Posts Tagged ‘Avant-garde’

Bearsuit Records – 1st December 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The album’s acknowledgements indicate that the little Edinburgh label has some high-profile and well-respected champions, including Stuart Maconie, Tom Ravenscroft, Gideon Coe, Mark Riley, David Stubbs… and some guy called Nosnibor. I’m deeply flattered to find myself in such prestigious company. It’s no secret that as a music writer, I’m a fan first and foremost, and Bearsuit stand out for their unswerving commitment to the weird and the wonderful – and, indeed, the wonderfully weird.

From minimal, brooding electro-pop to experimental avant-folk via haunting, spectral gothtronica, and space-prog in waltz-time, it’s all here on this latest compilation. Psychedelic dreampop, scratchy, glitchy trip-hop, stark post-industrial noise, and a jumble of all other elements which should never meet cozy up side but side and on top one another. Quirky isn’t in it.

Luscious, sweeping strings glide over a softly pulsating throb, and it’s all very cinematic, very John Williams on ‘Fulfilling Eclipse’, Alexander Storadiau’s contribution to this collection. No two ways about it, it’s a grand opening worthy of JG Thirlwell. But then PoProPo bring a busy mess of high-friction jazz-funk-punk, which just wouldn’t be complete without the wibbly Theremin wails. The weirdy, sultry cabaret of Martian Subculture’s ‘Chewing Gum’ contrasts again.

The reason I love Bearsuit isn’t because I love every tune they release, but because every tune they release opens my ears to something new, and because they’re fearless in pushing the most far-out stuff from the deepest underground. Tthere are some truly ‘what the fuck?’ moments on here. ‘Tous Les Rochers’ by Yponomeutaneko leads the way. Swaggering brass and monotone spoken word breaks into discord and a load of crazed shouting. I haven’t a fucking clue what they’re shouting about, or why, or why the track even got recorded, but the fact it did, and that it’s on here is utterly brilliant. The sing-song vaudeville oompah of ‘World Travel of the Piano Tuner’ by Shinnosuke Sugata is music completely out of time, complete with muffled wax cylinder production.

The Moth Poets offer up some glacial post-punk disco hybrid collision with operatic bombast. Swords Reversed bring a palace of oddball melody and thumping beats, while Petridisch – one of three acts with two tracks featured – cultivate an air of otherness. No two acts featured are alike, and yet they compliment one another perfectly. Sequencing matters as much as selection on a compilation album, and The Invisible & Divided Sea flows nicely.

It’s a gloopy, tangential, often disorientating concoction of disparate sounds that somehow stands as the perfect representation of both the artists involved and the label itself.

AAA

Bearsuit Comp Cover

Advertisements

Bearsuit Records – 23rd September 2017

James Wells

Multi-instrumentalist Hayato Takeuchi hails from Japan. Beyond that, I know nothing in terms of biography. No that it matters. It’s all about the music, and the music on this EP is… different. Different from what? Pretty much everything. Yes, it’s a typical Bearsuit Records release.

The five tracks on offer here are dizzying, bewildering, multitonal works which play with time signatures and textures at the same time. There are all shades of oddness here, from the whistling loop over wonky synths and a sparse beat on the piano-led ‘Usan Kosao No Usoushiki’, and the playful theatrical noodles of ‘Mr Henderson No Ai To Replica’ is a fairground waltz that skips lightly through a space that revels in experimentalism. Weird and woozy, dramatic and quirky are Takeuchi’s key themes here. The final track, ‘Anata To Watashi No Kyoukaisen’ sides gracefully into crystalline, cloudlike ambience which tapers and turns subtly in a space of its own creation.

There’s no way of putting a tag on this that’s in any way informative, and to pick it apart is to destroy its intrigue. Weird and special, and special in its weirdness.

AAA

Hayato Takeuchi

Holotype Editions – HOLO7 – 25th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s hard to reconcile the sounds emanating from the speakers with this being a document of a live performance. And yet Schulevy Maker, which comprises two long-form tracks in the form of ‘Schulevy Maker’ Parts 1 and 2, was recorded live at Cafe Oto in London in December 2013, and captures two outré sonic experimenters coming together to forge something that’s weird and wonderful in equal measure. It’s credit, then, to the artists and all involved in the creation of this album that the sounds are so rich, layered, and detailed so as to sound as if they were meticulously ordered, edited, polished and mixed with great labour in the studio. There is a lot going on, and none of it is remotely obvious or predictable.

