Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Ici d’ailleurs – 15th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The gathering together of Aidan Baker (guitar), Gaspar Claus (cello), Franck Laurino (drums) and Maxime Tisserand (clarinets) was engineered by Stephane Gregoire, Ici d’ailleurs’ artistic director for the purpose of simply seeing what would happen. The four were selected because of their musical dissimilarities, and the fact they did not know one another personally or musically. As such, the element of chance was one of the leading factors in the emergence of the pieces which make up the album. All of this makes Serendipity an appropriate addition to the ‘Mind Travels Series’ releases, of which it is the eighth.

Serendipity brings its share of unexpected twists and turns, sudden changes in tone and direction, but what’s more remarkable is just how smoothly it flows. And while there are expansive ambient passages, it’s certainly not an ambient record.

‘A day staring at eternity’ part 1 begins with an elongated, broad sweeping drone before strolling percussion and a wandering bass brings a sense of structure and more linear movement on ‘part 2.’ Through disconsolate, minimal jazz – horns lost in a wilderness of sighing drones – to a funereal darkness and eventually racing, urgently towards…what? eternity is not fixed, but stretching out across myriad horizons, all of which are uncertain.

‘Drawn with the wind,’ also in four parts, works a seam of expansive space-age prog with ambient undercurrents. A motoric swell of urgent percussion propels the composition relentlessly forwards, before stepping back in tempo and position to forge a distant thunder amidst eddying drones. The fourth part blossoms into a spectacular sonic sunburst, a slow groove at its heart. The performance and production coalesce to create a spellbinding moment.

The twenty-one-minute ‘After all the sun is awakening’ is immense in every sense, a widescreen krautrock drone that sways and swirls hypnotically. Strings drift and drape over rumbling sonic abstraction which envelop the listener.

The last two pieces, ‘We host you’ and ‘Fructification’ stand somewhat apart from the rest of the release. Shorter, more linear and overtly psychedelic, the former is a nifty noodlesome nugget, while the latter somehow represents the culmination of Orchard’s objective, incorporating as it does all elements of the album with condense concision, weaving around a paired-back yet insistent groove.

As a whole, Serendipity is an impressive work which demonstrates the power of collaboration when the right people come together – making Orchard a fruitful collaboration indeed.

AAA

orchard_1000px_rvb

Advertisements

Unsounds – 57u – 10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Unsounds have a history of releasing magnificently-packaged albums, and Subvoice by Yannis Kyriakides is up there with the best of them. The double CD is housed in a chunky hardcover book binding, which contains an actual book, some forty pages in span.

My introduction to the concept of the subvoice came via William Burroughs, who, around the time he was exploring the myriad potentials of the cut-up technique, made innumerable audio experiments. While most of these involved tape splicing, dropping in and cutting out, some investigated the subvoice in a most literal fashion. Some of these barely audible and even more barely listenable recordings appeared on Nothing Here Now But the Recrdings on Industrial records, with the liner notes describing ‘Throat Microphone Experiment’ – if memory serves – as a not entirely successful attempt to capture subvocal speech.

The definition of ‘subvocal’ is ‘relating to or denoting an unarticulated level of speech comparable to thought’. Kyriakides describes the works in the collection as ‘an investigation into ideas of voice and language [which] range from works in which text is directly encoded into music… to ones in which the voice is examined, dissected and pulled apart’. He explains that ‘in both approaches the underlying idea is to explore what happens when material has a clear semantic form, whether communicated in text or speech, is translated into musical structure’.

While thematically and theoretically linked, the nine pieces – which have a combined running time of almost two and a half hours – are from quite distinct and separate collaborative projects Kyriakides was involved in between 2010 and 2015.

The first piece on disc one, ‘Words and Song Without Words’ is the shortest work, being a couple of seconds under ten minutes, but appropriately introduces the kind of sonic palette Kyriakides and his collaborators – in this instance, Francesco Dillon, who contributes cello – work from. ‘Paramyth’ is eerie, disconsolate, the cracked ramblings splayed in all directions over tense piano and uncomfortable strings, but ultimately peters out into something softer. Skittering strings scurry busily in brief and disjointed flurries, hectically flying here and there, on ‘Toponymy’. Muffed voices bring a discomforting sense of the unheimlich, a sense of the intangible and of something just out of the reach of understanding.

Ominous notes hover and ring on the last piece on the first disc, ‘Circadian Surveillance,’ a twenty-five minute exercise in haunting atmospherics, where distant voices are barely audible under a rumble of turning static and hovering notes which resonate into dead air.

Onto disc two, ‘Der Komponist’ – a composition for orchestra and computer – begins quietly, ominously, with protracted near-silences between delicate, low, slow builds, before horns begin to add cinematic drama. It’s very filmic, very – for wont of a better word – soundtracky, and is reminiscent of some of JG Thirlwell’s more recent orchestral works. The climax is a slow, swelling succession of surging brass, underscored by a rippling digital churn.

