Reviews: 5/2004

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>>> Key

  • . Frozen In Time (10 Below)
  • . . On Thin Ice (Playable)
  • . . . Icebreaker (Solid)
  • . . . . Sonic Ice (Repeat)
  • . . . . .Avalanche (Classic)

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  • THE HAFLER TRIO :: The Sea Org
  • CD: Korm Plastics
  • . . . . .

    704 image 2 :: This is a super sized, invigorated revision to the original 1987 10″ release, originally on Touch. This version painstakingly reproduced and beefed up by the offices of Korm Plastics (aka Frans de Waard) is truly a sight to behold, and worth every last one of those euros you will shell out for it. This is a masterwork, remastered including gorgeous translucent text, a mini poster and post card, and an extensive booklet with reproduced images and background on Andrew McKenzie’s thoughts and the correlations he has made with the experimental artwork of Edward Moolenbeek. It even includes a bonus .mov file for your viewing pleasure. The disc includes four bonus tracks (8 in all) that are a dizzying array of fractured jazz and air raids. Squeaky wheels keep on churning, missiles keep on sailing. These sound like the field recordings from someone’s very private journal. A journey through populated train depots, scattered heels running, distorted boarding calls, violins bent to sound like cows, indistinguishable Nazi rhetoric beyond consumable recognition and a gentlemanly thank you to the invisible audience to polite bodiless applause. And that’s just after track one! Pagan owls chant like drunk UFO’s while schoolyard kid chants mutate into fat men and overfull circus animal balloons being launched with helium and laughing gas. Gun shots ring out in the spray of warped drone, and they aren’t bearing old fashioned muskets.

    The vortex of a sick and dying vacuum is what you hear, but what actually is The Sea Org? Details start to make emerge once you drift into a deeper space of archival cut-ups, alarms and a false-start primal scream. But the smattering of intriguing, and still beguiling elements arrive through the word, image and sound, none are directly linked, although they all remain intently obtuse. And that is part of the majesty of such free-form communication, open canvas expressionism. But McKenzie has a twisted ability to both dupe his captive audience while leaving them every single key. Just walk through any of the dedicated websites at brainwashed.com to further puzzle yourself. But the funhouse effect is flat in comparison to what remains the larger dialogue in the work, the science and intrinsic beauty of the art.

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  • ANDREW LILES :: Miscellany Deluxe
  • 13xCDR: www.andrewliles.com
  • . . . . .

    704 image 3 :: Where do you start with such a body of unfamiliar work? Well, I decided to just bite into this new box of Miscellany including 13 CDR’s in a beautifully handmade, embossed packaging. With extra material, live recordings and alternative mixes this is especially a treat for those who came to know Andrew Liles work after he started making sound back in 1984. The artwork is playfully odd and minimal, graphically simple but somehow imbedded with perversity. The box acts as an unabridged collection of his last two decades, so when I picked up the live Love Song (originally a limited edition of 100 10″ vinyl records on Macrophonies) I knew I was on to something. This brooding, intricate mix of electric waves, variable static and uninterruptible goings-on is like the sound you hear when you are half asleep in an 18 wheeler going 60 down an open road past midnight –sparse and elegant with an alien visitation or two.

    The phrase “suck it” turns “The Bulbs of the Vestibule (remix)” into a disturbing comment on porn, only there is nothing even slightly sexy about this recording. On Mob Rules (2000), what was once a promotional CDR incorporates a bonus live track. The title cut splits my channeled head with indulgent atonal blasts and circular echoes. Educational voice tapes are blended into the mix to add a corporate authoritarian voice speaking of society and down syndrome. The sounds of children contained by a playground with a layer of sputtering percussion attempt to dust off memories while emphasizing that the socialization of youngsters may have caustic results, a sort of yin-yang of past and future.

    Next up are recordings made between 1984-88 and my favorite title in the bunch, My Pink Derriére. An instant fairytale with the rhythm of a lost DIY soundtrack as illustrated by the virtually warped “Bendy Building (edit).” This showcases a certain pervasive habit for Liles using voiceover samples, crossed with hysterical beats and circus humor – an accordion here, heavy breathing there. All along you realize that there are some true, revealing themes throughout Liles’ work but they are all sort of secretive, somewhat sacred you might say. He’s like a mad doctor who drank an experimental elixir that was still in its development stage, but somehow between a state of still life coma and the dramatic re-enactment of live cultures something has gone terribly awry. Though he still manages to present work that creeks fearfully yet can use a traditional Japanese vibe at the same time and make it work as on “Who is Glenn Larcombe?” By adding three new tracks (originally called “Fear of Flying”) to the previous live event recording (at Rective, London) Liles has made a full-length out of the hauntingly poignant Aviatophobia. One of these unreleased tracks, “37,000 feet” is just all wind beneath its wings, but instead of being big gusts its more like one of those lazy Sunday midday warm breezes that takes randomly strewn debris slowly in its path. A creepy ambience dusted with the allure of the paler side of Fellini’s “La Strada.”

