Posts Tagged ‘Clang Records’

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

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clang records – clang47 – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

With Band Ane, Ane Østergaard has created her own musical world: armed with a singular magpie mindset and a laptop, she has spent the last decade incorporating elements of ambient, musique concrete, pop and avant-garde, Anish Music is essentially a genre unto itself.

If 2014’s Anish Music Caravan was an other-worldy exploration into unknown sonic territories, there’s a definite sense of order and structure to this outing: the three tracks which make up the EP Anish Music V form a triptych of complimentary and successively evolutionary pieces.

Beginning with a crackle and crystalline ambient tones, ‘Borrowed’ understatedly commences an EP which transitions effortlessly and imperceptibly through a shifting soundscape formed with delicate layers. Together, these layers create a sense of density, and a growing weight. Around the mid-point of the Spooneristic ‘Vultimerse’, a rumble of thunder peaks in a dark crescendo. It’s powerful, forceful, yet still texturally detailed and multi-faceted. It’s here that Ane transcends genre boundaries, stepping above ambience to foreground instrumental music. There’s a rare boldness about it.

‘The Pool’ is an expansive work, gentle washes of sound are rent with the dense roaring jet of a rocket taking off before floating, bleeping and crackling. Ane’s vocal appears on the EP for the first time, a haunting, ethereal whisper which drifts in and out on a soft ripple of humming ambience.

In some respects, it’s difficult to really summarise the qualities of Anish Music V, and even more difficult to present an objective critique. This is music which gently goads the listener’s senses and operates on something of a subliminal level. It’s a rather pleasant experience.

 

Band Ane - V

clang records – clang045 – 19th August 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

A note hangs in the air, sustaining, resonating, slowly decaying. Just before silence encroaches, the next note is struck. It hovers, hangs and gradually fades. A slow, oscillating drone crawls beneath. There is movement, but it’s evolutionary.

‘Brittle Evenings’ is led by an unfurling picked guitar line, deliberate, ponderous, reminiscent of the later Earth albums. Ghostly tones remain, sonic erasures which correspond with the idea of the palimpsest, and offer clues to the way the pieces formed. 14 short, quiet guitar pieces penned by Bell Monks for an art opening in 2012 provided the basis for the work. Later, they invited Ben Willis and Matt Sintchack (contrabass and saxophone respectively) to play over the tracks. Despite the addition of these new layers, they still felt the work seemed incomplete, and so called upon Gregory Taylor to rework the tracks digitally. Finally, with over 100 minutes of audio, it was Lars Graugaard’s editing which shaped the ten pieces which comprise the final track-listing. As such, the album is the result ofnear-infinite layering, relayering, additions and deletions.

But as to where one individual’s contribution ends and another’s begins is impossible to determine, and the beauty of the album is the way in which the parts blend, smudge, and blur together, folding into and over one another, obscuring, reshaping and remoulding to accommodate or obliterate previous layers and edits.

Each piece is also formed around shifting tones and sounds, the shapes and structures indistinct, fluid. Indeed, very little of the original guitar work is in evidence on listening to these pieces. Warm tones and an organic feel permeate the album’s fabric, although this is touched by a counterpoint of mechanical sounds, whirring, grating, rumbling. As one layer of sound fades, another emerges, leaving the shadows of the one before. Long, mournful strings quaver over rippling electronics and dulcimer-like chimes flicker in soft washes of sound. On ‘…Et Tremblant Feuilles’, perhaps the album’s most linear piece, a sonorous bass with gothic overtones builds a darkly ominous atmosphere.

The semi-industrial dark ambience of ‘Caress of Sun’ is constructed of layers of sound, heavy drones and interminably elongated scrapes, growing denser, deeper and more abstract as it progresses, emerging in a dazzlingly kaleidoscopic world. It isn’t until the album’s eighth track, ‘Sublimation Residue’, that the guitar becomes prominent once again, and once again, it gradually fades out to be engulfed by a soft sonic cloud.

 

Bell Monks   Gregory Taylor

Clang Records – Clang 042 – June 10th 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Hans Tammen’s Music for Choking Disklavier was one of the first albums to be reviewed here on Aural Aggravation, back in December last year. Deus Ex Machina finds Tammen continue to explore the possibilities of instruments when played in a fashion they were not designed to be played. Since 2000, Tammen has been working with the ‘Endangered Guitar’, and tirelessly developing its functionalities.

Tammen’s website summarises this ‘Guitar-Controlled Live Sound Processing’ in a fshion that’s more intriguing than explicitly instructive: ‘The Endangered Guitar is a journey through the land of unending sonic operations, an interactive hybrid between a guitar and a computer. The software “listens” to the playing, to then determine the parameters of the live sound processing. The guitar is the sound source, but the same sound is also used to control the software. Sounds of the guitar are processed in realtime, pitch and various other parameters of the actual playing serve as control source of the processing. Currently, additional control sources are provided by a Leap Motion Controller.’ Technical yet simultaneously vague, what it boils down to is that Tammen has devised a guitar / computer hybrid, and in 2004 her introduced a random element to the software.

Tammen’s collaboration with Lars Graugaard under the Infernal Machines moniker, which came out earlier this year, was more about utilising the Endangered Guitar in a tempered, moderated and counterbalanced way. In contrast, this live recording, the title of which references the theatrical practice of lowering a ‘god’ character on stage using a cable device in order to resolve a troublesome situation in the plot of a play, and in which Tammen casts himself the role of the actor, lowered to the stage to daringly intervene, is built on improvisation and a wide-ranging exploration of the hybrid instrument’s capabilities.

Tammen writes of the computer crashing while performing, and of how wildly unpredictable the whole setup is, and this very much translates into the audio captured on the album.

