Richard Chartier :: Other Materials (3Particles, CD)
In a compilation of thirteen tracks recorded 1999-2001 (five which are
previously unreleased) Richard Chartier unveils a set of sound
experiments on his own label, 3Particles. Based on finite minimalism
his beautiful statics have a foreign harmony and remote parallelism to
his visual works as a designer/painter. On the unreleased “Stat(ist)ic”
a dark and narrow corridor is affected and fades in and out of aural
consciousness. Other tracks are sheer silence and void, desolation and
calm, including 1999s bare bones “3Particles” – which would be an
interesting theme song for transcendental meditation. The pieces are
fleeting, and have an uncharacteristic glow in appearance, they speak to
the weary, the worn and the ambivalent. “Spec.sketch7″ (unreleased) has
the seasoning of open wire sine waves with a repeating low-fi percussive
treatment. This disc is for those headphone dreamers who can relate to
the tongues of dolphins perhaps. Its overall tension is all in the
awareness of the individual listener. To play this in a room with any
ambient sound spill would strip its intensity. A quizzical language
between composer and audience is created by way of its nominal, almost
subliminal conventions. The enchanting “Sent” almost sounds as though
it could be a distant vacuum cleaner, and vibrates with tactile chirping
and lots of headroom. Closing with the final unreleased track,
“Silver”, is an eight minute sweepingly dark cinematic score. Chartier
teaches that there is more to less in the subconscious.
Hagedorn :: Home Grown (CD by Kompakt)
Microfunk. Ambi-groove. Whatever you want to call it, it’s sweet and
sexy. Hagedorn is Cologne-based with Wolfgang Hagedorn
(Computerjockeys) at the helm. For some unbeknownst reason this disc
transports me back to the days of Fiorucci, chiseled cork heels and long
feathered blonde locks. Through the twists of punky funk Hagedorn
indulges his listener with pop hooks and electronic pumping heart beats.
“Electronic Music Machine” has the build up of any track by Underworld
or Crystal Method but keeps you poised for that blast of exhilarating
bass and effects, but hovers at the building point which creates a
brilliant tension. Complete with some short track interludes, the
free flowing spirit of Home Grown dares to integrate the electronic
minds of experimental dance sounds with paler vocal tracks like
“Inquieta” which seems a tad predisposed to the illuminated world of
Björk. A pretty piano-based conclusion comes on “Oblidow” complete with
a generous helping of crunchy static and sunshower sparkle. This is a
midnight record for joystickers and dayglo splattered urbans. Plenty of
cool attitude, with a west coast sensibility.
Tim Hecker :: Radio Amor (CD by Mille Plateaux)
Austere and sensitive, Tim Hecker is a shape shifter of highest caliber.
On Radio Amor he has presented an intensely crafted communication device
that combines mysterious tones and harmony. Treated electronics with a
sensitive side, very sensitive. This could be a space lullaby to some
standards, bearing the vague resemblance to other like micronaughts.
Though this has nothing in common with any known dance floor, it is a
profoundly atmospheric earful. In ten seamless tracks that are pretty
much a long playing continuum, there are moments of industrial tension
weighted evenly by divine stretches of ambient drone. From the static
filtered opening “Song of the Highwire Shrimper” to the muted feathery
vibes and masked of hum on the final cut, “Trade Winds, White Heat”,
Hecker creates a cyclical impact that courts us all the way through the
final wavering seconds.
- Mille Plateaux
Warmdesk :: Guero Variations (CD by Deluxe)
Guero Variations is drenched in cryptic metallic timbre and hypnotic
percussion. Warmdesk (William Selman) has just released a recording
that bears light, fusing it with a speckled foray of contained trill and
bounce. These nine tracks are akin to a color-field of infinite tones.
Based on composer Helmut Lachenmann’s piano piece “Guero” in which the
composer exclusively plays the interiors of his upright. This is
Selman’s attempt to de/reconstruct musique concrete making for an
interesting approach of modernizing the traditional instrument and
daring to split genre boundaries to make techno from a source with less
commercial potential. These Variations are silky smooth on the trained
Freeform :: Condensed (CD on Nonplace)
Freeform (Simon Pyke) continuously evolves its sound base. From its former funkier roots this has resonance and at times delivers purely ambient washes. This time around his work is given treatments by Burnt Friedman on the Nonplace imprint. These pieces have lift, kick and aura. A batch of quirky, jerky percussion and other assorted sounds blend with a certain Nintendo sensibility. Though this is not strictly the gaming sounds from beyond, Pyke has created an alternate space for introspection and cursory dalliance. His antics on “Phu Qouc” and throughout allot for eastern Asian influences with West Coast edges. This is great music to download for long walks on alien terrain. In what could seemingly be the decoding of language, the balance of lingual vs. beat is not forgotten. Freeform has planted a fine (and unearthly) seed.