    If you are interested in the perimeter of imagination, enjoy the work or Mirror, Asmus Tietchens and Jonathan Coleclough or if you just want to be purely brainwashed you can rest assured that every penny spent on this set will be an essential return on your sensory investment.

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  • STRAIGHT OUTTA MONGOLIA
  • The Redundancy of Saying Sorry
  • CDR EP: Fencing Flatwork Recordings
  • . . .

    704 image 4 :: OK – I have found something real fun here –a six-track that is an instant blend of Stephan Merritt, Momus and maybe even the Thompson Twins. With the assistance of Random Number, Fluxorgy, SOM and James Cutts the artist known as Straight Outta Mongolia takes his pre-pubescent cracking “Peter Brady” vocal to task vs. the Mike Oldfield piano signatures on the hilarious “Looks Can Be Fatal.” Sounds like a happy-go-lucky chap in chaps probably tighter than a
    teenager’s jockstrap as he muses on about “nothing to do but watch the
    telly” and other random viruses. The schoolyard banter tone is pretty funny and light, the beats are perkier than the nipples of your favorite pin-up on “12 Bar Blues.” Provocative, primitive and thoroughly amateurish this whacked out barrage of Sisters of Mercy meets the Jetsons is real fun, with an undercurrent of stylized know-it-all throughout. The moans on “Ode to Death (je t’idm mix)” are as feisty and tongue-in-cheeky as say those muttered by My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult.

    So consider The Redundancy of Saying Sorry to be what you least expected, though it’s toy atmosphere and quirky cheap beat busting is really not anything to write home about, its electronica light with a sense of funky humor.

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  • AKALA :: The End of the Beginning
  • CD: Fin De Siecle Media
  • . . . 1/2

    704 image 5 :: “The Beginning” ignites an instantaneous gravitational thrust of this release from Stockholm’s Fin De Siecle and Lithuania’s Rolandas Cikanacicius as Akala. Transmigration is the theme here, and with that said, the migratory vibrations are anything but good, in fact the metamorphosis that takes place is quite darkly acidic and demon like. Though somewhere during the process, a warped time machine at light speed, there is familiar rock jazz brass, but then it’s off into space – and at full throttle. This is infinitely fuel injected –like a surround sound test recording. Flying faster than a locomotive, the harnessing of industrial noise is a well-trained beast. The emerging Steve Vai-like guitars in the final minute are almost oddly out of place, but have a certain human quality that levels things off. The gunshots heard on “Of” are induced around and through an ambient drone that sounds like field recordings from the insides of a kitchen blender processed through brainwaves. A reinvented movie soundtrack, projector and all, splish-splashes through a field of horror in “The End.”

    The murmuring plays with the actual output of language, while a pluralistic rumble gains weight before your ears. We are in the middle of a war-torn field, is this Africa, has freedom of speech been rendered useless? Or this reincarnation of the soul Akala is imaging. Alive and not so well, this is a trip to a reoccurring nightmare.

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  • CHEFKIRK :: Atkins Will Kill You! EP
  • CDR: Samsa Records
  • . . .

    704 image 6 :: Feedback and frolic, and a whole ‘lotta noise generated from one ubiquitously anonymous character going by the odd moniker Chefkirk. Between his releases on Samsa, TibProd and Simple Logic this kid’s off and running the prolific marathon for recording new music. In some ways that shows a bit here in that the regurgitated feedback just gets to me after a while. It is an uneven recording where nothing new except for a level of effective faded restraint just is open to improvisational interpretation. But its barren and grating until you get to the tickly “Empty Houses” where ping-pong percussion yuck it up some. The sound effective latex-stretching of “4tbbt4″ is punctuated by some quick wiry frequency at key points. And the finishing touches on the repetitive recycling of “Food Combining” makes this one a recipe with a combination of mixed ingredients in one bowl. To these ears I am seeing a trend in the past three Chefkirk releases, an experimental phase as he gains ground. He opens cans, strikes metal to a beat, it’s a street performance on a dead end.

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  • DALE LLOYD :: Aionios The Fundament
  • CD: Mystery Sea
  • . . . .

    704 image 7 :: Dale Lloyd’s field recordings for Aionios The Fundament have an instant density in layers of unfiltered, hollow, organic chambers. With the radiance of mercury swimming through an endless pipe, and cover art that projects the shadowy depths of the murky unknown Lloyd is reaching deep into his psyche to offer something not unlike a pearl in his very own shell. Poetically dissonant, “Saline Crystals Born of Mother Solutions” rustles and streams, croons and gurgles. Lloyd is more a choreographer of the elements than a straight shot musician, which makes this seem like an outsider’s perspective – one akin to a geologist perhaps. This recording reminds me of some live work I have seen by fellow field recording artist Seth Nehil. Over five tracks and 48 minutes Lloyd takes us to atomic places formerly hinted at by Wolfgang Voight and Carsten Nicolai. His sublime rendition of “Adamite Effluvia” is a daydream inducing headtrip. Sound as satellite. “Aionios The Fundament” creates a sensual meditation, cleansing your mind, eradicating the incidental, drenching it, quenching it.

