Music Reviews



Simon Balestrazzi: Ghost Systems (for Earle Browne)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 18 2016
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Artist: Simon Balestrazzi
Title: Ghost Systems (for Earle Browne)
Format: CD
Label: Azoth
Rated: *****
Earle Browne is one of the key historical figure (together with Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, and John Cage) in the field of aleatoric music and his contribution to music (particularly to New York City downtown scene) has been remarkably relevant. He was not totally against notation, but he rather reinvented it, as you can guess by some of his most famous scores: for instance the notation of "December 1952" was entirely based on a graphical notation of horizontal and vertical bars varying in length and "width" (according to Browne's notes, a bidimensional transcription could be freely interpreted as if it had a third dimension), that should freely interpret by every single performer; the score of his first aleatoric piece, "Twenty-Five Pages", consisted of 25 pages with no particular order and no clefs, so that any performer was completely free to follow its performative rules - any performance resulted in an entirely different composition! - and got inspired, according to Browne's words, by Alexander Calder's kinetic sculptures. Strictly related to the above-mentioned "December 1952", "Four Systems" was one of his latest scores and it (or better, the adaptation for four amplified cymbals by Max Neuhaus on Electronique Et Percussion) was the sparkle for this new output by Simon Balestrazzi. In spite of some resemblances with that rendition (particularly the extreme dilatation of the each single tonal length), it's impossible to refer to this release as a calque due to the aleatoric nature of the composition. The way by which Simon paid homage to Browne's score is strictly connected to his idea of making a release about time and memory. The mnemonic element came from a series of recordings (snippets and deconstructed samples related to the notion of ghosts) to be used as a raw material he held, but the connection with Four Systems score has been explained as follows: "I also used Brown's graphic score in every possible twisted way I could imagine: turned into a sort of stencil, I used it to select the samples, their length and frequencies ranges, to choose and place field recordings from my archives, as a ratio for stretching the samples and as a piano roll score to play them...". Such a combination of Browne's score and aural memories resulted into a collection of seven tracks (each of them lasting between 4 to 21 minutes), whose slow dilutions and expansions sound like a deep sonic pool, where field recordings resurface like forgotten memories and entities before disappearing again. The listening experience he provided is intense and constantly interlacing silence and sound and could plunge the listener into a cryptic journey towards unknown emotional depths.

Sonologyst & Kshatriy: Time is the Enemy

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 18 2016
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Artist: Sonologyst & Kshatriy (@)
Title: Time is the Enemy
Format: Tape
Label: attenuation circuit (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Sonologyst, the project by Raffaele Pezzella based on the development of early electronic experimentation, and Kshatriy, the project by Bulychev Sergey based on drone music, is as traditional as avant-garde. From a musical perspective, it's exactly what's expected: the juxtaposition of drone music and electro-acoustic one but the equilibrium of writing is able to create a dialogue between the two forms which are complementary in nature. While drone music is rooted in stillness, the tradition referred by Sonologyst is based on a sort of perpetual movement and therefore, if it's not trivial, it escapes from the pit of the forms.
"Unaltered Mind" opens this searching a balance between background noises, high pitches and deep drones and evolves altering this equilibrium letting emerge one of their components. "Venus Smile" is based on the juxtaposition of various drones upon a subtle background of small noises. "Self Luminosity" is focused on the dialectic between a drones and the background sounds. The slow development of "Chronopolis" reveal the sense for the details of the composers and "Time is the Enemy" closes with an use of synth and a sense of aural space which reveals a vague reminiscence of kosmische musik.
Another example on how already codified forms could be drown into modernity without any nostalgia but retaining that spirit of adventure into new musical paths. It's really worth a listening.

Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci: Agoraphonia

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 18 2016
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Artist: Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci (@)
Title: Agoraphonia
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Dronarivm is an example of the zeitgeist as it's an example of the rise of the curator. The project by Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci started as an open call for field recordings about the theme of the square seen as a cultural and political landmark. In our tradition the town square is the gravity center of social intercourse while it's now in a disruption phase due to social media and modernity. Another call was done to obtain photos for the artwork, then they filter and place contribution with the objective of creating a coherent picture of the intended meaning.
The first track, "Koutoubia", is based upon the field recordings of Fabio R. Lattuca in Marocco and portrays the life of a town viewed by a fixed position where the voice from an loudspeaker, maybe a politician, is gradually buried by the other voices of the square and a resonance which develops all sounds intro a drone below the voice. "Plaza de Mayo", based upon the field recordings of Ana Maria Romano, after the distant voices of the place results in an evocative soundscape vaguely reminiscent of political implications. "Shantangjie", based upon the field recordings of Luca Bonaccorsi, generates the sense of movement of an emerging economy while "Piazza Umberto I", based upon the field recordings of Davide di Francesco, sounds as a mediation upon the emptying process of small towns distant from a metropolis. "Agoraphonia", which is based upon a bunch of contributions, is a large portrait of the life in a square without the large discussion someone could expect but with the sense of seeing a bunch of people in transit without any connection between them.
It's difficult to determine the real status of an author when there's a so large number of contributors that have done all the big decisions about the sonic material, however here could be found the sense of the role of the curator which is the research of common traits upon differences to underline the vanishing point of modernity. Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci turn out to create a coherent view of modern life in a square, and this is a true political stance, and the listener is guided into a view of the world. A truly recommended release.

Yannis Kyriakides with Slagwerk Den Haag & Silbersee: Lunch Music

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Sep 13 2016
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Artist: Yannis Kyriakides with Slagwerk Den Haag & Silbersee (@)
Title: Lunch Music
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
I won't wonder if the hissing of turntables looping empty traces would come by an old vinyl of the catalogue built by Owen's His Master's Voice in the 60ies, which got notorious for his logo was the famous dog pointing to a gramophone as well as for a plenty of excellent rock'n'roll outputs, including the ones by those Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, whose hit "Shakin' All Over" got quoted by "Shakin'". It's just an element of the sonic stream by which Yannis Kyriakides blended the vocal snippets of another master, William Burroughs, whose masterpiece "The Naked Lunch" was the primary source for inspiration of "Lunch Music." Besides the almost logical attempt of rendering the hallucinatory or just altered states of mind provided in that wisely mad novel - the set of resounding objects, including what a listener could imagine as the tired clacking of a typewriter by an entirely drunk writer in the attempt of completing his last poem of his spiritual testament in the opening track "smell down death", literally plead the cause -, Yannis focused on one of the most interesting aspect of that novel, that is polyphony. Polyphony, fostered by emulated drug abuse and vividly known by Burroughs that flattened out into a monologue, where the web of the signifier and the signified got somehow melted or wholly unmatched all over the different parts of Naked Lunch. Yannis and his collaborators - the inventive percussionist Slagwerk Den Haag, who commissioned the piece for the same named dance/music theatre piece, and Silbersee, the ensemble focused on contemporary vocal music and its possible connections and intersections with other forms of art - seem to have caught the beauty of Burroughs' output and managed to feed that stream by means of trippy agglomerates of live electronics, sometimes disorientating modulated voices, feverish hits, fragmented percussions and samples melodies (some of them seem to cast hallucinations in between Mexico, one of the critical stages all over the world of Burroughs' trips, and the borderline side of that insane melting pot of American society, which never had mouth before Burroughs' literary raving) in a crazy and appropriately polyphonic whirlpool of resounding entities and meanings. Burroughs' fans will surely appreciate this release.

Column One: Boiling Pool

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 11 2016
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Artist: Column One (@)
Title: Boiling Pool
Format: 12"
Label: 90% Wasser (@)
Rated: *****
As stated in the liner notes, this new release from Column One "consists of 953 fragments, 722 situations, 952 interruptions & countless sources, intensions & beings" and, while it's not completely original the idea of underline the modular nature of writing, this historic collective takes the concept on a new level. Instead of doing a condensed version of their discography, they create an entire new opus with a sort of self-plunderphonia or a new joke for the listener.
The first side of this release, "Pooling", is a frenetic cut-up where voices are used to unify samples of drums, saxophones, field recording and quiet moments with long fragments relaxes the rapid succession of sources, mostly resulting in a deliberate mockery of the expectation of the listener and are even able to laugh it off. The second side, "Boiling", is instead more experimental and results in a sort of reflection on the nature of juxtaposition as they tied parts where they explore meditative moments with drones and resonance with parts of impressive movement.
When phrases as "so we need to do another soundcheck with you again" recur on both sides of this vinyl and mark precise moments in the development of this release, the Burroughs' quote assumes a precise meaning for this release. Compressing elements from a time period of 45 years is a result of a concern about writing and time: something that was discarded years ago, it's suitable to the musical content now and therefore what is written is not separable from when it's done as what's used is tied to what's said. When a record is able to raise this questions, there's only one critical judgement: masterpiece.


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