Posts Tagged ‘Abstract’

Editions Mego – EMEGO305 – 28th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

BJ Nilsen’s focus has long been the ‘sound of nature, the nature of sound and the effects these have on humans’, and his exploratory collages and soundscapes tend to draw of field recordings and myriad other sources to create often contrasting, and dissonant works, and Irreal is very much dissonant and contrasting, with moments of tranquillity and subtle, quivering elongated drones disrupted by battering blasts of difficult noise.

The liner notes outline how ‘Irreal is a selection of recordings from different situations encountered in Austria, Russia, South Korea and The Benelux. The range of sound is as wide as is the emotional impact which slides from the unnerving to the shimmering and gor- geous. Doors, bells, birds, wet snow falling from a tree, hacking of wood, water dripping in a cave are all exquisitely captured and moulded into vast landscapes of sound. Human voices, string instruments, descending trains, oceans, winds, grass, trees. These diverse sonic elements are grafted around and upon each other to create a rich tapestry of sound. Electronic embellishments harness the whole to create a singular expressive canvas. The 3 part suite concludes with the Beyond pebbles, rubble and dust, a grand glacial work which serves as a masterclass in extraordinary transcendental drone.’

I’m instantly primed for some challenging scraping drones as the first few seconds of ‘Short Circuit of the Conscious Thought’ build tense, treble scratches, and am immediately puzzled when it halts and there are just clicks in silence. It’s as if the file has inexplicably glitched. From the quiet, a trilling, rippling drone emerges and hangs like a haze – but that smooth stillness carries a tension, which ruptures with distortion and bands like a dozen car doors slamming simultaneously, and at the most unexpected of times. In the final minutes, it evolves into a slow-pulsing minimal ambient Krautrock sequence reminiscent of Tangerine Dream.

Rumbling thunder cracks and crackles all around at the start of ‘Motif Mekanik’, and it booms and grumbles all around a low, ominous drone, and the track is a tumbling tempest of amorphous noise like a raging storm circling and hovering, drifting back and forth, and it’s unsettling. The contrast of the sounds of the elements and the metallic scrape of the eternal drone is perhaps the most obvious way in which Nilsen highlights the relationship between nature and humans, the man-made and the organic. It also intimates the tensions at the heart of that relationship, as strains of ear-splitting feedback cut through the murk and mumble, and it segues quietly into the expansive final composition, the monumental thirty-eight minute ‘Beyond Pebbles, Rubble, and Rust’ – and I know ‘immersive’ is a word I probably use excessively, but it’s entirely appropriate as I find myself swimming amidst the thick, slow—moving sounds of the piece.

Lazy bleeps, like R2D2 on a low battery or the Clangers on ketamine bibble into the mix, before fading out to a drifting mist of dark rumblings that present not immediate routes into the heart of dark mass, only an impenetrable mass of sound, like a mountain rising to the heavens, its summit hidden by a low cloud base. A low bass registers almost subliminally, a single note repeated slow and regular, booming out dolorously. Not a lot happens over a very long time, but the effect is cumulative, and as you sit and stare while the drones and spectral wails of ambience envelop, you find yourself in contemplation and searching for the meaning.

There are all shades of reality, spanning the unreal and the hyperreal. But the irreal is not real. However, where the irreal is distinct from unreal lies in the perception – not just something unreal, but estranged and otherly. In drawing on so many found sounds and field recordings, Nilsen’s album is in fact rooted in the tangibly real, bur recontextualises it, shifting the axes so as to present that reality through the filter of human intervention and incongruity, and as such, distorts that reality to present an interpretation which in turn becomes a fiction and therefore not real, or irreal.

As the rain hammers outside on this early July night, following a day of heavy storms, it occurs to me that what Nilsen articulates through his sonic juxtapositions, is that the relationship between human and nature is precarious: we, as a species, are not nature’s friends, and that progress is disruptive and often damaging – and it’s the human way to command, control, and harness nature for our own ends. But that superiority is an illusion, a delusion, and humanity will always be at nature’s mercy. The relationship is not interdependent or symbiotic, and we need the natural world , whereas it does not need us. In time, we may reach a point where our planet is uninhabitable to us, and to many other species, but it will exist long after we have ceased to, just as it did before. Darkness descends, and at the close, the album tapers to silence – and this is as it will be.