Instruction Shuttle :: Open Sad Circuit (CD on Zenapolae)
Philly-based Instruction Shuttle (Todd Christopher) creates waves of sound information interpolated and bred in silencing tanks. This is a haunting experimental record. Open Sad Circuit has hints of Biosphere’s melodies and Lustmord’s dark chamber of secrets. Here, 13 individual tracks are layed out in a pattern. While this could have easily been one long mix, the production lends something to the individual segments. Titles like “Kevlar Family Album” and “Dustbunny” add a welcome sense of humor to an otherwise heady repertoire. Christopher creates a dilute world of watery mechanizations that veer and stray. This is not pop music, this is surreal surround sound for sophomores. The overall strength of this disc is that it just keeps spinning, testing noise language in leisurely paced movements.
Jan Jelinek avec The Exposures :: La Nouvelle Pauvreté (CD on ~Scape)
“Music to Interrogate By” is a finely tuned static tap dance, self-assured by its lyrical ambi-funk. La Nouvelle Pauvreté is a rich blend of so many things that make micro-electronic sound so sensual and approachable. Less glitchy and mellow, more upbeat yet subdued. “Facelift” is Jelinek’s prescription for patient alien bodies everywhere. Its airy, amorphous voices are vocoder-based entities stop-starting and cryptic. This is a wholly digital experience leading into a track illustratively titled “There Are Other Worlds (they have not told you of)”. Here Jelinek uses a humming male wordless vocal with a hint of Big Ben accompanied by a delicious distortion. Adding frilly melodramatics and a funky wit on “If’s, And’s and But’s,” the ear is treated to a stippled treat. One of the best yet from Monsieur Jelinek’s growing oeuvre.
- Scape Music
Moonbuggy :: Planet Lupo (CD on Doxa)
Dresden-based Doxa Records’ latest testament to “slacker electronics” is a psychedelic treasure hunt. Moonbuggy are a duo who use funky street beats, silly bloated horns and peculiar reverb. This is up-up-up music. Fun for the whole family! Though these guys know how to pace themselves – it is not all about jumping on to the dance floor to flail freakishly – they seem highly concerned about giving up few secrets while maintaining a quality buzz. This is present on “Dubby”, which functions like a crawling toddler toy, highlighted by its sensitivity to meter and time. There is an overriding jazz-based sensibility on “Wiesel”, with its Astrud Gilberto era lounge instrumentation. Still there are hints of Bauhausian complexity in the mix. “Rolla” is a cartoon’ish hyper play with dazzling squeaks and turns. My favorite track herein is undoubtedly the low-fi, funkified “Rodrow 7.1″. Planet Lupo has me dancing in my office chair to its off-center electro-pop melodies and accents of candy colored analogue synths. “Moonbuggy” (Karsten Genz and Mario Mensch) will travel far in this distant terrain.
Sten Hanson :: Text-Sound (Gems & Trinkets) (CD on Firework Editions)
These verbal slices of life range from Hanson’s trek from mid 60′s basement recordings to Y2K music festivals. Swede Sten Hanson was born in Klövsjö in 1936 and has been making art and sound since the early 60′s. While weaving sampled conversation and poetics Gems & Trinkets is about moments, glances, gestures…as Cartier Bresson attempted to capture the “perfect moment” as does Hanson in these short clips – though his approach has a less matter of fact outcome. At 73 minutes this 25 track disc is a welcomed addition to anyone’s collection of phonetics and to the larger world sound library.
These are excerpts from a much larger body of work, a retrospective of hints and traces – documentary proof of an experimental take on life. By using the spoken word as instrument, through repetition, layering voice on voice, and many other cleverly disguised techniques, Hanson emphasizes micro-tonality at every opportunity. He uses the voice of Che Guevara in a riveing short chant to his namesake, a commentary on his murder in 1967. “La Destruction de Votre Code Genetique par Drogues,” “Toxins et Irradiation” plays on lots of oral/lingual gymnastics and contractions thereof. This track, originally a painstakingly analogue tape splice piece dating back to 1969 was given a digital makeover in this version from 2001. One of Hanson’s 1983 ‘shamanistic’ performance pieces, “The New York Lament”, sounds like a tribe of pygmies learning the language of the new world, its sounds like a collection of curious critters and was originally performed in Vienna. “That Jackson is My Favorite Poet” is a phonetic play on line verse, repeating each word in different order over and over as an homage to Jackson McLow for his 75th birthday in 1977. I just love “Pronto, Pronto” with its flippant lip service and Chihuahua-like male voice fading from gruff to cheery in seconds.
Firework Editions does its very best to help chronicle this unique collection, and like, say, Jaap Blonk, there is no real pomp, but plenty of circumstance.