Scratched overdriven chords and discords splinter and snarl. Massive, distorted, overloading sludged-up Sunn O)))-like drones rumble on… and on… walls of sound collapse in on themselves. Pickups cut in and out intermittently, feed back and crackle. Occasionally, recognisable notes – albeit notes that sounds like a version of Metal Machine Music are distinctly audible. There are no tunes to be found here, and often, it doesn’t even sound like a guitar. On ‘Transaxle’, the guitar effects the sound of violin strings being scraped, against a droning, wheezing sound like a deflating bellows, while on ‘Interlude at Rake’, it conjures a techno sound, replicating synth stabs and booming bass beats. Rapid, looping modulations, bleeps and squiggles replicate the effect of analogue synths, with sounds which would be at home on a track by Factory Floor or Whitehouse, and elsewhere, dark ambient passages hum, rumble, grind and billow and grating industrial barrages relentlessly assault the senses. At times, it hurts. But it’s also entertaining and often enjoyable: Deus Ex Machina is sonically challenging and one can’t help but contemplate just how the sounds of a guitar can be mutated in real-time to create the diverse and sometimes utterly insane sounds captured here. It’s by no means a novelty album, either: the concept of the Endangered Guitar may sound like something of a gimmick, but Tammen demonstrates that his leading preoccupation is with innovation for the purpose of creating new sound, and more importantly, creating something with those sounds.

 

 

Hans Tammens - Deus Ex Machina

clang records – clang040 – 20th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The formation of this four-track album emerged from something quite spontaneous. As Takeishi explains, ‘it was developed as a live percussion and electronics performance piece in Nov, 2015. The recordings from the actual performance and sound-check run-through were edited together to finalize the first three tracks of this release. I am very much fascinated by real time electronic processing of acoustic sounds. The fact that something simple and small, like a tap on a bell can be turned into a dense and intricate texture excites me with creative inspirations.’

As such, the recordings – at least the first three tracks here – are not only about process rather than composition, but are process, captured in real-time. And while the acoustic instruments are very much in evident, the way they very swiftly morph beyond recognition is, indeed, enthralling, because nothing is as it seems.

‘Primus’ twangs, detuned, retuned, out of tune, the notes bending and overlapping seemingly in a state of disorder, and soon the album’s trajectory reveals itself as fleeting moments of grace emerge from an ever-shifting away of tinkling chimes and funnelling drones. Strings scrape and scratch atop a woozy buzz on the lower frequencies and ominous hums hover and eddy.

The fourth track, ‘Quattour Elementa’ is essentially what the title suggests: four pieces put together to form one extended piece. Each segment offers a different sonic vista, formed as they are using different instruments – and only ever one or two on any one track. Again, it’s an exploratory piece that is concerned with, and captures, the process. Fortunately, rather than sounding like someone’s soundcheck or studio fiddling, or the musical equivalent of someone’s scrappy workings out for a new story or a difficult mathematical calculation, Dew Drops actually holds up as a work in its own right, and something worth listening to.

Dew-Drops-Cover-400px-312x312

 

Satoshi Takeishi – Dew Drops at clang Online

clang records – clang031 – 6th November 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

This isn’t how the instrument was designed to work. Just as John Cage made the piano sing in ways it really oughtn’t by the addition of various foreign objects, so Hans Tammen has made the Disklavier his choice of instrument for desecration.

The Disklavier, for those who don’t know (and I’ve had to research this) is an electronic piano produced by Yamaha, which first came on the market in 1987. The way it works is key to Tammen’s project, and I’m going to quote from that fount of all information, Wikipedia, here, and accept any harangues over ‘lazy journalism’ because surely some research is better than none: ‘The typical Disklavier is a real acoustic piano outfitted with electronic sensors for recording and electromechanical solenoids for playback. Sensors record the movements of the keys, hammers, and pedals during a performance, and the system saves the performance data as a Standard MIDI File (SMF). On playback, the solenoids move the keys and pedals and thus reproduce the original performance.’

Tammen’s project is concerned with the ‘hidden sonic qualities’ of the machine. Tammen explains his methodology thus: ‘technically the Disklavier is fed too much information, and at the lowest possible volume. At this point the hammers do not have enough power to bang the strings anymore, and ideally they only vibrate to produce low a rumbling sound. Occasionally the MIDI brain stops for a few seconds – “chokes” – on a chord due to the data overload, hence the title Choking Disklavier’.

Calling to mind Reinhold Friedl’s 2011 ‘Inside Piano’, a colossal exploration of the prepared piano, Music for Choking Disklavier finds Hans Tammen make his instrument sing in unexpected ways, and with intriguing and often very interesting results. And it’s not all unlistenable, experimental noise, either. There are clear and definite tunes present here, albeit played in the most skewed of fashions.

A clumping rhythmic trudge provides the basis of ‘Ascending and Descending Chairs’; over what sounds like slow marching feet, delicate single piano notes rise crystalline into the rarefied air, The levels of dissonance and discord grow as the notes begin to emerge stunted, jarring. ‘Looking Down Sacramento Street’ resembles the whupping hum of a helicopter’s rotas; and so many of the sounds which occupy the album are rhythmic, mechanical, and owe little resemblance to a piano, electreic or otherwise.

The compositions make full use of the Disklavier’s diverse capabilities, especially when messed with. Swing goes south and ragtime goes out of time with fuzz and crackle, the sound of drunken piano being played with wild abandon in heavy rain, and thumping the low notes with a dogged persistence: these are the sounds that tinkle and topple precariously from the speakers at the hand of Hans Tammen. It’s an innovative work, which finds Tammen exploring ways of making new sounds by previously unexplored means and confirms, pleasingly, that originality isn’t entirely dead yet.

 

Tammen

http://tammen.org/