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Panurus Productions – 4th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Fading Tapes: a moniker that casts allusions to degradation, the wear and fade through the passage of time, the notion of impermanence and the significance of medium – because the medium isn’t only the message, it’s the determining factor in the lifespan of a record, whereby digital is supposedly forever, but analogue corrodes, deteriorates, and ultimately becomes unusable.

A Cartographer is one who draws or makes maps, and Fading Tapes’ latest work is, ins ways, both map and territory. The titles of the four tracks sketch out the features of the locations in the most minimal of forms – and these aren’t necessarily natural geographical landforms or biomes, but remains of human activity left marking the landscape.

The sequencing of the four compositions, each of which span around fifteen minutes apiece, very much create the sensation that the listener is being guided on a journey, and there is a clear linearity to Cartographer.

Opener ‘East Valley’ calls us to the ritual with an insistent tribal drumming and wailing pipe before… actually, before what the fuck? It’s not so much a building of layers of sound as it is a jet plane flying overhead, devastating the image of a hidden tribe enacting an ancient, esoteric ritual. And this is the dynamic of the piece – ancient collides with modern, and as immense gongs and cymbals crash, ringing out into an expansive desert, unchanged for centuries, hidden from the march of technology and evoking a deep-seated spirituality, the disruptions are deep incisions that disrupt without care for the existing habitat. But over time it’s the soft, supple droning ambience and wordless vocal tones that ring out into a spacious echo that come to dominate. For once, nature, and the old world, wins out as so-called progress falls by the wayside: the valley remains unconquered.

‘Bones’ is a more contemporary-sounding drone work, with conventional western percussion propelling a deep, dark surge of slow-burning desert rock that’s slowed to a the pace of drifting dunes, and the sound is dense. The snare rings out into a cavern of reverb – it’s almost dubby, but it’s accompanied by wailing feedback, that does on, and on, and endless mid-range drones. We learn little, if anything, of the bones themselves, or their origins, but there is a sense that there is little interest in the real detail of the past, and that a sketched narrative is all that there is an appetite for. Instead, to the present, and the future.

The cymbals grow in dominance on the tempestuous ‘Boats’, but again, echoes and shadows dominate, and this very much feels like a window on an historical event, the soundtrack to a battle or other catastrophe at sea where boats were lost beneath the waves. To all intents and purposes, this is a spacious post-rock piece, but it possesses a richness, a level of detail, and a degree of ambience, that is so much more.

The final track, ‘Red Dry Land’ is a hypnotic piece that drifts without real movement, a nagging motif backed by a thrum that simply thumps on unchanging for what feels like an eternity. There’s a scratchy guitar that’s reminiscent of Andy Moor, and mines a more avant-jazz seam, but retains that expansive post-rock vibe, too.

The map charts a route, and as it progresses, it leads the listener back to themselves. This all feels highly evocative, and conjures images in the mind’s eye – but every perception is different. Perhaps that difference ultimately does come down to the map, and one’s experience of the territory – for while the former is fixed, factual, the latter is not, and will always be coloured by individual realities, the eye of the explorer. You may know exactly where you are, and still be lost. With Cartographer, Fading Tapes point the way but provide no real answers. But perhaps that’s ok: the enjoyment is in the journey rather than the destination.

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Not Applicable – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Chris Sharkey’s first album released under his own name is what I suppose one might call an ‘environmental’ album. Not an album about the environment in the broader sense, or the ecological sense, but in the sense of having been inspired by the artist’s surroundings, and the music herein is a direct response to that in many ways. While so many releases from the last year have been environmental in the context of creative responses to lockdown and a shrunken vista consisting of four walls and the view from the window, paired with a pervading anxiety on account of the 24/7 news media and social media doomscrolling, Presets comes from a very different perspective. First and foremost, its inspiration is travel.

