Four very different records coming from various corners of the Earth, all out today for your listening pleasure. Each of these bends and prods beyond singular genres in scope and musicality. Unexpected, provocative, and otherwise cerebral, each will take you some place – so people get ready!
Out of Berlin, first up is Alessandro Cortini and his record Volume Massimo (Mute). At first it seems like low-bowing synth washes, but soon builds on the classic, minimalist Philip Glass aesthetic phased and twisted within a tech-rock guise. These tracks fuse and meld into one another as if this is a long-player conceptual piece rather than a record of ‘songs’ per se. Cortini manages to balance highs and lows with an exquisite grace, but for some reason this record feels as though it fell from the early 80’s and into our laps just now. I’m sure this is with good reasoning as the production is slick and tight. Cortini has made an instrumental pop-ambient record that’s a second cousin to Moby or The Orb at their most chill.
Batticuore into Momenti comes off like Metamatic-era John Foxx, with it’s cold synths and primary chord structure. There is something romantic embedded in the hiss and circumstance, save for its blatant obfuscation – it’s the same feels one gets from listening to old vinyl, sounds enveloped in wear and in time. For this reason, and for its soaring sonic shifting, La Storia is most definitely the yearning stand-alone on this record. It’s suitably darkened edges have the perfect blend of drama and glitch to satisfy most ears, especially those who have been through all the eras this seems influenced by. And this proves that influence, even if casual, can be a powerful tool.
Past Present & Tortusa is releasing Eternal Return today on Norway’s Jazzland Records. This is far from any known jazz – be-bop, out, or classic – to these ears. Instead this trio of players wields their respective instruments towards the horizon, drawing pictures, albeit blurry and sleepy, into the clouds. Their three pieces included are timeless ambient works of fermented coziness, defying the typical jazz set with elongated drones and lost consciousness.
It’s an after-hours urban soundtrack when most of the denizens of the city have turned in for the night, and the slick moonlit streets are mostly undisturbed. Eternal Return croons and flows, gently, almost melancholic. Mind you, the occasional brass blare interrupts as does the ominous percussion pulse, at times, but these seem situational and momentary, rather than sewn into the fabric of traditional improv. Their language is one in tongues, beyond the pale – and back again.
Ventorgano (Matter) by Viennese sound/installation artist Andreas Trobollowitsch is uniquely built on a electroacoustic synthesizer built by the composer. It’s a thing of beauty, really – but it doesn’t stop on its physicality. Rather the grandiose construct disappears in the quietude of the sounds he makes. Trobollowitsch’s resonances are so super subtle, some listeners may benefit from headphone listening here. His sustained notes are similar to that of a pipe organ and its enormous echo in a sizable cathedral.
Instead of typical piano strings he has deployed those of a guitar, which provides the sense of oscillation and reverb. The two lengthy compositions here give me the impression of being haunted, as if there is no player involved at all, as if there is a spirit propelling the goings-on. It’s deep, real deep drone. Sculpturally abstract, but off scale and mass. Imagine being inside the motor of a wind turbine and you might be close. Side two only further emphasizes the central force of this inventive work. Here strings have some similarity to ancestral Gamelan, with steely short echoes and constant beats. Three quarters in he incorporates what sounds like clicking motors almost reminiscent of an old-fashioned clacking wooden rollercoaster, climbing toward the sky, only to fumble into distraction and asymmetrical conclusions which are haunting in the end.
Speaking of rollercoasters….Fake Meat (Orange Milk Records) by Galen Tipton is as if you have been lost in-between magical worlds of a vintage Wurlitzer, 50’s lounge music and a pinball machine. The electronic effects are as animated and fun as you might imagine – think People Like Us without any agenda, or DJ Donnasummer without the rock riffs. This simply spins with an uncontained futuristic joy.
While the title itself is wry enough, just add sped-up vocals ala squirrels for a good time, all need apply. At times this has a hip-hop edge, at times this can be a bit full-tilt boogie exhausting, but stick with it and you will be rewarded by its hijinks. After giving this a full-on listen I’d love to hear Tipton collaborate with Jaap Blonk, imagine! There is hope for electronic music, if we dare. Bird whistles, babies, tumbling dice, playful pokes at smooth jazz and Lawrence Welk seem apropos for a good rewind – and Tipton breaks the glass ceiling on this instant nu-classic. Trust me…or not. 😉