- Firework Editions
Meanest Man Contest :: Merit (CD on Plug Research)
Hmmmm. This isn’t at all the sorta…well…what is happening here? Hybrid rhythms and funky beats ‘tween maybe something you might come to expect from say, DJ Spooky crossed with the wires of Constellation Records and a lil’ jazzy hip-hop as the cherry on top. That’s Meanest Man Contest for ya. This concoction of bloated beats and awkward street smarts has enough guts to keep this reviewer stalled for a while. With so much of this contemporary penchant for genre -bending so splintered, it is no wonder this player takes on hooks from far and wide – I even heard some Siouxie and the Banshees in there – is that possible? I think producer Quarterbar is just playing with me. “I Have Changed My Plans” stands out by sampling dope nerdy voices with clever slacker syncopation and a truly sweet pop riff. Pack the plastic dinnerware and take this one out for a ride in the convertible (or perhaps even elevator sex). It has the subtle disjointed quality, life on the urban range never sounded like “Knock Knock”, rustlin’ up some low-fi grooves. Who’s this Eriksolo making an appearance on “The Most Intrusive Places”, dissing commerce (hey, a like-minded rapper – who knew?). The whole lot closes its doors with a lofty and introspective piece called “So Glad” which tempers the whole lot and makes it quite a neat little package. This might not be for diehards of any of the aforementioned lifestyle music categories – but it is worth a detour because it takes some chances.
- Plug Research
Duul_drv / Nibo / Vend :: Clean (CD by Line/12K)
Line is 12K’s even quieter imprint which releases microsounds that are, well, sort of the Ellsworth Kelly’s of the sound world we now live in. Clean is comprised of three parts by artists from different countries. First up are three tracks from duul_drv (S. Arden Hill) from Canada which have a spare, luminosity – almost unnoticeable, in moments by the naked ear. There is a crisp and washed out blend of white noise and found sound about these pieces. At once biomorphic Hill grows these incidental tones into extensions of a smaller, earthier, subatomic space. Tokyo’s Nibo is an audio-visual installation artist who has created three tracks that have a bare sine wave and distant pulsation. This 25 year old artist has been known to collaborate rightly with Carsten Nicolai. “Clean 3″ is evidence of life in distant uni-spheres, though it is only trace evidence. Cleverly this finite recording ducks and hides from the headphoned ear, only to evasively peek to be acknowledged. Barely audible and certainly to be relished by those turned on by other releases by Bernard Gunter and like composers. The third artist showcased here is the UK duo known as Vend (Alex Peverett and Joe Gilmore). “Squat”, fissure-sized sounds so faint you will be hellbent on anticipating each peak. I am breathing in light and breathing out frequencies. I become physically involved by Clean‘s sheer pitch and other headphonics. Staying true to their overview of contemporary minimal music, 12K makes an impeccable connection between these three artists, in a world the size of a pinhead.
Pulseprogramming :: Tulsa for One Second (CD on Aesthetics)
Hush now. Joel Kriske and Marc Hellner started Pulseprogramming, a collective of sound and visual artists, in Portland, OR and relocated to Chicago where they added filmmakers, artists and poets. In ways they may fill the vacancy left behind by formerly like-minded Icelandians gusgus. On Tulsa for One Second we are treated to a dreamlike surrealism of sweet voice and the pure intermix of digital and analogue. This disc is a blend of pleasing harmonics and good intuition. Like a beautiful, sensuous light, this recording envelops your senses and has just the right level of mysterious chemistry. “Laregely Long-Distance Loves” is a track to play all night long to incite sound dreams, it has the feeling of a primetime commercial in the spirit of Dirty Vegas or Moby, without the stadium tour or beer spillage. Light pulsations, chromatic, shiny and driven. At times I feel like I am listening to an updated, sedated Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.
Tu m’ :: Pop Involved (CD on Fallt/Ferric)
Italian sound artists Tu m’ are up to something. Something quite clever indeed. This full-length disc incorporates 14 tracks, all quite plotted and somehow free sounding. These somewhat prolific artists have been known to dabble in single sound sources like glass, though here they take their blend of microelectronics to a much layered place, sounds of comic industry, airy blips and incidental beats. This release just plain floats and drifts at times and then uses a series of complex manipulated filters and gadgets to create unique atmospheres that do not rip off other like-minded artists – this is a dedicated new voice on the horizon. There is a wise blend of trad-Japanese strings that get channeled into the glitch in a ‘look mom no hands’ way. Sounds like a harmonium in an opium den. There are some fleeting circus antics and other alternate effects and maybe even some artificial intelligence. This is evolved sound for the post Logan’s Run generation, like the way we once envisioned things that became, say, the microwave oven, the G4Cube or even the Segue. The whirring zip of choppy resonant bursts pave the way for a brighter patterned repetitive mix. The closing track, with its dizzying Steve Reich-like delay/repeat, leaves the listener wondering about a sequel.
Fallt is building a curio cabinet of curated sound, a finer selection for those with advanced aural taste in those things which are minute and sculpted, finite and organic, digital and informed. Pop Involved is one of those rare limited edition releases that is a must for any fan of Daniel Menche to Goem to Zoviet France to Kim Cascone.
