Alberto Boccardi – Petra / Alexandra Spence – Blue Waves, Green Waves / PINKCOURTESYPHONE – All Intensive Purposes

Posted: 6 July 2022 in Albums
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ROOM40 – June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I feel like I’ m forever playing catchup. The simple fact is, there are more new releases – and remarkably good ones at that – than there are hours in the day to listen to them all. I can’t bee the only one who sees friends on FaceBook posting about how they’re loving the new album by X, Y. and Z, and who gets asked if they’ve head / what they think to this, that, or the other and wonder ‘how the hell do you actually listen to all this?’ These people must listen to music 24/7 and possess three pairs of ears by which to listen to all of this music simultaneously, or something.

Admittedly, it doesn’t help that my dayjob doesn’t really afford much opportunity for listening while I work, so I really only have a spell while cooking dinner, and evening, which, after everything else, tend to start around 10pm.

And so, presented with anything up to thirty new releases a day in my inbox, I simply can’t listen to everything, and I deeply envy those who can, and seemingly do.

One particular source of guilt, for wont of a better word, is my inability to keep up with ROOM40 releases. They may only be number three or four a months, but they’re invariably interesting, exploratory, intriguing. And tend to warrant for more detailed analysis than I can reasonably offer. Hence a summarising catch-up for the label’s June releases, on the day July’s have just landed with me.

Alberto Boccardi’s Petra (released on tape) is a comparatively short album of intense electronic drones: consisting of just five tracks spanning around thirty-two minutes, is sparse, ominous, sonorous, predominantly mid-range but with some stealthy bass and sonorous, trilling organs. Recorded over several years and partly inspired and assembled while Boccardi was resident in Cairo, it’s both chilling and soporific, it’s an intriguing minimal work.

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Blue Waves, Green Waves by Alexandra Spence isn’t receiving a physical release, and is an altogether different proposition. As the tile suggests, the ocean provides the primary inspiration, and sure enough, it begins with the sound of crashing waves, but this soon recedes to the background, while analogue organ sounds ebb and flow as the backdrop to low-key spoken word pieces. Noters drip and drop and hover in suspension like droplets of water hanging from leaves before their inevitable yielding to gravity, sliding off and into a puddle. ‘Air Pockets’ sloshes and sploshes, reverberating against empty plastic pipes. The flatness of sound and the shifting of tones as they bubble and sploosh is the aural equivalent of close reading, interrogating a source to microcosmic levels.

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‘All intensive purposes’ is one of those (many) misspeaks that drive me fucking crackers. And this release by there inexplicably—monikered ‘Pinkcourtesyphone’ is an album likely to frustrate and bend the brain, albeit for different reasons. With the exception of the final mid-album interlude, ‘Out of an Abundance’, these are darkly mellifluous drones that stretch well beyond the five-minute mark, and ebb and flow slowly amidst rumbles and reverberating snippets of conversation and radio. The mood is tense, unsettling; not creepy, so much as just uncomfortable, spine-tingling, ominous, and at times, other-wordly.

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Some will likely find something in one or another of these, while others will doubtless find all three of these releases to be of interest and collectively, they do very much provide a broad, wide-ranging view of matters experimental and ambient, presenting different perspectives of found sound and field recording. It’s credit to ROOM40 for giving space to these artists, and showcasing such a range of music from within what may, on the surface, appear a narrow field, and demonstrating otherwise.

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