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  • BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL :: Nurse
  • CDR: Fencing Flatworm Recordings
  • . . . 1/2

    704 image 8 :: This time around Birchville Cat Motel appear to be a duo made up of Campbell Kneale (beants and things) and Ben Spiers (piano accordion). Nurse is a 32-minute aching drone piece. Crying to the gods in their crafty makeshift hypertone, these men keep the hands-off premise to ignite the light inside this ship. The tone goes right through your ears like a frosty wind. These repeat offenders have brought their share of experimental fare to the table, but this is the first time that what they’ve concocted has developed into something as spine-tingling and provocative as Nurse. In what captures the final hours of dead man walking, the distorted cadence fades in and out of black. Similar to some of the early work by Maeror Tri and Lull, Birchville Cat Motel help define the guise of anonymity. How do they make a baby monitor and wood chipper sound like an ocean
    wave at the center of a storm?

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  • JOHANN WLIGHT :: Dauswkn
  • CDR: Sijis
  • . . .

    704 image 9 :: Sijis tells me that this is a recording by a sort of anonymous copycat. Well, for the first 2 minutes or so its just silence pretty much and
    then a slow wave of sound filters with a carbon monoxide-like quality. I guess these recordings were sent to the label in plain packaging with no real background info, only its enigmatic form. What emerges are radio frequency static, shaky, rattling electronic tweaks and a hissy, swirling drone. In a half-hour Johann Wlight’s “Dauswkn” presents a sort of urban decay, a memory of something that once posed promise, and the shards of what’s left behind, sort of like the shell of the USS Titanic. If you like the work of Augur or Brume you may find this to be like their homemade recordings, just with a bit more of a reductionist approach. It’s creaky, squeaky and a bit dark. One may ponder deeply in the shades of its atmosphere, one that simulates the oxidation of a turn-o-the-century tintype. He ends with Sunday church bells and a meandering dotted with white noise and filled with solemn swirling bits.

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  • BANCO DA GAIA :: You Are Here
  • CD: Six Degrees Records
  • . . .

    704 image 10 :: OK, so years ago a band named Banco de Gaia was born and released some powerful tribal meets world electronica back about ten years ago on amazing records like Last Train to Lhasa (I think I have the 3CD set lying around somewhere). Since then, they’ve blended into the fabric of mainstream generics, until now. On You Are Here Toby Marks has arrived to mark his own radical territory! Tracks like “Zeus No Like Techno” spark some of the most effective powerhouse dance music in a while, it’s upbeat by using flavors of the past, Italian café themes and other hard driving dance beats. It is, of course, his fascination with world music that makes for the tasty bite of its surging energy. Like The Fire This Time, Banco de Gaia uses political intonation and other spoken cuts on the tongue-twisted “Waking Up in Waco.” Dipping back into his ambient world past on “Gray Over Gray” the Nora Jones-esque croon on a nameless singer instills a set of faded memories in the chilled jazzy skyline optimistically singing “I could shine through the shades of gray”. And then there’s “Tongue in Chic” that sounds like a funhouse reprise of Madonna’s “Ray of Light.” After spending some years working on projects like the Pi soundtrack and working with everyone from Jack Dangers and “Dark Side of the Moon” sax aficionado Dick Parry, Marks since poised to dip deeper into the flight of the living psyche by being the second coming of Enigma, perhaps. This is evident on the chanting, universally strange “Not In My Name” blunted by spiritual warfare and rubber rocket rhythm.

    Banco de Gaia use sequencers to sculpt a mood range, anything from upbeat, hit-the-floor to lose control trance. Sanskrit comes to life in the holistic title track – Sashay, shanti!

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  • CORNUCOPIA/PABLO RECHE :: Nebula 9.3
  • CD3: Testing Ground
  • . . . 1/2

    704 image 11 :: Come in, Houston – we may have a problem! Nebula 9.3 is the electronic fabrication of deceleration. If jet fuel were pouring from this 20-minute flight most of Rhode Island would be covered in gloppy murk. This is the first collaboration to find Argentinian ambient artist Pablo Reche and Puerto Rican media duo Cornucopia (Jorge Castro and Claudius Chea) working together. Both use manipulated concrete sound sources that layer in harmony and based in scintillating drone on “Nebula 9.3.” The multi-textured warm sound is rich as it churns and burns and blisters. You know the feeling you have in an airplane when you are 3000 feet off the ground? This one force-feeds atonalities to your left lobe, without precaution –a defiant physical recording.

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  • GELBART :: Four Track Improvisations
  • CD: Defekt Records
  • . . .