“I had been touring and travelling a lot. Lots of long car journeys, the M1, driving between shows in Europe. Long waits in airports. The occasional long-haul flight to play farther field. Throughout this period my relationship to music changed. I found that listening to songs or short pieces would leave me agitated and frustrated. I’d been listening a lot to Actress, particularly ‘Ghettoville’ and ‘Hazyville’ which really worked for me on the road. I wanted a music that develops slowly over time, drawing you in, making you forget about the clock. Music that has so much grain and texture that you could almost pick it up and turn it around in your hands, examining from all sides. Like a physical object. Music that resembles something you might see out of the window of a plane, high above the clouds, a meteorological event or a storm on distant mountains from the back seat of a car.”

I can certainly relate to the agitational effects of listening to certain musical forms while in transit: I always had to stop music and be on full sensory alert on arriving at a train station and walking through an unfamiliar city, for example, and since lockdown, I’ve not been able to listen to my MP3 player at all while walking around anywhere.

The physical setup for the album’s production was minimal, and Presets is the product of two months’ intensive recording, producing hours of material. But this was only the start of a protracted second stage, which Sharkey details as follows: “As the process continued, I would select my favourite parts and create playlists just for myself. By the end I had over 4 hours of music that lived on my phone and whenever I would travel, I’d listen. Over the course of the next 5 years: touring, travelling, listening, I slowly whittled it down to what you hear on Presets.”

In short, Presets is the product of many years’ work – not just the five years in post-recording evolution, but the years of experience and observation that preceded its creation also. It was, unquestionably, time well spent: while many of the individual segments are quite short – mere fragments – the album as a whole sees them sequenced and segued so as to feel like one continuous piece that gradually transitions between tones and shades. It’s also an immense work, clocking in around the eighty-five minute mark. It’s very much a good thing that it’s intended as a background work, because it’s practically impossible to sustain focus for that kind of time. But Presets is about not focusing, about disruptions and interruptions, about life.

It begins with quavering, key-ranging notes that do, at least vaguely, sound like guitar, before layers of processing build, before the source instrument becomes lost, evolving to conjure organ -like drones and entirely abstract washes. Before long, particularly over the course of the eighteen-minute second track, ‘the sharecropper’s daughter’, you find yourself not so much listening as floating along with the sounds as they slowly creep and shift.

The titles are sparsely descriptive and evocative at the same time: from ‘blue cloud, red fog’, to ‘scorpion bowl’ via ‘detained at the border’, there are hints of mini-narratives attached to each piece, and the sense of travel and movement does come across through the difficult drones and scrapes of feedback that build and buzz through the foggy murk.

It’s an epic work, and a major achievement.

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Editions Mego – EMEGO298 – 16th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

As the title perhaps suggests, Cylene Suisse Redux is a document of the tour of Switzerland undertaken by François J. Bonnet and Stephen O’Malley in December 2019, following the release of their first album, Cylene. That said, it’s no straight live recording, as the two longform tracks – naturally corresponding with a side of vinyl or cassette each – were edited and manipulated respectively by Jim O’Rourke and Ryoji Ikeda, ‘giving them carte blanche, and each in turn chose a distinct personal approach’.

The two musicians chose to entrust sound material recorded on the tour to the expert ears of two friends and great musicians Jim O’Rourke and Ryoji Ikeda, giving them carte blanche, and each in turn chose a distinct personal approach.

For Ryoji Ikeda, it was a question of finding a moment, circumscribing a fragment of time through his listening, with minimal intervention. For Jim O’Rourke, on the other hand, the live recordings became material to be deconstructed and reassembled, to tell, according to his musical sensibility, a path of metamorphosis for Bonnet and O’Malley’s music.

According to the press release, ‘Cylene Suisse Redux is a prismatic substrate of a series of concerts surrounded by friendship, lakes, mountains, and by nightfall’. But how does that translate as a listening experience?

O’Rourke conjures an ominous sci-fi soundscape, abrim with other-worldly odyssey, as spooky-sounding mid—range drones hover and twist in a haze of reverb. This is the sinister soundtrack to a sinister movie set in a barren wasteland in an alien climate, as clouds of red dust drift through the thin, inhospitable atmosphere. Something is awry: danger is omnipresent, and anything could happen at any moment. Sonorous tones echo out into the emptiness, accentuating the bleakness of the sonic expanse in which we find ourselves. There is nowhere to hide, and there is nothing solid or familiar, only an ever-shifting drift of layer upon layer of sound without and signposts or markers, nothing to orientate oneself with. You feel isolated, alone, exposed, vulnerable, as you advance, with trepidation, onwards through this nerve-jangling eighteen minutes.

