tinohi” is a series of sawtoothed bubbly noises building to near-white-noise cacophony that then transmogrifies into gritty industriaul noise synthesis, that makes the following track by Jonas Jurkunas, with slow organ chords and drones, seem like ambient light relief by comparison. Martynas Bialobzeskis’s “MY DO” is also a drone, but a much grittier affair with low rumbles and some teethy scratching noises. Final piece “exe.rpm” by Antanas Jasenka seems most out of place because it actually has a rhythm, or at least a steady pulse, built out of short-cut samples in unpredictable patterns, over which the squelchy sci-fi noises dance and play- skirting at times towards the sound of electronica gone weird.

It’s an interesting package from Music Information Centre Lithuania, who I’ve previously heard releasing more conventionally-minded pieces of long modern experimental classical music. This however is deep into squelchy electronic rumbles and drones, and while it doesn’t necessarily have any of the “wow” moments that the results of truly eye-opening music experiments can sometimes have, it’s a polished package that will appeal to lovers of electronic avant garde.

Adern X: Summer Twilight Autumn Dawn

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 10 2018
Artist: Adern X
Title: Summer Twilight Autumn Dawn
Format: CD
Label: Xevor
"Summer Twilight Autumn Dawn" is the latest album by sound artist Adern X. Released on a limited edition of 50 CDrs and digitally, the album contains a 40' long composition. Originally composed for a radio broadcast in 2013, the track is soundwise based on three main parts: some loops, some field recordings and layered samples. While the original track was a performance based on the use of a cd player, an iPod and a reel to reel tape recorder, this version has been edited digitally to have a brighter sound and to be able to express better the meaning behind the track. Yeah, but what's the meaning? Let's read directly the words of Andrea: "The score was written after being aware of the sense of a loss at the end of summer; it’s a matter of time: time fading, time coming. Memory is juxtaposed to expectation as the acceptance of time is brought by change.While reworking the audio spectrum and editing the track, I became aware of how memory is essentially an aesthetical rewriting of facts and editing is the grammar of it. So, if history is a description then memory is an interpretation". Listening to the piece you can hear some recurring parts: the field recordings with kids playing, noisy low frequencies, orchestral loops, etc. This is giving the idea of the time passing and the cycle of things and the second time you listen to them, is never as the one before (also because the layers are overlapping in a different pattern every time).

Thembi Soddell: Love Songs

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 10 2018
Artist: Thembi Soddell
Title: Love Songs
Format: CD + Book
Label: Room40
In the world of ChainDLK reviewing, you can be pretty sure that when you’re sent a release called “Love Songs”, it’s not going to be a dozen soppy guitar-pop ballads about lust and affection. And sure enough, this release from Thembi Soddell could hardly be further from meeting that description. Perhaps it’s the same dry sense of humour that means that one of the promo MP3s was embedded with metadata claiming that it’s a track by Janet Jackson...

What it actually is is a series of five building electroacoustic drones and sub-bass rumbles, each starting from a near-silent environment and building, rather slowly and ominously, in amplitude before an abrupt stop that triggers the super-slow build of the following piece. Alien-sounding hums meld with occasional scratches and scrapes that wobble subtly as they approach.

“Who Is To Blame” is notable for being slightly harsher than the other pieces, with some abrupt coloured noise changes and a more unpredictable structure- although the sharpest sudden adjustment comes two minutes into sarcastically-named final track “Sweet Dreams”.

It’s a tightly focussed and boldly realised 33-minute work that can truly be described as avant garde. It’s deceptively un-simple and a little harsh at times, mildly cathartic, and generally pretty strong.

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