Various Artists :: Nowe:le (CD on Vivo Records)
The tag line on the back of this disc reads “the psyhedelica ambience to the coldness of computers into ethnical ex-perimetronics via the Texan desert”. On this compilation Poland’s Vivo Records brings together artists from Japan, the US and Poland in what sounds like a pretty promising set to base other like collections in the future. Opening with Maciek Szymczuk’s track “Uruk,” the listener is immediately bathed in a vibration of quiet, sensitive harmony with just the right amount of hiss and crackle. Japanese soundsters Filmfilter and Atsuo Kumagai offer their unpredictable “Nonstopfilm” which sounds like a muted, contorted remix of Squarepusher, with some aural two-stepping The beat is, the beat is, the beat is furious and flavorful. At about midpoint the track shifts to include moan and groan grinding and tinkly bells and offbeat meandering. Let’s do the time warp again. The first of three tracks by US-based Yume is “Born In Spring” which is a very, very quiet lullaby, almost an aphorism. Their track “C4″ is a haunted, winding soundtrack to perhaps a lost forest. It crawls and creeps with the subtle essence of a music box in the background. This could have been sound editing scrapped from the Blair Witch Project, it has an assumed horror. Poland’s Zenial / Palsecam vs. Maciek Szymczuk offer “There’s No Way”, in the class of those on imprints such as ~scape, Mille Plateaux and Raster-Noton. It’s uplifting presence is warm and glowing and filled with all sorts of microsoundscapes. Phasmid offers two tracks here.. “Mehr Licht” is a slow boiling ambient wash meets sleepy lounge beat rhythm. The collection also includes warped tracks by Shapethrower and Alphabet1.
Kk Null :: Erg Per Galaxy (CD by Opposite Records)
Suffern NY’s Opposite Records has released the latest from the ever-morphing world of Kazuyuki K. Null. Recorded between 2001-02 this ten-track is like spacetime continuum. Breaking sound barriers, traveling at light speed, you name it. This is a filtering stretch of contained and somehow harmonious white noise. The metallic tones have screechy blurred edges but sound like some prototype for a future flotation technology. This is science fiction. This is Pink Floyd and Dr. Who meeting in the Land of the Lost. I am grinning listening to this. Circular rhythms seemingly at their outermost edge, a blast-off, hoses out of control, damn broken and watery destruction ensuing. Am I reading too much into this or is this a modern day sound drama minus the actors? And that’s just track one. To me this disc represents newly discovered territory for Null, though the man has been at it an awfully long time, this is a breakthrough – a channeling of complex timbre and sub-harmonic exploration. He may be our modern day Sun Ra or maybe he has just evolved to a higher interplanetary system where his fingers are sensing the voices from the residual dusts of alien static. The steady pitter patter of an engine becomes a multi-channeled communication device and is short circuited suddenly by warbling, technological jargon gone haywire – still maintaining the clear direction of its leader. With full respect to recent rockets in spaces never flown, this is never crash ‘n’ burn. Null has warped and transcended himself in a brilliant light on ERG per Galaxy.
Rework :: Fall Right Now (CD by Playhouse)
Rework is a French/German/Hungarian quartet. This outfit reminds me of a contemporary Liquid Liquid with its vibes and repetitive androgyny. They sing (or hint) of love, and its endless contentions. They use old scratchy record samples and sing of Sharon Tate on the catchy Not Quite Like Any Other which has singer Laetitia sounding like a modern-day Velvet Underground-era Nico. Having taken Chris and Cosey’s October Love Song and reprocessed it, it’s now a Frenglish’ 80s glossy pop hit with essence au dub haus on a hot tin roof. This record is a lazy day clash of the sensibilities previously brought forth by likely candidates Stereo Total and Ladytron with a finite gusto and exhilaration, in a pop-trip package take on modern melody. “I Think You Think” reminds me of something you might have heard live by Lene Lovich or Romeo Void circa 1983, but add an edge of perhaps X Ray Spex for good measure. These people have a great sensibility for musics that had impact and will gain them a long shelf life ahead. Fall Right Now is almost a dance record but keeps a safe distance from being too accessible, coming closest to dance floor rhythmics on “Loin de Moi” with its penchant for pulsations. Boppy, trippy fun disc filled with something to please a crowd of frowny faces. This is a great pre-Summer record, serve chilled – but make no mistake buddy, this ain’t no appetizer – this is a full-course spin
Nobukazu Takemura :: Songbook (CD by Bubblecore Records)
Bubblecore has found a new spirit that is Nobukazu Takemura. Here the seasoned veteran plays with strings, child-like humming, jazzy horns and percussion. In interesting contrast to Scope (Thrill Jockey) this dischas a more irreverent operatic feel. There are toy vibes and pianos and playful carnival themes illustrated by amateurish Japanese sing-song awkwardness. In a more pedestrian approach Takemura blends Stereolab-styled comfort with the academic stiffness of a third year Julliard cellist. “The Spirit of Songbook” is the theoretical collision of found-sound, recycled vocals and classical meets jazz string arrangements, with a touch of distant attitude. This new found fascination has only been hinted at in his former recordings, however, on this disc he lets too much in the open, the mystery gets lost surviving in brief passages and on the stand out track “Palabra of the Inky Black Manteau”. This fusion of Herb Alpert meets David Byrne’s Knee Plays vs Sesame Street might play well in Williamsburg or even on Berwick Street, but here there is a tepid imbalance of expectation to be open to anything goes.