    704 image 12 :: This may be the recital of a bunch of kids playing their toy watches, synchronizing the happy time together. But Tel-Aviv’s Adi Gelbart managed to get his piano cum four-track mixer recordings to me through the continuous strife of his homeland. And maybe this is a perfect foil for the political unrest. His pet instrument is the Yamaha CS01 which is a perky lil’ thing – only highlighted by the thirty-two tracks, each that run an average of a minute and a half or so. Gelbart takes on the pageantry of Duke Ellington’s extremely lovely “Mood Indigo” and transforms it into something that crosses all the many eras to become a space-age electronica jazzmobile. This is exultant music, almost syrupy, but survives the term “sappy.” Every note seems to count, and at times he seems to be making fun of pop music in general, but it relates to much of what we are hearing in clubs, minus the big unnecessary production and booming bass. It’s Mouse on Mars on acid with a hint of the Troggs – LOL.

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  • ELLENDE :: The Proof is in the Pudding
  • CDR3 (Ltd. to 50): Zeromoon
  • . . . .

    704 image 13 :: Zeromoon has helped to unearth twenty more minutes of Tokyo’s Ellende, the evolving enigma. Proof is in the Pudding (from “The Little Suicide Book”) is one long piece that shifts drone around electronically, magnetically, shaping its own red planet of uncertain terror. The chord reverb and vault like baby birds with the first whiff of spring pollen. Deep in the building brew is a slight grumbling, purring. The mumbling voices tease and tantalize numbingly. What they are saying is pretty much your guess, but you might imagine someone speaking a language pattern completely off the map. Are those bagpipes or some type of marching band mixed in there real good, its kind of a foiled mirage. The last 30 seconds is a short prayer, monk style (oh, not Thelonious).

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  • PAWEL GRABOWSKI :: Glitch Letters
  • CDR3: SINE
  • . . .

    704 image 14 :: Glitch Letters is a 21 minute long live manipulated field recording made in Dublin. SINE (meaning “silence is not empty”) is still so new that their site has only been hit up less than 500 times. Pawel’s Grabowski’s work, with its sticks and stones, fire and spark,
    reminds me some of contemporaries like jfrede, however, he adds a digital dimension of pitched sine waves which counterbalances the straightforwardness of the simple elements. It’s a faucet of fire – very subdued, yet stealth. Grabowski’s layering of very thin glitch sounds like snowflakes landing upon a car grille, just a miniscule sizzle and then its completely gone. His electro acoustic music uses vibrant chimes and crusted percussion, lots of breath and a snails timing; The character is encrypted by its faint gestural zips and live open mic appeal towards its conclusion when you can hear the audience talking a bit. But Grabowski takes a rain sample through the finish line to calm, and balance his experiment.

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  • GIUSEPPE IELASI :: Plans
  • CD: Sedimental
  • . . . . .

    704 image 15 :: Italy’s Fringes Recordings main man, Giuseppe Ielasi has spent a good part of eighteen months piecing together a 31 minute piece called Plans which crosses field recordings with ambient electronica in a way I have never heard before. His mousey tweaks are dashed off anxiously amid awash of cathedral drone orchestration that screens back the entire surface of the recording with a blaze of shimmering light. Growing and building to a crescendo and punctuated with dull, rubbed static and odd clatter, with metallic twists and keys and shutters, this only leads to a tripped up bevy of paradoxical percussion. With a bit of jazz savvy the mix of cymbals, wood and drum kit rile and fluster, but only just beneath the surface. At one point it sounds like tires on a gravel pathway sans engine, that warm crackly sound that only rubber and stone make together, but after a while you hear what could be rain, or fire –it sounds mysteriously homey. The eclipse of birds fly through in the building middle ground, chirping prettily as Ielasi plays a folky guitar with just the right amount of modulation. All instrumentation, analogue and electro, come together in congruity in the last few minutes, with a fine elastic melody that makes way for organic clicks, tears and crisp peeling sounds. The passage starts out granulated, permeated, and by disc end you have a fine fluid mix that winds away like a wisp of wind.

  • MOKIRA :: Album
  • CD: Type Records
  • . . . . .

    715 image 2 :: The latest incarnation of Sweden’s Andreas Tilliander (Mille Plateaux, Raster Noton, Ideal) is set far apart than much of his earlier work. The pristine dark nature to the way in which this Album grows is speculative with a wild sense of authority. Broken into seven untitled parts, Mokira’s sound here is a play on warm tones and chilly glitches. Comprised of loops and pops that evenly blend the weight and structures heard in works by fellow composers Noto and Pole. The low-fi hiss of whitenoise static is shallow and fierce. Granulated peppershaker percussion livens the embodiment of a new organic in digital music. Tilliander’s signature could is made from an absence of anything outside of the mechanical world, his world is feasibly one of the most lushly un-fabricated sounding planets you may ever visit. Stimulating cellular increments of structured mathematical sound slices are layered and aurally airbrushed to a perfect matte finish. The awkward minimalist soundscape is crystal clear with faded hues of grey-blue harmonies and patchy sparks of a needle to the record – it’s post click-cut. The head gets lost in the meandering mix, like a steam mist evaporating into the atmosphere. Resampling a repetitive non-sense vocal Mokira designs a soft chant over a would-be beat driven cascade of other bubbly sounds that is stunted and a bit dry. The end result is stubbly, textural and tranquil. Incorporating a bit of industrial scratchiness Tilliander shapes the final minutes of one of my favorite recordings this year with an antidote to an extremely ambiguous dialogue in microgroove.

