Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Pateras’

Southern Lord – 26th April 2019

A new Sunn O))) album is still an event, even after all these years as the leading exponents of droning doom, a field now crowded with imitators and influences. The sense of ceremony is a major factor: Sunn O))) appreciate and command ceremony in every aspect of their exitance. As good as so many who have emerged to follow in their wake may be, there really is only one Sunn O))). The thing with Sunn O))) is that while they very much do mine deep into their self-made seem, each release offers something different, a variation on that consistent sameness.

And so it is on Life Metal that co-founders Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson set themselves a production-orientated goal for realising their immense sound, namely to have their playing captured by god himself, Steve Albini. The story goes that Steve took the call, and said ,“Sure, this will be fun. I have no idea what is going to happen.”

The resulting four tracks, which evolved through time in rehearsal, and with collaborative input from Anthony Pateras, Jóhann Jóhannsson collaborator Hildur Guðnadóttir, guitarist / bassist Tim Midyett, and live mainstay T.O.S bringing Moog action, were laid at Albini’s legendary Electrical Audio studio, and the end product (at least on vinyl) is pure analogue, with an AAA rating.

And it certainly brings the band’s earthy qualities to the fore: the richness, the density of the speakers vibrating in their cabs as displaced air emerges as sound in its most overtly physical manifestation is all captured in a way that conveys the immersive, all-enveloping experience of being a room with the band. As is also the case with Swans and A Place to Bury Strangers, the intense volume isn’t a gimmick but a necessary part of the sound and the experience. Some frequencies simply don’t exist at lower volume, and tones resonate against one another in a certain and quite different way when everything is turned up to eleven and then maximum gain applied. And the effect is transcendental. And whereas its predecessor, Kannon was comparatively concise, with its three tracks clocking in around the half-hour mark, Life Metal goes all out on the expansive, the four pieces running for a fill seventy minutes.

It begins with a distant rumble, before, after just a matter of seconds, the first chord crashes in: thick, dense, so distorted and low-registering as so almost collapse under its own density. But from the slow-crawling swamp-heavy ooze emerges individual notes, the makings of a melodic lead guitar line, and from the darkness radiates a gleam of light. Feedback… soaring notes… grandeur on a galactic scale. And then… Guðnadóttir’s voice. Detached and somehow simultaneously clinical yet emotive, assured yet utterly lost, it possesses an other-worldliness as it drapes dimensions across a simmering drone forged from a lattice of layers reminiscent of sections of Earth on Earth 2.

‘Troubled Air’, which features Pateras’ pipe organ work heightens the impact of volume as well as the ceremonial, ritual undertones which run through every Sunn O))) composition. By turns beauteous and beastly, shifting between moments of monumental grace and churning discord.

The nineteen-minute ‘Aurora’ goes low and slow, a single chord hanging in the thick, muggy air for an eternity until it twists out of shape and becomes a whine of feedback. And then it goes lower and slower still. The suspense builds between each chord, which elongates out to a droning sustain, and when the next lands, it’s with the force of an imploding black hole. Because Sunn O))) don’t do things on a small scale or in light: instead, they amplify darkness until it goes beyond critical mass to become all-consuming.

It ends abruptly in a peak of feedback before a deluge of grinding guitar, overdriven and distorted to a point beyond devastation hits like a tsunami to open the twenty-five-minute closer, ‘Novae’. Again taking clear cues from Earth 2, it’s a heavy drone that occupies the full sonic spectrum as howling strains of feedback whine over bowel-rupturing lower frequencies. Nothing much happens: it doesn’t need to. This is about taking a concept and pushing it as far beyond its logical end as possible, something Sunn O))) have effectively made a career of. And it still works.

And if ever a single album encapsulated the fundamental concept of Sunn O))), Life Metal would be a strong contender.

AA

919042

Immediata – IMM010 – 3rd July 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

One track spanning fifty minutes. It’s one of those compositions which lacks explicit firm, and creeps and crawls and spreads itself like a low fog that drifts under doors and through cracks in windows. Much of The Slow Creep Of Convenience is quiet, to the point of near inaudibility. It’s most definitely background music, and ambient in the purest sense, in that it affects the mood subliminally, infiltrating the psyche almost completely imperceptibly. It is, as the title suggests, a slow creep, an album which slowly, invisibly reaches in and subtly massages the edges of the mental state, rather than affecting an overt and direct transformation.

It’s almost exactly a year since Anthony Pateras released to very different albums simultaneously, and the style of The Slow Creep Of Convenience is very different from either of those, revealing an artist capable of significant creative diversity. The Moment In and Of Itself and The Long Exhale, while contesting and in some respects complimentary, were both overtly experimental. The Slow Creep Of Convenience is infinitely more restrained, focused. It’s very much a minimalist work.

We’ve covered the slow creep, but what about the convenience? Reading this as social commentary, and perhaps as a quieter parallel to Arsenal’s Factory Smog is a Sign of Progress, The Slow Creep Of Convenience stands as a document referencing the less positive aspects of the endless tide of progress and development. Just as industrialisation heralded the onset of the modern age and a new mode of existence, which brought with it infinite benefits but also new and unprecedented problems, so the shift toward convenience, toward tertiary industry, the advent of leisure industries, heralded the arrival of the age of stress, anxiety and dysfunction. We now live in a culture of endless immediacy, centred around instant online transaction and interaction, around immediate dispatch. Amazon Prime is nothing to on-line banking and Hungry House. Everything I available immediately, at the click of a button. Smartphones may have only come to the market in 2008 – less than a decade ago – but the revolution has already happened and we’ve all been utterly engulfed by the pace of development. So just how slow has his creep been in real terms?