I think this is the typical fate of the biting-more-than-you-can-chew-syndrome – however, if you listen closely you will hear the core intricacies of Takemura’s former self. Mind you, Takemura is a talented, bright performer. Having seen his work live twice I have witnessed some form of magic on stage – some mystical balance between an icy presentation and a molten outcome. This is not a bad record – to the contrary – it is just a major left turn of sorts. It’s almost as though he had wanted to re-invent those unfamiliar worlds similar to say The Grassy Knoll who have successfully created funky and distorted jazzy phrasings with the best knob twiddled intentions. Still I see some deeper-rooted jazz being growing. Perhaps Takemura needs a dual residency with Ornette Coleman. There are some weird similarities, and some scary ones. This disc is worth a second spin, even while wearing a second skin. Good luck if you can crack the nut inside.
Tape 10 (CD by Ware Records)
This is the type of disc that steals my consciousness. The melding between the visual and sound arts is central to my nervous system. Based on photographic work these ten soundsters create a lot of atmosphere. Markthalle by Markus Güntner responds to a eerily green, late night and empty parking lot in a photographic work by Adrian Bischoff. The sounds are bass filled and like long steps, droopy and slow. Benjamin Brunn developed Propeller, his perky lounge track after a work by Frank Hülsbömer. In the image we witness a neo-Bauhausian apartment/hotel-like complex with a five-pronged streetlight that could be a Suessian helicopter (or even a palm tree). It is back to static clicks and cut, pops and crackles, and it all sounds good. Laub’s tinkering track, Bangkok, has a weightless and somewhat agitated feel. The gentle nervous rocking, the rain and impending storm make “Decomposed Subsonic’s Aqua” a real live set, almost a sound stage. Jeremy P. Caulfield’s “OK” is based on a C-Print by Kai Peters which depicts a sandy camping outpost and the casual candid backs of a family headed in for a rest perhaps. The need for this convergence of visual fine arts and sounds finds delight in only a few fully realized forums these days, but Ware has put together an audio-visual language, or as they say in their booklet “music plus image equals atmosphere”.
Mathias Schaffhäuser responds to a juicy green homey image of jarred dill pickles on a similarly colored checkered table. “Gurken” is at once a stark reverberation and toys with the playful guise visualized by photographer Karsten Handke. How sweet the sound. To have a fuller experience you can visit their virtual gallery at Tape 10.
- Tape 10
Veer :: Lideskape (CD on Source Records)
A light purring, whirring distant static storm intros this new Source Records release. Veer is Ole Schulte who has created some subtle reverb, some paced and washed out slacker rhythms. The overall feel is congruous to a night of endless creative insomnia. This is what contemporary sound is about. There is a quiet distance, nothing offensive or inclusive. One cannot really immerse themselves in this, nor is it intended to be witnessed as a spectacle. It is something you can sense, plain and simply a traveling sound source. At times the beat is contemplative and at once upbeat, though the overall emphasis here is on continuum, the road ahead. This is my first exposure to the work of Veer and hopefully not my last. Great sounds for reclining and staring through space.
Edward Ka-Spel :: O’er A Shalabast’r Tyde Strolt Ay (CD on Beta-Lactam
The subtlety of ambience and its new dawn in works such as this by
Legendary Pink Dots crooner/experimentalist Ka-spel has drained the
final pool of piloted fancy. This man has traveled to and from places
that only those in Orwellian detox ever go in this orchestrated
soundplay. The tinkling keys of a toy piano, the rapture of a
swirly-grinning haberdasher, the illumination of a brilliantly
distracted menace – all these faded dancers build the awkward musings on
the multi-part opening, “An Ill Wind.” The piece goes from Close
Encounters to Treasure Island to the deepest congo in simple
transitional passages. There are samples of and/or real acoustic
instrumentation alongside tv/radio broadcasts, synth washes and pretty
piano minuets. Ka-Spel curiously narrates some on this 23 minute track
as if he were an ancient captain at high sea. “O’Riley’s Comet” is a more
contemporary cut-up post techno swirl of bits and pieces. This piece
simmers down in a cauldron of filtered buzz and muffled voices. The
consecration is imparted on “Safer Than The Open”, a quiet, atmospheric
piece with hushed sequencers. More of an open ended treatment of space
than a strict indulgence. This recording has raised my eyebrows to this
artist after having been scorched and shredded on previous releases.
This is almost a fleeting exodus to some of his earlier work. Though
the edge remains intact while he tries new styles an experiments. O’er
A Shalabast’r.. is an active recording, it will keep you listening through
its full 46 minutes, a three-track cluster of resonant spirits flying,
peaking and fading softly into the abyss.