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  • VIOLET/SHIFTS :: Resista Mold
  • CDR3 (Ltd. to 50): Zeromoon
  • . . .

    715 image 3 :: Jeff Surak (autoharp) and Frans de Waard (guitar) collaborate to create a hybrid hum that pulses like ultra violet light with a red filter. The two tracks lengthy tracks here run at a total of about twenty minutes with “Jubilent Horde” as a decadent feast for the industrial heart. The warped ringing reel of its central sound drags and droops. Sounds like the halo of a fast moving train, or the hyper amplification of a nucleus. The x-rayed broken earth cover art is beautifully organic and illustrates this composition well. Track two, “Square_is_Mobbed” gives these two a bit more room to spread their sound a bit wider, opens up, breaks water. If you were to dance on the outer ring of Jupiter it may sound like this. A bent, metallic glint with just a hint of backing percussion that sounds like a china cabinet during an earthquake, but is most likely the macro shake of guitar strings moving in space. A calming atonal balance between blur and hum.

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  • HAFLER TRIO :: How To Slice A Loaf of Bread Vol. 1
  • 3xCD (Ltd. 500): Phonometography
  • . . . .

    715 image 4 :: In the most elaborate and particular packaging (with separate image cards, die cuts and accordion-fold demographic texts) of any release over the last year, the newest addition to the Hafler Trio recent prolific arsenal is H3O label Phonometrography’s How To Slice A Loaf of Bread in a hand-numbered edition of 500. Three full discs of sonic loss of self-consciousness. On disc one (all discs just shy of one hour), the drone ghouls, the ambiguous creature folk, the haunted fog are all cautiously levitating above common perception. The profane poetry of Andrew McKenzie lives and breaths like a garish misanthrope teeming with dark rites of passage to initiate ’til death do we part. Yes, it is a bit of gothic ambience with plenty of encaustic silence. The vibration warps your inner ear. If you fast, this may be your fuel. Disc two opens with sacred drone of respect and remorse. This startles contemplation in its single industrial line across the page, shifting with the barest quartz accuracy. The philosophically articulate, albeit distancing cryptic idiom spoken here forth by Hafler Trio is derived from the essence of its past, but reflected only in its improvisational altitude. Becoming a hapless imitation, rendering a chamber orchestra put on hold. Disc three draws from a deeper, changing roto-rhythm. It pulses and transforms in color by shifting its minutiae in, out, around the back –an experiment in 0s and 1s with unlimited possibilities, and no true end result. The elusive mystery continues.

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  • XELA :: Tangled Wool
  • CD: City Centre Offices
  • . . . .

    715 image 5 :: Xela (John Twells) brought the world the very original sound of For Frosty Mornings… (Neo Ouija) last year. Now, teaming up with the people over at Berlin’s City Centre Offices he is about to explode all over the map. Starting up with the piano and guitar and happy-go-lucky vibe of “Softness of Senses” this twenty-something has a bright future. Twells is taking to a combo package of electronics and acoustic folk lines, when he composes songs about girls, clouds and smiles. The on-the-trails melody of “Smiles and Bridges” is almost sappy sweet, but something keeps things amber light, more like honey than saccharine ya know? Calling to mind themes from after school specials, holiday commercials and other blush producing giddiness, these smiles are wide. The title reflects the undoing and redoing of sound recycling, as made easy here by Xela. There’s a matter-of-factness about this record, not in a pouty way, as he caresses the soft, slightly sad rhythm on “You are in the Stars’ – perhaps an homage to a friend who’s passed? Getting the balance right Tangled Wool is one part post pop ambient electronica and three parts sheer soulful singer-songwriter styled thematic instrumentals. The quiet density of “Drawing Pictures of Girls” opens its hatch just barely to let out an elfin vocal that’s a bit shy, albeit mythical. In what could be a starry-eyed love call, the muted background makes it a pretty croon indeed. With analogous tones to those found throughout Bjork’s Verspertine, Xela sprinkles the magic about in the visionary “Through Crimson Clouds.” For all its harpsichord style panache the full-bodied track is something akin to a dreamy teenage campfire romp, toasted marshmallows and all. “So No Goodbyes” with its jet in the air and twee lining gives the palest impression of a poker-faced boardwalk pacer who’s just dropped his summer love off at the airport. Xela lies in a lonely hammock in a large field staring at the sky. People taking off every minute somewhere, loved ones hurled into the air, like a baby in a degenerative 16MM home movie.