The set begins with a nagging motif, repeated end on end and resembling a demo of The Fall circa ‘79, over which electronic screaches and wibbles and irregular, occasional clatters of percussion weave and flit in an out. And over all of this, Tazartès and Dunietz grunt and ululate, quaver and trill. At times, rather less a walrus of love and more like a walrus slain, Tazartès explores the lower registers of the larynx, while Dunietz offers a soaring, semi-operatic counterpoint.

Amidst grating industrial drones and scrapes, weird samples and chiming finger cymbals, the pair challenge accepted notions of melody with their often deviant vocalisations which stray from the roots of key and tempo. And yet as much as they often run contra to one another, every instant is a moment of perfect connection and compliment, and there’s a synchronisation of their idiosyncrasies which renders the performance utterly compelling.

It’s strange and disorientating, and it’s not always easy to find a foot or handhold amidst the ever-shifting soundscapes which rapidly transition from accessible to strange, and often appear to originate from another world entirely.

AAA

Ghedalia Tazartes   Maya Dunietz

Christopher Nosnibor

The facts:

Jeph Jerman: snare drum, frame drum, cymbal, pumice, e-bow with metal, wok lid, old brass bowl and ball bearing, disintegrating paint brush ​
Giacomo Salis: percussion, objects, field recordings ​

Paolo Sanna: percussion, waterphone, prepared zither, thingamagoop2, s.w.radio ​

So, not just any paintbrush: Jeph Jerman’s instrument of choice is a disintegrating paintbrush. The list of instrumentation deployed in the production of Kio Ge is nothing if not improvisational, and this is in keeping with the spirit of the album’s twelve improvised fragments.

There’s nothing fully realised in an explicit sense here, but that’s not what Kio Ge is about. These pieces – they’re not strictly compositions in that they’re not pre-ordained, but by the same token, composition can take place in real-time, spontaneously – but it may be more appropriate to refer to them as musical happenings or sonic events.

While many of the tracks sit in the three to four-minute bracket, a number are barely a couple of minutes in duration, but what they offer in a holistic sense is a series of sketches which clatter and clank, bubble and scrape, transitioning through simple, sparse arrangements to dense, multitextural works.

These aren’t pieces which resonate on any particular level, and they don’t move the mind, the soul or the body with their abstract firms and absence of rhythm. But that does not mean that Kio Ge lacks engagement: in fact, Kio Ge engages at precisely the points the attention begins to wander.

AAA

Jerman Salis  Sanna – Kio Ge

Nakama Records – NKM008

Christopher Nosnibor

Strolling bass, graceful strings, rolling piano: these are the defining elements of Nakama’s Most Intimate. But if this sounds like it’s an album of romantic pastoral compositions, then this would be to misrepresent the range and expanse of the more experimental bent of the Most Intimate sonic experience. And none of this touches the

By way of background, Nakama is ‘a five-piece band led by Norwegian bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen. Nakama is Japanese and can be translated as ‘comrade’, or simply a community where no-one is above the other, but rather watches over one another.

The intimacy articulated on this album, then, is not of a sexual nature, but instead reflects the close interaction of artists working in collaboration. Can anything be more intimate than revealing the soul of one’s creative process, the core of one’s art?

At times discordant, at times venturing into free jazz, at times eerie, and at times playful, the album’s fifteen tracks bleed into one another to forge an aural journey. Over its course, the album demonstrates musical range and a certain depth. It’s not always fun, and it’s not always easy. But it’s never anything less than art. And the embossed cover is something special.

Nakama,

Clang – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s probably a press release somewhere, but I should probably just listen and lose myself in this. Endless Undo is a work of infinite subtlety, layered and detailed. It is, of course, the result of meticulous editing, a restive mind working and reworking, doing and endlessly undoing in order to achieve moments of microtonal bliss.

