Reviews: 9/13/2002

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Joe Colley :: Anthem: Static For Empty Life (C.I.P.)

Joe Colley (Crawl Unit) releases a limited edition (500) 3″ CD clocking in at nineteen sedacious minutes. This is the type of recording that standardizes new genres somewhere ten years down the turnpike from where we are right now. Eleven minutes into this long player my entire computer system is rumbling and the volume is only at 1/2 throttle (btw: no computers were used on his end). Mind you, this disc is not about shock value noise by any means, it is simply full, jamming with sound at all corners. His quote “if we were truly healthy, we’d have no need for art of any kind” is a powerful manifesto to all creatives that struggle in the constant pursuit to communicate through the sensory realm. There are a few bare moments that separate portions of Static.. but it is in the last three minutes that we become the compound inside a spray paint can, the stretch of the gum you stepped on in the street, the bolts that hold the railroad ties in place. A reeling pulse of laser like streams and power hoses, a complete release. Use with caution, but remember to
recycle-renew-reuse!

  • C.I.P.
    Fon :: Tding(Werkzeug)308 image 2Obliteration of the word, of imagery, of sexy packaging, Fon has gone into a plotting and obtuse direction to mount themselves firmly in the world of nu-code. Even the name of the act was unclear upon receiving
    the material (aside from an unassuming press release in accompaniment). On their latest miniCD Tding this Viennese set has lifted the stakes of proto logic and slammed its own dimensions towards earth, resulting in the essence of its own b-side discovery. This is a very serious conceptual work based in man-made time, man-made space, the generic future. It marries the Gameboy and the Xbox in dueling descent and reverie. Improvisation, I think not. This is a fully realized new language, or I have been taken over by aliens. A buzzing, whirring, circular interpretation of placement and balance clocks this disc in at
    fifteen minutes of noise fame in 2002 (actually it runs 15:08, but who’s counting?)..
  • Werkzeug
    308 image 3Richard Francis :: Three Tracks (Horch/CMR)

    Richard Francis (aka Eso Steel) has created a fully ambient concrète recording in the current tradition of Bernhard Günter and Francisco Lopez. I had to turn off the air purifier and crawl up to the system to get in tight to experience the intimacy of three tracks. The minute subsound rumblings can easily be dwarfed by the slightest of street noise, making this a challenge for any urbanite to hear. For many this will be a strictly headphone-based experience. I feel as though I am ignoring the silver screen at the back of a movie theatre and am just hearing the film reels do their thing from a distance. This co-release from German label Horch and Francis’ own CMR out of New Zealand, draws the lines and doesn’t use color. This is as raw as you get with the barest bones of staticity and foreign mechanics. Bringing the speakers closer I am now part of the noise, a shower of electricity perhaps, the transfer of information and/or tiny particles. This is about sensory perception and depravation, a very physical recording, a question of ones sense of scale and ability to filter all other noise. This could be a field recording of a very muted thunderstorm, it could also be an open mic in a sleeping turtle’s cage. Dull hiss and vague warp bring rationale to the reinvention of the theremin, though there are no specific, known instruments in sight (or sound).

  • CMR
    308 image 4Polwechsel/Fennesz :: Wrapped Islands (Erstwhile)

    This hour-long disc comes in eight parts, Framing (1-8). Guitars, saxophones, computers – oh my! Polwechsel were one of the few Viennese acts in the mid 90s to cautiously attempt reinventing sounds
    that were smaller than themselves. After several years working together Werner Dafeldecker (a former jazz bassist) along with experimental DJ come guitarist Christian Fennesz have formed alliances once again with cellist Michael Moser, saxophonist John Butcher and guitarist Burkhard Stangl. I can’t tell if Wrapped Islands is a longtime overdue homage to environmental artist Christo or just a good title. With layers of constructed sounds and sounds like construction the listening experience is a play on spatial realization. Fennesz’s six string plucks and plots and take turns with varied isolated and distracted structures. There is a sense that parts of this recording were improvised live in an open studio space and collaged back together through analogue and digital means. Perhaps this is the equivalent of a field recording of taking in the laundry in alliance with the scotch tape the Starns once used to hold together their multi-photo pieces in the late 80s. However random or not, this disc certainly has a “lab” feel about it. There is a romantic warmth to Butcher’s tenor on Framing 6 that resonates with could be missing in folk music these days. Like a good work-in-progress
    Wrapped Islands allows you to still see its edges, its forms, its flaws.