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  • COELACANTH :: Mud Wall
  • CDR: Mystery Sea
  • . . .

    715 image 6 :: Coelacanth (Loren Chasse & Jim Haynes) process through a drone of fire and a vortex of fear on their recording “ud Wall. Taking the name of a prehistoric fossilized fish, this is 40-minutes that absorbs an air of dense, viscous, soft grains. By treating a live performance from 2002, the duo has essentially reinterpreted the improvisation, opting for highlights that mutate gently with industrial vibration. Scraping the ocean floor, pouring static and other random metallic percussion play draw attention to the inner organics of this long player. Mud Wall is like a series of shaded memoirs, those moments in between… sitting on a plane awaiting your turn to hit the skies, waking in the middle of the night sandwiched between dreams, anesthesia… By using objects to create rolling, scuffing and otherwise fidgety smaller actions they have amplified part of their inner workings. More concrete than ambient, this is a leap for Mystery Sea, whose works often induce slumber – Mud Wall is complex listening that keeps you at the edge, through its raw core, and diffuse obscurity. A means to an invented world without end.

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  • HORCHATA :: Basidia
  • CD: Ad Noiseam
  • . . .

    715 image 7 :: Mike Palace is Horchata and his lethargic “Somatic” shoots from nerve endings in the hip. The cassette-fi of “Conidia” lends to a somewhat homemade flavor rendered and blended slowly to get all the goodness from top to bottom. The drum machine is a bit outdated, so he douses it with plenty of fuzzbox. But it’s still a bit too pensive for me, it wants to build, grow, expand but keeps to a gamelan sort of aesthetic. Now that I ask, the big footed beat comes down on “Cyst.” The rendering, decelerated, but still keeps time with the other sparse, glitchy electronics. One step at a time, and then another… it must be the het of Summer that regulates the roll here. The micro hip-hop of “Saprobe” sounds like a slowed down “All is Full of Love” believe it or not. Palace is vocoded beyond recognition, it’s more like a bike chain. The magical creaky world that is made-up of “Mychorrhizae” is both chilling and warm. It’s a preface to something that never starts, really – like a cliffhanger in mid-air, no physical ground beneath you but somehow you are just out there, dangling. Twine steps in to remix the buzzing “Peridium” and uses a side-step beat that is half funky, half postdated to start with and then its all broken in back beats, coasting austerity, with a bust out caustic ping-pongy symphonic processional. Yeah, it’s like that. They tweak the sky, juice the flowers and by all means necessary distort the ultimate possibilities of where a mix rises and falls. It’s last minute reminds me of some of the finest moments on Terre Thaemlitz’s “Couture Cosmetique.” As Horchata close out Basidia with the chunky ambience of “Gleba” it acts like a halo effect, with extensive rings in cool spectral shades that fade away as the edges recede into night.

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  • Z_E_L_L_E :: rjctd::nw
  • CD: Cubicfabric
  • . . . .

    715 image 8 :: The sounds ringing in your ears are filtered sinewaves that are tuning fork pitch perfect. The most current z_e_l_l_e (Nicola Catalano, Maurizio Martusciello), rjctd::nw, was recorded between 2000-01 in Rome and parts are like the end reel of a film still spinning sans projectionist. Yet, when reminded each day I step into most urban settings to hear the motors and warnings of dump trucks and cranes backing up, changing gears and directives, this recording becomes a kinder, gentler lullaby of such gestures. Embodying the guise of what makes up the term microsound, the Italian duo strip down sound to its finest, sheerest elements, maybe even molecular structures. After a great debut on Line’s nth they seem to have only taken their sound further down a warm path patterned by dissonant bright dots and sparkling minimalism. z_e_l_l_e’s work is sketchy and encoded, sparse and meditative. The science of sprite noise is modulated by startlingly minuscule tonal experiments. In the end, a colony of digitized crickets surround and otherwise cordon off a hypersensitive bionetwork.

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  • TOSHIYA TSUNODA :: I, II, III, IV: Kapotte Muziek by….
  • CD: Korm Plastics
  • . . . .

    715 image 9 :: The wet, static rain, combining digital and other field recordings attempts to reconstruct “Vier Stukken” by Kapotte Muziek (Frans De Waard). Toshiya Tsunoda (Sirr, Intransitive, Lucky Kitchen) brings together some deep conceptualism to this work. Recorded in Nagaura Bay, Japan, Tsunoda captures the primal frequency of the shoreline, the anchor’s chains, the stillness of the water’s calm with a random gull, general marine industry. Though, if you step outside of the known sound you hear distinctive metals, percussion via churning bubbles and a drone that could be either the well worn tracks with a distant, passing steam locomotive or an elongated cry for help. You know that sound when you have reached the bottom of a favorite drink? Sucking endlessly through a straw you attempt to savor the very last drop, all expectations high that the serving will last forever. This exaggerated anticipation is built tenfold here with a series of velocity shifts, and some added chirps and slight melodies implanted in the background. This is the eleventh in an ongoing series that matches composers with the back catalogue of work by KM which also includes renditions by Stephan Mathieu, Raboud Mens and others. In conclusion, Tsunoda brings us back to the coast, with big (jetliner passing overhead) and lil’ birdcalls. The combination of nature and industrial stillness (and chaotic frenzy) is a complex, difficult listen; it’s tension mirroring the way of the twenty-first century world.