Böhm’s field is, ostensibly, the space between ambience and beat-propelled electronica: the compositions are rhythmic at heart, and while there are distinct and definite beats, they’re rarely dominant, and are often subdued, restrained or otherwise bouncing agitatedly in the background.

‘Heissenberg’ is built around bleeps and whistles, crackles drones and some swampy avant-electro percussion, and creates an enticing atmosphere without disclosing even a fraction of the range of the album as a whole.

‘Liub’ goes scratchy and glitchy against clanking electronica, explosive blasts of shuffling, processed beats and while it’s paired back and sparse on the surface, there is a lot going on: ‘Dezembur’ bumps and scrapes, bumps and scrapes its way through tremulous fear chords and dramatic yet understated piano. Glass tinkles and chimes while a single picked note hangs in the air for an eternity, swelling before a slow decay. It segues into the dense swell of ‘Klicker’, which builds to a bubbling, bassy groove which is far from ambient, bit so swampy as to be submersive.

There’s a definite arc to Endless Undo, and while it may only contain five tracks, over the course of its thirty-five-and-a-half-minute running time, Böhm may not exactly develop a sense of narrative, but does build upwards in solidity and intensity before the sparse, crystalline ‘Madeira’ turns in on itself to bring the album to a delicate yet moody close.

There’s a sense that Endless Undo is an album about potentials: the end product is simply the version the artist has settled on after a relentless tweaking and adjustment. It could have been a very different album. But then again, perhaps not, but we will never know.

Volker Böhm – Endless Undo

MC/CD/DL – Nakama Records –NKM012 – 22nd September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m not entirely sure what a no-input mixer is, and I’m not sure I have the energy or motivation to find out. But it’s one of the ‘instruments’ Utku Tavil ‘plays’ on this album, in addition to snare drum and sampler.

What I do know is that Juxtaposition is a studio work of four Oslo based improvisers (and not the indie mongs who went by the same name who came round to my flat in Glasgow in 2000 to be photographed by my achingly hip flatmate) recorded in the spring of 2016. Various timbres of opposite extreme, as a result of each musicians’ different approach and background, coexist without hierarchical restrictions. Having that in mind during playing, the mixing process played a crucial role to deliver a concrete body of equalitarian sonic output. Without compromise, moments of joy and pain, screams, feedback and bird sounds are layered on top of each other.

This is not music that’s easy to listen to, let alone love. Scraping, distorted clanks and clatters echo atop growling, prowling, near subsonic bass intrusions and an elongated howl of sustain. And that’s just the first thirty seconds. An overloading mass of shuddering, screeding extranea rapidly builds to skull-crushing intensity, as shrieks of treble erupt like solar flares from amidst the tempestuous racket.

‘Pakistansk Mango’ is a fiendish mash of vocals – Natali Abrahamsen Garner does not sound of this world, and it’s hard to compute that the sounds emanating from her being are untreated, unprocessed – shudder and judder to a babble of stuttering repetition, against a backdrop of bubbling synths, ear-shredding bursts of pink and white noise, and nail-scraping feedback reminiscent of Total Sex era Whitehouse. Pleasant it is not. In fact, as distorted metallic bangs and hammers batter through a sonic riot of indeterminate origin, I’m feeling pretty fucking tense.

A yammering percussion that sounds like a cross between a locomotive and a nailgun provides the spine behind a whirling aural assault for ‘Revolver’.

Natali Abrahamsen Garner and Agnes Hvizdalek’s voices exist outside the realm of the human, and serve to add a disturbing, unheimlich aspect to the already hellish, grating sonic torture. Screams, shrieks howls and growls are all integral to the traumatic experience. ‘1000 Poeng’ features a host of primal screams over growling synth bass and brutal, waspish feedback. On ‘Enkle I’, a deranged bleating entwines with a surging skitter of overloading electronics and a swirling vortex of nastiness, and a mess of brown noise buzz blasts in around five minutes into the final track, ‘Trost’.

Juxtaposition is a cruel and punishing work, which exploits the full sonic spectrum and every texture, from grainy abrasion to the razor-sharp to inflict maximum pain.

AAA

- dsn - JUXTAPOSITION - VIDEO titles