Ryoji Ikeda’s approach is quite different, and so is the end result, which starts out like a distant freight trail screeching to a halt with the scrape of metal upon metal, and it continues far off in the background as insistent drones, broad and bulbous, hover and turn, twist and whine, evolving over time. This is more what you might consider ‘typical’ ambient drone, favouring neither lightness nor darkness, and with neither a leaning toward bass not treble, and therefore not challenging and sensory aspect too hard. It’s still ominous in places, but not overtly unsettling or uncomfortable. Because there’s some sense of linear trajectory, it growls louder and darker as it progresses, swelling in volume and intensity, while the soft-edged drones develop sharper edges and become increasingly shrill, howling dissonance and pain before gradually tapering down, albeit with some afterburn.

You’re left wandering, aimless, vacant, in no-man’s land, wondering precisely how you should feel and how you should react to what you’ve just heard – and that’s as it should be. François J. Bonnet and Stephen O’Malley create music without boundaries or definition, and that indistiction is further accentuated by O’Rourke and Ikeda. It’s for the listener to do the work, to explore and to find the points of resonance. There is much space to explore. Go forth.

Herhalen – H#023 – 21st May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The press release for this second album by The Incidental Crack – a collaboration between Justin Watson, Rob Spencer and Simon Proffitt – which follows last year’s Before The Magic describes the trio ‘exchanging field recordings, samples and random noise between Manchester, Wigan and North Wales, culminating in studio sessions focused on detailed processing and sound manipulation. They have yet to meet. Maybe one day when this is all over, in a pub in North Wales, free from this madness’.

As such, it’s a classic lockdown project, a virtual collaboration that proves that when it comes to the making of music, distance doesn’t have to be an object. In fact, it’s probably easier to collaborate without the logistics of brining people together in the same place at the same time. Writing on the project, Justin (one half of The Gated Canal Community and formerly of Front & Follow, a label which will be familiar to regular readers of AA), notes that Municipal Music ‘includes tracks recorded during the same period, using our now foolproof approach of sharing stuff, fiddling with it, sharing some more etc.’, adding, ‘It kept me sane at least during the last year!’

That is something that’s certainly relatable: keeping occupied has, for me, been the only way to keep myself together. I’m not saying it’s healthy, it’s just how it is. And increasingly, I’ve found abstract music easier to manage. Structured music, anything overtly ‘song’ orientated and rhythm driven is, all too often, just so much noise and instead of providing a welcome point of focus, feels just like being smacked from all sides at once. So while there may still be a lot going on in this, it’s not psychologically disruptive, and is suitably absorbing and immersive.

There are three extended-length tracks in all, which exploit the full dynamic range, with a strong focus on texture. The first, ‘The Second Cup of Tea of the Day’ is strong – certainly more English Breakfast or Nambarrie than Earl Grey or anything herbal – and probably inspired by the sound of a boiling kettle that’s been manipulated and fucked around with. However, it sounds at first more like a freight train, an extended continuous roar occupying the first three minutes before it gradually abates in volume and intensity, and gentler, softly-woven ambient drones fade in. there are still rumblings and incidental clatterings, forging a soundscape that never fully reconciles the tensions between the elements of soft and harsh, the light and dark. Bubbling Krautrock with bulbous beats collides with metallic shards of grating noise.

‘Just Passing Through’ is appropriately positioned in the middle, and is altogether gentler, softer, warmer, and pursues a more conventional ambient line. But there are peaks and troughs and ebbs and flows as the sound swells and at times shifts toward more unsettling territory, with some woozy oscillations that tug uncomfortably at the pit of the stomach before receding and allowing calmer vibes to return once more.