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  • MOON :: Dream
  • CDR: Fencing Flatwork Recordings
  • Alternative Site: www.burningemptiness.fr.st
  • . . 1/2

    715 image 10 :: Dream is a quirky glitch-o-phonic oasis by these French twiddlers. Part deep dark experimentation, with a heaping topping of playful pops and 70s synths – just listen to “The Queller Drive.” Murky mono beats make “Twins’ Heaven” a deadpan undone pop prank, if it weren’t for the fortified grooves. By manipulating their guitars through both hard and software the blend adds a sci-fi pitch without an after bite and “Oblivion” attests to that. Though the mix is a bit hazy, it lends to the antique feel to its most modern character. There’s something in there, beyond the surface treble, which is amiss. “Spacefuzzdge” is like a Gap commercial on Mars. And “Bad Dreams Made of Cheap Plastic” sums it up in Saturday AM cartoon-style. Though there are several redeeming factors that make this less than a momentary foray into improvisational performance art – the story flows like a bad night’s rest, constantly interrupted, anxious, and frustrating. Not quite cinematic, with partial mix flux, and plenty of trial and error.

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  • HALO MANASH :: Par-Antrai : Vir
  • CD: Aural Hypnox
  • . . .

    *FINLAND :: The shamanic trio of Anti Ittna H. (vocal, guitars, samples), R. Kadin and Iwo Hoccuc (percussion) unleash the first part of an upcoming trilogy of records. The demon cat is out of the bag for sure, in very solid tribal drumming and a lot of mystique. This is not your typical Goth rip-off. This hour plus piece, partly made for meditation (but might be better for bats), is quite charged with flares and other experimental drone and whirring cryptic antimatter. The very sparse caveman meets Dracula vocal is completely tonal, barely audible, just a part of the mix. The tracks melt into one another with an industrial mysticism. This also carries the weight of its atmosphere without sell-out rock hooks, and in some way might be informed by all of the second comings of Bauhaus and the like. The sequencers briskly build taffy-like layers of doom. And if you are into it you can probably read dozens of messages in the accompanying eight page booklet filled with occult style diagrams, shapes made in nature and in industry – a tangled, Escheresque web we weave…

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  • SETH NEHIL / OLIVIA BLOCK :: Sunder, Unite
  • CD: Sedimental
  • . . . .

    715 image 11 :: The latest collaboration between New York’s Seth Nehil and Chicago’s Olivia Block makes for a more intimate affair than their previous work, although maintains all the eccentric nuances of tiny organics and bursts of light that each artist brings to the table. Essentially broken into four parts and subsections thereof – the duo uses recordings composed between 1999-2001 with the occasional assistance of Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Michael Northam (objects) and Michael Shannon (reeds). The piece opens with pops of generated white noise, some utterly unique molecular goings-on and fused wind instruments drifting only barely through. The wiggly melody acts like a spring of fish spawning in cascading glints of golden rays, or a mad violinist using scrimshaw to whittle his sidewards. The actual field recordings used here are from Kyoto’s train platforms, markets and other diminutive elements in Japan. The wooden percussion sounds Japanese somehow, sort of paced and neat – and the fan-belt drones make for an elusive sound, something incidental and improvised yet quite chilling actually. Their use of very fine coarse, undertones help keep your neck extended towards the speakers. Rusty parts and emanating gases tilt towards the more erudite side of my inner ear, where I am playing part in some type of textural short story. The romancing crackle of vinyl, and other alternating sounds are channeled the way you tend to hear while flying down the road at speeds over 60, you just catch quick hints of solid mass in the air as you whiz by, like only getting a part of the story. It’s like a live dada poem unfolding.

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  • ANDREY KIRITCHENKO :: Bees & Honey
  • CD: Zeromoon
  • . . . .