- Beta-Lactam Ring
Scanner :: Publicphono (CD by Mr.Mutt Records)
In a short edition of only 200 copies the first release on Mr.Mutt
Records is what will certainly become an incredible live cdr series put
out by Italian composers known as tu m’. Recorded live at Prix Italia’s
After Radio events in Rimini Italy in late 2000, Scanner (Robin Rimbaud)
was commissioned to create this piece to be broadcast on their public
speaker system. His use of sampling radio broadcasts beckoned back to
the establishment of the 52 year old organization. An obvious complement
to the festive occasion had Scanner presenting the work for which he has
been grown best known for – combining sounds and voice scans and
electronics to be heard in a public forum.
A re-processing of older spoken word recordings taken from their
original source and now born as a horizon line for the cross section
between documentarian technique and aesthetic fare. Rimbaud has prepared
a new colloquialism, a merge of vocabularies. This particular piece was
broadcast on the beach to anyone in earshot, out into the sea. The sheer
fact that the broadcast took place in a natural environment further
deconstructs its initial context. There is a blend of sultry Italian
tongues and steely Kraftwerkian voiceboxes (minus the funk). This is a
very serious, almost clinical, recording that is bathed in a dramatic
soundscape of light vibes and tactile vibrations, filters and the
Scanner has become synonymous as a creator of recordings
derived from man-made technology sound sources and their junction with
the human voice. On Publicphono he has truly used the spirit of silence
to great effect. At times the illusion takes me on a trip from NASA to
an Italian airport to archaic newsreels. In other moments this recalls
some of the best work from the early/mid 90s EM:T label. This is a pure
exploration of the nuances of contemporary electronics as chamber music.
There is a uniquely passionate and disjointed symphonic quality about
one half hour into this 40 minute single track which travels in an out
of private and public space. Rimbaud has inaugurated a new era in
genre-bending with his Y2K recording.
Beequeen :: A Touch of Brimstone (CD by Korm Plastics)
Beequeen (Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar) have released A Touch of Brimstone the newest stealth recording from a powerfully growing discography. Comprised of ten tracks this collection includes never before released recordings from their vaults dated from 1989 through 1996. The din is enterprising, the pacing is primordial. The immediate impact of the overall work is stunningly thought-provoking. The tracks slow the body while listening, paving a sense of raw comatose. The voice on “Rainhas des Abelhas”, one of their very first constructed pieces for 4-track, is Dennis Cooper, sounding like a lecturer from a 1940s instructional radio broadcast. Several of the “Meta Phase” tracks here were noise experiments created for a photo installation piece by Erik van Wesserloo back in 1991. Look for Beequeen’s inclusion on the Tribryd Installation Soundtracks due in the Spring on Beta-lactam Ring Records. The title track is somewhat of a cross between sine waves and feedback, with a plotting background and seething high-pitched center. On Suite 31-28 the sounds are based on concepts of warmth and temperature. Its defiance of literalness makes it a more watchful listen. The experiment is in our mind, the perfectly blended sonic weave of protection is a figment of our imagination A Touch of Brimstone presents a language all its own, on par with SOS or artificial intelligence. The art of noise is clear.
- Staalplaat Cordell Klier :: Apparitions (CD by Ad Noiseam)Ghostly slow-wave clicks filtered and smooth, like a mid summer campfire with just the faint crackle of the elements, or snowflakes melting in mid air. This is the new disc by Codell Klier. Complete with low cadence cling-clang this recording represents the full-on richness of what can be developed within the realm of microsound. Chilly, staged observances of minute sounds amplified for to bracing effect. This reminds me of a monitoring satellite, far beyond the solar reaches, powered and static. This sounds like a field recording from some interplanetary cosmos, absorbing your attention through atomic discourse. Klier steeps your ears and ferments your mind.
Stephan Mathieu :: Gigue, Live @ A-Musik (CD by Fällt)Why did Muskrat Love pop into my head upon listening to this disc? Maybe it is the north pole to its south? Who knows. Upon first listen to this impeccably live recording I was a bit distracted by the huge windstorm that blew a tree over in front of my studio, cracked from its roots. The marriage between the live elements in my life and those on this disc had a certain resonance. The crackly palette of whirring buzz rounded the edges of my afternoon. Fällt, the year old Irish label has made such a jump start in the world of curating the highest quality electronic noise, I am ever mused by their take on the future of sound. This disc, in particular, has big, wide definition, it clears your head and opens new pathways by incorporating a genuinely beat free contemporary whitewall symphony. At just about one half hour Gigue, Live takes its listener into ominous crevices, lifts them higher and channels a stream of unyielding din that releases you in its finality. This two-track disc has a necessary silence in between the dissonance of
track one. Left with a low hum Variation the ears have a respite from the spontaneous sound ride we had just gotten off. I still feel me skin vibrating. Since these are all limited to 500 copies I recommend making your inquiry early on.
- Fällt eM :: Outward (CDEP by Foundry/Hypnos)The second in a new EP series by Foundry is a 3-track atmospheric gem by label director eM (Michael Bentley). This exploratory disc has so much compact conceptualism housed in its short 21 minute format. As it opens a haunting “From The Earth” smirks back at Eno’s classic Music for Airports, in its open range, free flight – or in this case its more float. Harmonically based in sci-fi premise, the quietly engaging “Across the Milky Way” guides its passengers on a galactic joy ride. Though this ride is measured and gaged and monitored. I can’t help getting the feeling of surveillance. Or having that physical experience of knowing there is another human in your living space when the television is on. There is something about breaking in and out of electrical signal here. As the disc closes with “Beyond the Magellanic Clouds” the miniscule pops seem amplified to 10000 times their size. The piece draws to an end as these tiny spheres collect as a pool of electrons, break free and vanish.