The third and final cut, the fourteen-minute ‘Ice Cream at the Pavilion’ starts with what sounds like the crashing of waves against a rocky beach in a storm, which strangely reminds me of a number of occasions we’ve had ice cream at the coast on family outings, because it’s always ice-cream weather for children. Voices chatter and babble and whoop excitedly, while a dolorous church organ begins to while away majestically in the background. Eventually, it’s superseded by a barrelling drone and a throbbing, slow-pulsing sound that swells and surges.

There’s a certain wistfulness and nostalgia to be found in the spaces in and around Municipal Music, although perhaps some of that’s my own reception aesthetic, a response as much to the circumstances of its creation and the allusions of the title, both of which remind me I’ve not left my own municipality in months, haven’t met any of my collaborators or friends in so very long, and yearn for both proximity to (some) people and also the countryside and country pubs. All of these thoughts wash around in my mind as the sounds surround me, and it occurs to me, finally, that Municipal Music is good music to think to.

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False Industries False – 23rd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

None of us was ready for this. Separation, detachment, deaths, a relentless media frenzy… New normal? We haven’t had a moment to process, not really: it’s been one thing after another, and any time for reflection has simply slammed home another level of horror as the realisation of the harshest realities not only of the present, but the possible future hit us. There are people and places we may never see again, but existing in the moment has afforded little time to really assimilate this prospect. ‘All art made in this period has been impacted by the shifts 2020 brought on the world, so why deny it?’ asks Etziony, and it’s a fair question: even art not specifically or directly influenced by the events of the last year will have been affected in some way, and the psychological impact of a year of global lockdown, apart from friends and relatives will likely take significantly longer to truly unravel.

How adjusted do you feel to talk to people or otherwise act normally in proximity, in your workplace, in public, general? How many of us have become desocialised, socially awkward, uncomfortable around others? How many with social anxiety have

And so it was that, as the blurb details, ‘Yair Etziony wrote Further Reduction after returning from Israel to his home of Berlin in September last year. In his own words, something in him “snapped” as he realized that many of the places he knew and loved had simply stopped existing.’

It begins with expansive, resonant ambience, and continues with more of the same: Further Reduction is an album that’s constructed around rhythmic pulsations and slow ebbs and flows. Take, for example, ‘Caves of Steel’, which is a definite ambient work, but one which points towards quite definite structures and sounds of a solidly percussive nature.

The first track, ‘Reploicaset’, transitions from sparse ad echoic to a full, building, slow-moving swell of sound. It maybe evocative of scenes of life beneath the oceans, as jellyfish pulse through deep waters There are a passages or extended tranquillity, but also of unrest.

Short vocal samples echo through the waves om both ‘Polar Vortex’ and ‘Recreate and Update’, and these moments disrupt the long, slow droning eeriness of the album as a whole – although this is very much a positive, adding texture and new layers of the uncanny as slow-shifting tones turn and reverberate. By ‘Service Recovery’, everything has been reduced to a scratching, hovering drone that hovers and hums, and the final stages of the album are ominous, unsettling, and taper down too a slow conclusion, whereby we’re left with nothing but silence to reflect upon, just like those dark night when the conversation stops and we find ourselves alone in the world, wondering precisely how we fit, who – if anyone – cares, and what will be next.

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Hallow Ground – HG2101 – 12th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Norman Westberg, of Swans legend, has a long association with the cranking out of heavy noise. For over three decades, his style was a defining feature of one of the most singular bands, and a rare entity, namely a guitarist who was more than happy to bludgeon away at the same two or three chords for anything up to a quarter of an hour. I would even venture so far as to say that Westberg is a truly unique guitarist, and his appreciation and understanding of space is unparalleled – a player who isn’t only comfortable, but whose signature is a seemingly infinite pause between chords.

In more recent years, Westberg’s output has shifted towards a less abrasive angle, with a succession of solo releases from 2016 onwards exploring overtly ambient territory, through MRI¸ The All Most Quiet, (both 2016) and After Vacation (2019).

First Man in the Moon sees Westberg connect with double bass player Jacek Mazurkiewicz, who supported Swans on tour in Europe in 2014 under the moniker of his solo project 3FoNIA,.The result of their collaboration, recorded during some downtime ahead of Michael Gira’s two Warsaw shows toward the end of 2019, is five improvised tracks of richly resonant evocation. The pitch promises a work ‘beyond the boundaries of atmospheric drone, abstract jazz and experimental music [which] blurs the lines between the acoustic and the electronic.’