  • Erstwhile
    308 image 5Reynols :: Pacalirte Sorban Cumanos (Beta-lactam Ring)

    I am being haunted by an Argentinian trio named Reynols (Miguel Tomasin, Robeto Conlazo and Anla Courtis). I first discovered them a few years back when Bernhard Günter was quick to capture their tape hiss collage of 20 year-old blank cassettes on Trente Oiseaux. This is certainly a round about recording in terms of distorting genres. Here we witness a very sonically charged live ensemble feel of clashing psychedelia and pomp in the fist of noise and imagination. There are overtures of Edward Kaspel and Pink Floyd alongside more traditional folk percussion and the voice of naiveté. These almost anonymous players give weight to the ancient practices of music from the soul, the spirit and the hereafter. Beta-lactum Ring Records deserves a nod for not sacrificing another divergent recording from their ongoing roster of truly challenging avant garde experimentalists. The band plays handmade instruments (Colibri Secret, Snofer Pinchers, Marmonio) tugging at the channels of mono, low-fi cut and paste with a sincere warmth and guts to spare. It’s like being hung by one leg atop a speedway while the world peels by your head. There are prayer-like ramblings that are as lulling as they are disturbing. Tomasin, who is weighted with Down’s Syndrome, channels the vigorous tongues of David Tibet and Tibetan Monks all at once. Beyond the raucous frequencies and moments of cacophony there is a sentimental, almost saddening account of a man in pain. There are subliminal messages herein, a modern day “Lucy in the Sky”, flying high and low.

  • Beta-lactam Ring
    308 image 6Taa-Pet :: taaPet Sounds (Fact Records) Jerusalem’s Taa-Pet (Binya Reches and Aviad Albert) take the live experience to the people on their latest studio release, taaPet Sounds. With clear references to Oval and other artists of the Source and Sonig camps these guys make a home of their own in the world of tiny sonics. In the continuous play of Cold Sweet Potato (parts 1 to 3) we experience an alert form of semantic sirens and dark alley drone. Not a casual listen, this is a physical disc, where rumbles, vibrations and playful things await inside. I can’t help imaging Hitchcock for some reason. Barely lit corners with a razor sharp outline of cast streetlight and asphalt complete with a vague newsprint scented air. This is a
    soundtrack, plain and simple. Though these two have played forms of rock and electronica – this disc (their 2nd full-length), for sure, should put them on the world map of highly formed digital experimentation. Taa-Pet performs live in museum environments and are currently collaborating with fellow Israeli artist Uri Tzaig on an upcoming video project. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.
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    Keith Fullerton Whitman :: Playthroughs (Kranky)

    Guitars abound in a recording of flowing sequences and string drone meets symphonic digital feedback. Playthroughs has Whitman (aka Hrvatski) using a full bank of tech wizardry to superimpose and
    reiterate the voicings of both electric and acoustic guitars in a balanced improvisation clearing the air of all surrounding ambience. There is a pure, almost white noise effect that bellows from feedback “Zwei” (composed of 34 channels of feedback) filtering residual sounds in the immediate space and breathing a new appreciation into statics and quietude that follow in fib01a. Closing with lengthy “Modena” Whitman
    takes a repetitive Reich-like phrasing and builds a space-age free-form idea. Tonal introductions are fabricated serendipitously to effect. You have to get the LP version for the secret bonus track (lucky dogs)! A beautiful noise, indeed.

  • Kranky
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