    715 image 12 :: Split into five tracks and ten remixes of them, Andrey Kiritchenko’s Bees & Honey is sort of an all-in-one look at the intimacy and activist sides of his work. On “Moonshine” he induces a static rainstorm that is preceded by a clever alteration of tonal modulations. Light, silky melodious curvature flanking both vibes and intermittent feedback make “Suntouch” that much more physically challenging. “Bees Scattered” is like a microfine sandpapering of a non-threatening hive, although it’s a bit shortened at a touch over two minutes. Although the follow-up “Hive” may act as a part two extending for nearly seven more minutes of jangly drone, more like a woven web of liquid rhythm at the consistency of burnt caramel. Sticky, gooey, slick. Acting almost as a glossy top sheet to the previous short passages, Kiritchenko paints it on in heavy, lush coats that melt and ooze smoothly together. As the mix stirs and churns in an aural counter-clockwise precision the pitch shifts to a low-fi shriek of metal on metal. Finally, the fourteen-minute closer, “Flowers and Fields,” starts to spring. With hypnotic acumen the room is belly-up in laser lights and surveillance, honing into the center of budding undergrowth. Rasping nodules and sirens speak and are silenced, the atmosphere grows dim, a cascade of clean whitenoise drifts eternally. The remixes kick off with Brian Lavelle’s “Hymenopteran” which incorporates some cricketety field recording that blurs starry skies. It’s a chamber of tweaked echoes and ocean waves.

    Marcus Maeder’s take on “Suntouch” takes a sizzling shower and turns it into something out of a 50s sci-fi B-movie soundtrack, complete with warped reverberation and bouncing satellite channels. The Scannermx is Robin Rimbaud’s contribution to Bees & Honey and by using his signature spoken samples layered right atop each other it creates a cacophonous cell of containment. The synthesis of airport/advertising voices surfaces and shies away to a tickering ribbon of the beats caused by turntable needle input play. Violet’s “Woman with Splited Head with Tramway” is metallic, trifling with bells and whistles to a fault. The mix bursts wide open with the brusque collision of segregated percussion that plays on the equality of both atonal rhythm and sporadicism. The Moglass’ “Moontouch” is wildly ambient, haunted, irregularly dizzying. “Dead World” is Bay Area Kim Cascone’s offering, which asserts itself as a fizzling firecracker. Drills, pops and lightly abrasive static draw only mild attention to the foreground here. It’s like raised print, you don’t really know its there until you look at it from a different angle. Cray’s “Moonshinermx56″ is a quintessential space transmission, intelligent life that grows and glows. This anxious mix of flapping glitch and shallow forming hum operates like the acoustics of light, only the essence of the spectrum pulses and shifts, no solid mass is formed. Also included are reworks by Freiband, Kotra and 833-45, rounding off the buzz and rip off Andrey Kiritchenko’s complex, living organism.

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  • ROEL MEELKOP :: Onkyo OK
  • CD (ltd to 500): CMR
  • . . . .1/2

    715 image 13 :: From extremely delicate field recordings rendered by nature and captured by Hitoko Sakai, Frans de Waard (Beequeen, Kapotte Muziek) and taken under the editing and mixing creative wing of multimedia artist Roel Meelkop (Goem, THU20) while in Japan in 2001, Onkyo OK is a wasteland of miniature sound effects and low-level drone. Split into six discreet track sections, and infecting your ears with the fade in and out surrealism of the instant, these three blend in the awkward candor of fluorescence with undercurrents of backstage at a typical rock concert in any major city, but you’ll have to listen in real closely to catch any of that. It’s like a big old compactor with a digital faceplate on the fritz. The concave hiss of early morning in an open field brings geese, a fountain and a whole lotta primordial hiss. The sounds of industrial clatter circles inside my head(phones) but is with such fusion that beside for commenting on the daily warpath of life’s impossible balance nothing is clearly delineated in terms of discreet personal instances or happenings. It’s all blended together, like a tie-dyed ragdoll being shaken (not stirred). The home stretch of “Onkyo OK” provides a muffled static being dragged closer to the edge. It’s an arduous, wind-swept climb, building slowly like a plane taking flight in turbulance and sounding as though it is coming full force directly at you. What appear to be shutters engaged to hold back some of the pressure only partially prevent some of the perforated airflow through. The sink is sudden and the end is abridged.

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  • STEINBRÜCHEL/BRUSA :: – 00 Dedaih
  • CD3 (Ltd. to 500): Synchron
  • . . .

    715 image 14 :: Code is the word. This CD-Rom mini CD includes four remixed tracks running around 13 minutes and a CD-Rom with software and a movie. The mixes include “Rotatron” by Frank Bretschneider (Raster-Noton, Mille Plateaux) that is certainly in the ilk of the best work you have heard from him in the past, warm glitch served slowly, repetitively. It’s pure clean, crisp sparkle. Steinbrüchel (Line, Synchron) brings the treble vibe of “Pas(s)t” to this table. It starts out as open space, and just a glint of electric dust, and sweeps with an ethereal tone that fades away quickly. “Postfabricatedmonomix” is Richard Chartier’s (3 Particles, Trente Oiseaux) contribution here. It is as though he has taken small magnets and metal elements to test in a white room. There is the sound of suction, attraction, a magnetic vibrance to the piece that is flush and intricate. In the end Stephan Mathieu’s “Physiocontrol © + (R) (advance, bar, beam, boom).” The piece starts out like technical difficulties in radio transmission and seems predicated on a sense of sort of syncopated balance. More like the capture of a bulky head wind than music, really.

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