- Foundry Site
Janek Schaefer :: His Master’s Voice(CD by audiOh!)
This is Schaefer’s first ever recording using the completely live process of the Tri-Phonic Turntable dated back to 1997. I opened the
hand numbered, very limited edition, hand lathed vinyl which comes with an additional CD-r to delight. Subtle sophistication, black on black printing, the packaging is artfully subdued. The sound ranges from electronic ocean waves and open static electricity to the title track which is a Plunderphonic collage, Schaefer’s first in this style. We hear T.S. Elliot reading from a mono-based extract of a mid 1940s poem as Schaefer manipulates the tone arms, plays with speeds and other sound differentials. The finished piece is stunningly open and warm, almost like a scientific technician explaining his process to a class. It’s hard to easily capture the larger sonicism on this recording, but it is a perfect example in some real basic audio differences between vinyl and CD. The warmth, the crackle, the hiss, all seem more cozied up in bed with you here as the translucent grooves spin. We are treated to sci-fi anthems and warped, “woodpeckery” perky percussion. Steamy, filtered blasts of fine hosed air, billowing out and sucking in. It’s so crisp and clean. Sounds like a lab at the edge of an island. Schaefer himself has painstakingly put the package together and to lustrous effect. Get ‘em while there hot (off the press)!
Various Artists :: Clicks & Cuts 3(CDx2 by Mille Plateaux)German label Mille Plateaux, the powerhouse of mimimal experimental electronica, has unveiled its new Clicks & Cuts 3, becoming the latest in a continuum of its series dedicated to all the smaller, finite, mini sounds around. Included here is a veritable who’s who of the genre. No called anything from click/cut to microsound to techno redux to my preferred, beatless, this collection of buzz, hiss and static has a delicious creamy center. Tracks are included by Alva Noto, Michel Stavöstrand, Swayzak, Tim Hecker, Atom Heart’s Geeez N’ Gosh and many others. From what is evidenced herein the sounds are expanding and exploding. Funkier, deeper beats this time around. There is a concentration on breath and voice in tracks from artists like SND to
Luomo. Claudia Bonarelli’s contribution “Disarm The Police” has a
pulse-pace, slow-slow-quick-quick-slow. This double disc has street
smarts and attitude, unlike its colder, sharper predecessors. But with
this new found freedom there may be a certain rejection of what was
previously built into differentiating this series from others. Or maybe
the dialogue has just opened up wide and said AHHHHH! A nice surprise
is a piece by Boris Polonski which just takes formula and screws around
with it. Having fun with a Mouse on Mars vs. Wurlitzer aesthetic, a
happy lil’ theme peeps up behind all the sporadicism. I find this
blending finely right into the always startling and fun sound-art work
of DAT Politics’ on ‘Bubble Queen’ with its compu-voices stretched and
tweaked ala Richard James and/or V/VM. Deru (Benjamin Wynn) re-enacts
what could seemingly be a full functioning lung in his big bellowing
“Migrade” which has a tender thematic approach. Frankfurt-based
composer and educator, Ekkehard Ehlers offers a nice surprise, an
abstract and droned-out wash of dulled pastel sounds, with a recycled
feel, an end of the day stressed out letting go, a Nyquil-infused hybrid
of sound noise. The theme, if there is one, is lighter-on-your-feet
fractured techno beats with well oiled heels planted firmly in a time
machine destined to strut somewhere in the future.
Clicks & Cuts 3 is a unique experiment in equivalents, making a universal association of artists based on several continents. It’s post-disco, post language barrier. This recording seems to blend “old skool” clicks/cuts with a sultry beat of divine rhythms as clearly evidenced in the warm down tempo ‘Lovers Inn’ by Antonelli Electr. Tim Hecker’s “Brownwedding” weaves sonic sewing machines and a trail of suppressed voice with a peculiarly micro-hidden dance beat. Though many tracks paraphrase what Berlin producer Pole (Stefan Betke) has been doing for several years, the “sound of right now” is just all warm and fuzzy – perfect for these
Warmdesk :: The Pride of the South Side, Live @ WHPK(CD by Fällt)Another marvel in the Fällt line (ltd ed 500 from Fällt Live Series).
Chicago’s Warmdesk (Bill Selman) addresses concerns on both sides of the
new millennium’s abstract dance floor. He resorts to keeping the themes
multi-tiered, with a few stylistic things going on simultaneously. You
are treated to the sensual warmth of low pulse beats while hearing
someone rummaging in your junk drawer, or toy chest. “Non-Profit, 100
Watts” imposes repetitive beats that are emphasized and invigorated by
playful liquids and what could be industrial staplers and other found
sounds. There seems to be no particular stipulation to the overt
freeform nature where aural meets textural on this disc. On “Non
Commercial, 88.5 FM” these various channels reflect our speed culture and
emphasize that people keep moving when we don’t, action occurs by way of
both improvisation and restraint. This is a perky, quirky river of
static play with many spectral streams.