In some respects, it doesn’t matter: our perception of time has changed. Time is accelerating, and in the age of convenience, it’s easier than ever to evaporate time. But who noticed?

The undulating, intertwining drones and hovering, jangling, multitonal hums with the texture of dragonfly wings which forge extended passages of this multi-faceted work intimate a nagging unease, the underlying discomfort of anxiety. It’s more than difficult to pinpoint, of course: it’s simply there in the background, yet impossible to ignore.

 

Immediata – IMM007 – 4th July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The Long Exhale is the second of two albums released simultaneously on Immediata, both featuring Anthony Pateras (as, indeed, do all of the Immediata releases, given that Immediata is Pateras’ project). Both superbly presented in a gatefold ‘Ecopak’ with hot-stamped lettering and released in editions of just 300, these are nice items, objets d’art no less.

They’re two very different albums: one energetic, vibrant, celebratory, spontaneous and intuitive, the other altogether more low-key, sparse and subdued in tone. As such, whereas the North of North album The Moment In and Of Itself was a bold, riotous affair, Pateras shows another side of his artistry on The Long Exhale, a collaboration with Anthony Burr. Described as ‘seven meditations for clarinets, pianos and electronics’, the album aims to ‘catalogue psychoacoustic experiments and Feldman-influenced acoustic excursions undertaken between 2014 and 2015.’

Like The Moment In and Of Itself, The Long Exhale is accompanied by an interview between the artists, with Pateras probing Burr about music and creativity. It’s an illuminating piece which provides some context for the album.

Pateras is on familiar terrain here, contributing sounds produced by piano and prepared piano, an instrument synonymous with John Cage and also adopted by Erik Griswold and evolved by Reinhold Friedl. Because of the nature of the instrument (it simply doesn’t produce sounds recognisable as emanating from a piano) and the fact Burr utilises an ARP 2600 (vintage analogue synth enthusiasts will no doubt be aware of the capabilities of this popular instrument, which was used to voice R2-D2 in Star Wars), the origins of individual sounds are obscured.

The long exhale is a breathing technique used in Yoga, and is also recognised as a method for curbing anxiety. This album is indeed calming, gentle, and unhurried and is certainly unlikely to provoke feelings of anxiety or excitement of the kind which would increase the heart rate. What it does provide is a gentle mental massage.

The first track, the ten-minute ‘Some Association That I Didn’t Know About’ is built around a wavering, sustained humming drone. Incidentals chime and hover. Fleeting moments emerge on ‘That Wasn’t the Idea at All’ where piano and clarinet notes are recognisable, but they’re warped, bending, while on ‘Doesn’t Show’, the prepared piano notes manifest as chimes like plucked strings – which in essence is what they likely are. The album’s overall tone is sombre, sparse and atmospheric. Hushed, meandering explorations drift and float through a fugue-like soundscape. And… breathe.

Long Exhale

Immedata – IMM006 – 4th July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Instruments that sound like instruments!’ boasts the sticker on the cellophane in which North of North is shrinkwrapped. It’s a good selling point, and I’m not being sarcastic. It’s not a matter of selling tradition, but what could reasonably be described as the album’s manifesto: ‘this is no random grimprov get together or free jazz blowout, this is a serious engagement with compositional parameters combined with instrumental virtuosity from a working band’, announced the press release. It’s a bold statement which is likely to rankle with a fair few in avant-jazz circles, but fuck ‘em. Isn’t that what avant-gardism is all about?

As it happens, there’s a lot of fucking going on with this release. The interior of the lurid pink gatefold cover contains the following uncredited quotation, impressed in silver text:

It doesn’t come from fucking somewhere else,

It comes from your fucking brain.

Your brain tells you what to do, and you fucking do it.

If your brains are fucked, then the music will be fucked.

And the music is a little fucked, but in a good way. In the way that this album is all about what the title states: ‘The Moment In and Of Itself’. It’s immediate. It’s real. The moment is the only thing that matters. The moment is history in the making. It’ a moment in time, captured, distilling the coming together of three musicians to create something – to create music. Nothing more, nothing less.

Featuring the talents of Anthony Pateras (piano), Scott Tinkler (trumpet) and Erkki Veltheim (violin), the album’s five tracks represent spirited, free-flowing improvisation – a subject they discuss at length in the three-way conversation (it’s not strictly an interview) in the 16-page booklet which accompanies the album. It’s all in the moment. It’s not pre-planned improvisation, guided, ordered, conducted. Naturally, just because the instruments sound like instruments doesn’t mean that this is a perfectly accessible work. At times in perfect accord and at others creating tempestuous discord, there are jazz elements in the compositions, such as they are. And of course, the range of sounds three instruments can name, individually and in combination, while still sounding like instruments, is immense, and at times brain-bending.

There’s certainly a strong element of playfulness which runs throughout the project as a whole. What lies North of North? It’s like the question posted in Spinal Tap when discussing the cover to their Black Album. And just as there’s none more black so there is none more North than North, unless you’re going to leave the planet completely. Which could well be the aim of these fellows, as they explore what it means to participate in ‘real-time composition’. I’m also reminded of the Bukowski book, South Of No North. Which is presumably nowhere or also off the planet. Whatever: location is a state of mind.

Leaping between brooding drama and fleeting, skittering leaps and transitioning from moody to frantically busy, with scratches and scribbly scrapes, fast fingerwork and mindboggling intuition are what make this album happen. And in the moment, they eke out extended crescendos and embark on wild detours and impromptu romps in myriad directions. It’s challenging, at times manic and eye-popping. But this is the real deal. It happened. And this album is a document of a moment, as it happened.

North of North