It’s all a blur: supple washes of sound painted in broad strokes provide the cloud-like ambient backdrop to clatters and creaks, and the occasional bleep and whirr. It’s very much about the contrast: Mazurkiewicz’s playing is versatile, with his double bass work ranging from deep, brooding sounds that are very much of the instrument, to sonorous booms, to the sound of a tree groaning and about to topple.

How deep do you delve into a work so overly ambient and abstract? At what point does dissection become futile? First Man in the Moon is an album that warrants space, and reflection, to breathe and to simply run its course – an album to bask in, rather than to pick apart. It creates a supple, evolving atmosphere of soft drone and a soporific soundscape in which to cut loose.

A hesitant bass emerges from the misty contrails of ‘That was Then’, and it’s ‘Falsely Accused’ is a slow, tidal throb that ebbs and flows… and not a lot else. First Man in the Moon is an album that drifts on, remaining in the background: it does not demand attention of focus. Attention and focus bring different rewards, but there is a lot to be said for simply sitting back, dimming the lights and sipping a whisky while the sounds of this subtle, nuanced work immerse you.

As collaborations go, Westberg and Mazurkiewicz make for a magnificent pairing, creating an album that shows a touching musical intuition: everything about First Man in the Moon simply flows, effortlessly, naturally, and creates a space in space – that is to say, a mental space in which to empty oneself. It’s rare, and it’s special.

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Misanthropic Agenda – MAR056 – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a few years since I last engaged with Simon Whetham’s work, which at least up to a certain point had a certain preoccupation with geography, or least location. In a sense – albeit somewhat tenuous, that relationship to place remains as a backdrop of sorts to Forced to Repeat Myself, which documents a tour (remember those?) in 2018.

Perhaps the absence of touring has driven many artists to review their archival recordings, and on Forced to Repeat Myself, Whetham contemplates the way in which touring drives a tendency toward homogeneity in terms of the way each night’s performance is assembled. For rock bands and acts performing compositions of a fixed nature, this is part and parcel; the repetition of set lists and even, over time, between-piece patter and introductions. But for artists whose work is based on improvisation, repetition is undesirable – after all, at what point does repetition become something rehearsed and preplanned?

As the accompanying text observes, ‘One characteristic aspect of the touring experience that is not discussed often enough is the dilemma of repetition. Not repetition as a mechanism of the work itself, but as a tedious consequence of being obligated to perform night after night in quick succession. Generating a completely unique performance for each stop, even with the assistance of improvisation, is a laborious undertaking that consumes too much time and sanity, while adhering to a rigid set of rules leaves one open to both burnout and diminishing returns. Is there a way to split the difference so that both performer and audience are always engaged to the highest standard?’

And so this is the context for Forced to Repeat Myself. As a document, it’s a curious one, and it may or may not be ironic that the cover art for Whetham’s ‘live’ album is a photograph of a venue with rows of empty seats. If it was indeed shot at one of the shows where Whetham performed on said tour or any other (and the presence of a flipchart suggests otherwise), it was surely during soundcheck. But then, history can be subject to so many manipulations, and the time and space begins to flake over the passage of the latter… the relevance of the track titles is unclear: they’re not dates, and this is not some kind of aural tour diary. Nor are the tracks really the same. Yes, Whetham does revert to certain tones and textures as one would expect from the same equipment operated within a more or less predetermined set length.

Random is only so random, and external factors invariably influence and direct the shape of things. That said, the same performance is never the same performance: different venues of different shapes and sizes, the kit run through a different PA, different audience responses… Life in lockdown may feel like perpetual groundhog day, but the reality is that we never live the same moment twice. No-one is more acutely aware of this than Whetham himself when he comments, “In each situation objects and materials unique to the space were incorporated into the performance setup and structure, generating sounds or resonating with them. And yet I could hear similar scenes, movements, even spaces. This repetition determined the dynamic of the composition, working with it and against it.”