Bob Bellerue :: Threat Level Charlie(CD by Anarchymoon Recordings)Out of nowhere comes a dramatically empowered recording by LA-based
sound artist and performer Bob Bellerue. Using glass, metal and other
electronics as the sound sources Bellerue is a physical performer with
no regrets. His work here is akin to other such experimenters as Aube,
Knurl and a touch of Brume. Sounds like an evil potion – but this is
far from evil. Its magic recipe is in its sporadic sense of
improvisation and drama. The composition is blindly organic and
freeform truly made of ingredients, formulated through its base
structure and all its singular elements coming together, clashing at
times. There are mind numbing screeches and quieting intervals of
solace. He has used broadband noise developed from speeches by George
Bush and Osama bin Laden and distorted them beyond recognition into the
overall final mix. Winning top honors at this year’s Centre de Cultura
Contemporànea de Barcelona Bellerue’s sound collage of homemade
instruments and noise have a big presence. The final piece is made of
four interlocking tracks, clocking in at about 45 minutes, that are raw
and capture a live sound. He calls it “poetic terrorism” and I call it
an aural mind bomb. For fans of Nocturnal Emissions and Illusion of
- Half Normal
Various Artists :: Lowercase-Sound 2002 (CD by Bremsstrahlung Recordings)A deluxe package these boys have boxed for us. Not only do you get a
2xCD set but you get a duplicate set (just like their 1st edition of
this series) to give away to the bud of your choice. This would
ordinarily be a good thing – but here it is pretty amazing. Why do I
say this? Because you would be exposing the unexposed to the sounds of
the moment with artists like Dan Abrams, Carl Stone, Francisco Lopez,
Tetsu Inoue, Taylor Deupree, Reynols, Kim Cascone and John Hudak
included here among others. The finished package comes in a nicely
designed box with delicate transparent sheets, each supplying
information and quips about the tracks. Like 12Ks intimate Line Series
disc one (subtitled 789 breaths) is a real headphone listen. The quiet
atmospheres from Gal and Josh Russell simply merge into one another
fluidly. It’s not until Dale Lloyd’s “Fleeting Recollections of the
Snow Plain” that a certain static is generated that, in barely audible
tonalities, nudges the dome of silence. Seattle’s Matt Shoemaker
contributes the super subtle “Charm”, with the resonance of the halo of
a sulfuric asteroid. In its low whistling drone its cinema is defined
through its mid-track emergence and fizz, weighted and searching. On
“m” Electric Company (Brad Laner) takes all that Los Angeles attitude
for granted in its subversion of the beat. This completely ambient
track has a vaguely organic and endless horizon line. Closing disc one
is Hudak’s “Radio Past” in which the source is an unknown wax cylinder
recording, maybe filtered, deliberately translucent – like a marching
band in a can! As disc two (194,415,960 samples) emerges from the
silence of Francisco Lopez and Otaku Yakuza we are instantaneously rapt
by Akira Rabelais’ “Disjectimembrapoetaeeatelich” a vernacular is built
from static electricity. Its mini rumblings are harmonized and
multiplied, dissected and set free. Saarbrücken-based Stephan Mathieu
serves the infectious and repetitive duplicative “Flake” made up of
millions of teeny tiny particles of sound. Diapason Gallery director
and New York-based composer Michael Schumacher’s “Still” is anything but
what the title infers. This quirky track sends numerous ecstatic sound
bubbles into the environment to implode, retract, multiply and move
rapidly about. The symphonic chamber of Japan-based Carl Stone rings on
the laptop created “Tefu”. The completely digital track has an organic
core and a shifting modality of happenstance. Taylor Deupree’s “Inharmil”
breathes by way of timed apparatus. In its construction there is the
low fidelity rumble of what cautiously sounds like a distant factory
with a flat bed engine and conveyor belt on auto-run. There are subtle
sharp flashes of fizzling sparks, and the rest is atmosphere. Kim
Cascone, the man who coined the term ‘microsound’ searches and finds the
convex and concave on “Edge Boundry #1″. What sounds like an electronic
jungle way past midnight seems to undress itself with an awkward
precision, a known conclusion. Sensuous glitch for the masses.
The fullest track here is “Groundwater” by Sweden’s Jonas Lingren based on
the dramatic floods and breaking dams in Sundsvall 2001. Here he has
truly captured a live entity and embellished its roaring nature. This
set may scare some, and may induce others to sleep – but by far it is
one of the highest quality collections of the year, taking needed risks
with a developing genre.
- Lowercase Sound
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
Fon :: Tding(Werkzeug)Obliteration 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?)..
Richard 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).
Polwechsel/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.
Reynols :: 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
Taa-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.
- TaaPet Sounds
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.