Friday, June 5, 2020

Music Reviews

Artist: Christian Kobi
Title: Cathedral
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Buh Records
Cathedral is a single 34-minute experimental piece comprised solely of solo saxophone and prominant feedback from Swiss-based Christian Kobi that will put off many listeners within the first five minutes thanks to the early squealing, shrieking sounds that jars right through your teeth. If you can’t stand the sound of nails down a blackboard, you’ll be reaching for the playback stop button very quickly. And that would be a shame, because if you’re willing to hold out until (or skip to) around the six minute mark, things settle down somewhat and the lower, slower textures of the sax begin to shine through. By the twelve minute mark, it’s positively sedentary, beautifully recorded to show the expressive husky reverberence of a saxophone in extreme close-up detail.

A second lease of life comes halfway through, with the sax jumping from almost trad-sounding jazz, to more squealing and dog-frustrating sounds (don’t say I didn’t warn you), down to lowest-register drone hums, in fairly quick order.

It was recorded in 2019 in the former Swisscom high-bay warehouse- “probably the largest underground space in Berne”- and officially it’s the last part in a trilogy, after releases in 2010 and 2013. I haven’t heard those other two releases though so can’t comment on its effectiveness as a triptych. However I would say that 34 minutes seems just about right for the concept, and it neither overstays nor understays its welcome.

In old-fashioned avantgarde fashion it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, to put it mildly, but if you have the high tolerance required to get past the initial gateway, it’s certainly worth delving into for half an hour.

Artist: t. r. hand & The Glove of Bones
Title: The Fifth Sun
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Submarine Broadcasting Company

BUY from  HERE
This new 5 track EP from Adrian Nicholls' project Glove Of Bones is a tricky melange of samples, basslines, dubby lo-fi hip hop beats, structured ambience and concept.
The semi-naive colourful cover art indicates the surprisingly optimistic mood in midst the chaos of changes related to the year of the rat (as per the Chinese zodiac) as in "Hip Metal Rat", the Age of Aquarius and Aztec Myths on the circles of creation and recreation, hence the title track "Fifth Sun".
The current turmoil of events leaves no one entirely unaffected and here The Glove Of Bones with the aid of t.r. hand or vica versa steer through the waves of changes showing love, care, passion and the will to find the positive aspects and possibilities. Detailed soundwork, well crafted rhythm constructions and layers of well used samples without getting lost in the abstract.

I currently hardly make a day without listening to this at least once (26 Minutes total length is not too long here), especially as the concluding track "Cusp" tops it off with a beautiful hypnotic sequence paired with a women narrator and an unusual delayed upbeat which qualifies to me as one of the highlights of this year.

Artist: VV.AA.
Title: YuyYu x Infinite Machine
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
This various artists set is a collaboration between Mexican club night YuYu, and the very reliable Infinite Machine label. It serves several purposes, including to showcase the health and quality of the club and electronic scene acrossMexico, and also act as a fundraiser for the people whose livelihood is in trouble whilst that club scene is closed thanks to coronavirus.

After kicking off in purposeful fashion with the chanting techno of Er Irreal Veintiuno’s “Demagogia”, it quickly twists towards the darker, more sinister electronic sounds I associate with Infinite Machine. I can’t imagine any dancefloors throbbing to the awkward time signature and metallic pulses of Turning Turso’s “Los Dos”, but as a piece of home-listening EDM (and isn’t every piece of music home-listening music at the moment?), it’s got some excellent detailing. A throbbing, sub-bass-heavy techno with above-average rhythm complexity is the home ground here, though Tomas Urquieta’s “Midake”, Undefined Pattern’s “En Contra” and more.

It’s cleverly sequenced. Benfika’s “Torrente” contrasts nicely its plinky, trap-like top end with gutpunching and aggressive rhythms. In turn this plays well against AAAA (not Jimmy Cauty)’s initially lighter and breaksier “Phased Flashing On A Building”, and Microhm’s beautiful and trancey “Kyoke”.

Within the broad umbrella of EDM, it’s generally very consistent in vision, with no real odd-ones-out. It’s dominated by instrumentals so Camila Fuchs’ “Settle Down”, with its “oh it scares me” refrain that’s somewhere inbetween Siouxsie, Yoko Ono and Bjork, comes as a bit of a surprise- but generally, the surprises are few.

Other highlights include OMAAR’s deceptively simple but effective house-acid crossover “Sabe”, the skittish, glitchy “Leitmotiv” from CNDSD, and the nicely meaty brooding progressive of Nico’s “Walk”.

Like most compilations, there’s a sense of a large buffet rather than a full meal. With the majority of these tracks under five minutes, there are points where you’re left wanting more, forced to resort to Googling whether those artists have got full albums out. But there isn’t a single duff one in the pack, and ambitious and very open-minded DJ’s will find a lot to work with (or at least to practice with, at the moment) in this pack.

Artist: Alex White
Title: Transductions
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Room40
Alex White works predominantly with electronic music, but Transductions is based almost wholly around a disklavier- a MIDI-controllable yet acoustic (and seemingly extremely expensive) piano- which is being driven through programmatic or machine-output patterns. Consequently, the result sounds like the work of a classical pianist who’s going a little bit mad.

The variation comes from differing levels of chaos. “Slow Descent Of Wooden Window”, despite its name, is one of the noisiest and least obviously structured pieces, while “Cheekbone Against Window Of Train” is calmer and more solemn, evocatively reproducing those senses of travel and the slow travel on raindrops on glass.

Each track title describes a transfer of energy, yet I have to say that overall, the feeling is more sedate than energetic. Even shorter more active pieces such as “Bicycle Rear Wheel Lateral Movement”, thanks to their enchanting and slightly fragile acoustic sound, have an effect that’s a little like listening to a waterfall- while it’s a wall of seemingly unmanaged noise, it flows in such a way that it feels like a single natural texture.

Despite the unique methodology behind it, the only criticism I feel inclined to level at this release is that it sounds much like the simple work of an experimental pianist, sketching textures with their fingers alone, and if you hadn’t read the accompanying blurb to tell you how it was generated, you wouldn’t realise how it had been formed. But nevertheless it’s a rich avantgarde piano work that’s worthy of attention.

Artist: Quivver
Title: Forest Moon EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Univack
I was a little surprised when the name Quivver popped up in my inbox, as it’s a name I associate positively with some of the best examples of the 90’s-to-noughties progressive house sound, with some classic originals and remixes- but I’d fail to realise that Quivver had never really stopped releasing ever since. I was doubly surprised because until now I didn’t realise that John Graham, whose album “Cold Sun” is a highlight of the last few years for me, was even the same guy. So I was taken to school about this before it had even begun.

Under the Quivver alias everything does appear to be business as usual though, which is good news. The original of “Forest Moon” is a steady bit of prog house with the familiar recipe of light-and-crisp four beats, fluffy sci-fi effects and long, emotive chords- in this case somewhat on the cold and thoughtful side. In dance music terms, this is walking pace material, but it’s dreamy.

The Dmitry Molosh remix of the title track is a fairly subtle rearrangement, with the obligatory remixer’s changes of percussion and structure, including a bolder breakdown towards the end, but ultimately not changing the vibe of the original very much. The ‘B-side’ (in old money) is an Integral Bread remix of “8 Bit Eclipse” which rolls with a lovely rumbling bass tone and some nicely sci-fi bleeps that hark back a little to Graham’s other old alias Space Manoeuvres a little.

There’s nothing revolutionary here, to put it mildly- this is very much business-as-usual for an artist who releases on labels like Bedrock- but the quality is undeniable. You know what you’re going to get from this, and you can buy with confidence rather than curiosity.


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