And so we return to geography, location, in the most immediate of contexts. And over the course of the album’s eight pieces, the identifiable repetitions are few, as the same sounds are reworked, remixed, reimagined, and with each manipulation, however subtle, they’re a step or phase away from their previous version.

But over the course of the album we’re reminded just how strong Whetham’s ear is for texture and tone, and there is a spectacular abundance of crackling overdoing distortion, groaning drones humming clicking, bangs and scrapes and minimal electronic sounds colliding and vibrating against one another – hard and violently. The absence of audience sound and the up-close fixing of circuits mean that this doesn’t feel or sound like a live album, but it is, every inch, a hard sonic challenge.

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1st May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

For some years now, I’ve followed Gintas K’s career with interest, for the simple fact that his work is, well, interesting, not to mention varied. This latest release is quite different from anything previous: a 7” single containing the audio, this is ostensibly a multimedia work, which finds the record packaged with a magazine, and was produced in collaboration with Visvaldas Morkevičius as an independent publishing project.

Morkevičius is a Lithuanian photographer, and the print aspect of the release comprises a series of photographs, which are the result of the artist’s visual anthropology research. K’s contribution is that of a soundtrack, as the accompanying blurb explains: ‘7” vinyl performance was made by Gintas K during the process of Visvaldas Morkevicius photographing and was added to Portraitzine as to fulfill the atmosphere in which photographs was made.’

It may be that the audio works better with the visuals, in that it fills out the understanding of both the listener and the watcher, but as a standalone work, Gintas’ two untitled works function successfully in their own right.

The sounds on side A – ‘Cut Piece’ are spare, strange, squelchy, bloopy, gloopy, fractal, disjointed, whistling, bleepy, hyperdigital. There are immense spaces between the sounds, meaning that when thumps, thuds and bangs arrive, they do with maximum impact: more than one I found myself physically jolting n my seat, having been lulled by a digital babble and spells of near-silence.

Side B, featuring the shorter ‘Uncut piece’ is mega-minimal: drips and blips punctuate three-and-a-half minutes of not a lot. And yet that not-a-lot is important: it focuses the attention, and reattenuates the listener’s attention on sound and the spaces in between. It slips and fades to nothing.

I find myself staring into space, barely aware that the ‘music’ has ended. If the ‘music’ ever really began. It’s hard to feel any real emotional or psychological connection with these snippets. But that is not their function. And ultimately, it works, and that’s the objective here.

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Panurus Productions – 22nd November 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Newcastle-based cassette label Panurus really don’t have a particular house style, genre r aesthetic beyond releasing stuff that’s different and obscure. A lot of music that languishes in obscurity does so not because it’s not good, or even necessarily because it’s inaccessible, but because it simply doesn’t receive the ‘right’ exposure – or any at all.

In Dreams is a sharp contrast with the last two Panurus releases, in the for of the ultra-harsh blackened hardcore torrent that was Mineshaft’s VENUM LUXDOR DISCOVERY SUPER NOVA and Whelmed, a deluge of sluge and nose courtesy of Lump Hammer and Bodies on Everest, in that it’s an electronic work that promises ‘a serene soak in this sonic pool – an oneiric rendition of water and submersion’.

The majority of the titles share an aquatic theme, and the albums ripples in gently with ‘Floating’. The soft, easy notes tinkle softly like summer rain on the surface of a kale, with a soothing effect. It segues seamlessly into the broader sonic wash of delicate hums which form ‘With the Tide.’ This is not the surge of waves breaking on rocky outcrops, but a steady, low-ebb lapping.

Deeper currents begin to build on ‘Awash’, and for the first time, there are hints of tension and an indication of the potential power a body of water may possess. This dissipates as the listener is carried almost subliminally into the otherworldly space of ‘Drifting Slowly’, a strange and almost silent sonic realm that calls to mind Blue Planet scenes, the serenity of the deep, a vast expanse occupied exclusively by strange and silent creatures. The final two compositions, ‘Out of Body’ and ‘Descent’ merge together in a soft, muffly suspension.

In Dreams is almost quintessential in its ambience, almost formless, the amorphous shapes impossible to capture or define. It’s undemanding, and it’s pleasant.

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