‘Politicus (Dawn in the Giardini’ is perhaps the lightest and most playful composition of the nine, and utilises the variability and versatility of the prepared disklavier. The original work was a twelve-hour sound installation. The booklet explains the technical aspects in great detail, and Kyriakides outlines the way in which algorithms based on speech drive the formulation of the piece, here in an abridged fourteen-minute segment. The immense complexities behind the composition are completely hidden from the listener, with the surface completely masking the mechanical depths.

The final piece, ‘Oneiricon’ is a work for ensemble and computers. It’s an exploration of dreams, and is often subtle to the point of subliminality. And because Subvoice is very much a ‘background’ work, while it often drifts for significant stretches without really pulling particularly hard on the attention, it does mean that its immense duration is not an issue. Equally, because Subvoice is a collection rather than a work conceived as a single continuous whole, it’s possible to listen and appreciate in segments, without absolute commitment. And it is an album to listen to and appreciate: Kyriakides’ compositions are varied and textured and demonstrate an attention to form and sonic detail which extends far beyond the basic premise of ‘the voice.’

a0933203676_10

American artist and performer Jarboe and Italian occult duo Father Murphy will be touring together Europe this Autumn, promoting a collaborative EP out September 22nd on Consouling Sounds.

Jarboe and Father Murphy’s connection runs deep. Jarboe continues to have a profound influence on Father Murphy’s musical path, and there is a strong, mutual understanding of what they define as a "sense of guilt", rooted in their Catholic upbringing, which informs their music, both together and independently. Approaching the EP, both Jarboe and Father Murphy each wrote a song, which they exchanged for the other to finalise, the result being a rich reflection of the spirit of both artists, and their meaningful bond. The Jarboe & Father Murphy EP was mastered by an infamous engineer, Davide Cristiani at Bombanella soundscapes studio in Italy, using a technique he calls "anti-mastering" whereby he irradiates the analogue master with deep, pure 432hz sounds in a process that somehow gives the master the same benefits than a defragmentation does to a hard disk. It works the sounds together in harmony, the result being much brighter and more real, which is very befitting to the release.

Father Murphy shall open with the rituality of their alluring live performance, followed by a haunting set that combines Jarboe’s unique voice and Father Murphy’s charmed sounds, together they shall draw upon Jarboe’s old and new songs, including the two brand new pieces from the EP. Full dates below…

LIVE DATES:

September

22 BE, Eeklo – N9

23 DE, Krefeld – Südbahnhof

24 DE, Berlin – Quasimodo

26 CZ, Brno – Kabinet Muz

27 CZ, Soulkostel – Soulkostel

28 PL, Poznan, LAS

29 PL, Torun – Klub NRD

30 PL, Gdansk – Smoke Over Dock II Festival at B90

October

1 PL, Warsaw – Distorted festival at Klub Hydrozagadka

2 PL, Lodz – Dom

4 LT, Riga – Gertrude Street Theater

5 RU, Moscow – 16 Tons

7 RU, St Petersburg – Place

10 SWE, Stockholm – Kraken

11 SWE, Karlstad – Tinvallakyrkan

12 NO, MOSS – House of Foundation

13 SWE, Gothenburg – Culture Night Festival at Goteborg Public Library

14 DK, Aarhus – Tape

16 CH, Basel – Unternehmen Mitte (Safe)

17 CH, Geneve – Cave 12

18 IT, Pistoia – Bruma Vol.III

19 CH, Busto Arsizio – Circolo Gagarin

20 FR, Lyon – Sonic

21 FR, Paris – Instants Chavirés

23 UK, London – St. Pancras Old church

24 UK, Leicester – The Musician

25 UK, Glasgow – Cottiers Church

26 UK, Preston – The Continental

28 BE, Bruxelles – Magasin 4

29 NL, Utrecht – Tivolivredenburg

November

2 PT, Lisbon – ZDB

3 PT, Porto – Understage

Christopher Nosnibor

Heaven may not be a venue one would immediately associate with heavy, heavy noise, but tonight it’s packed with a broad demographic that only a show as genre-smashing as the line-up would be likely to draw.

Bong are only just setting up their kit five minutes before they’re due on stage, but despite the absence of a proper soundcheck, they sound every bit as mighty as they ought. The Newcastle trio take their time, grinding out power chords with endless sustain without mercy during a half-hour set that contains just a single track. Epic is indeed the word. For all the leaning toward the doomy, droney low end, the guitar packs a crackling treble hit, which balances the sound against the shuddering, throbbing bass and the megalithic drumming, each thunderous beat registering individually on the Richter scale, crashing heavy through the 20bpm dirge with stutters and pauses to maximise the impact of each stroke. Their thirty-minute set consists of just one song. And this is precisely the way it should be: the band use the allotted time to fully demonstrate the expansive nature of their sound and compositions. This is heavy, grinding two-chord dredging pushed to the max and is designed to simultaneously batter and hypnotise the audience, and they deliver it beautifully.

Bong

Bong

If the reality of the studio realisation of Concrete Desert, the collaborative project which saw The Bug’s dubby dancehall stylings drawn out into infinite regressions of reverb as they collided with the dark drone of Earth’s earlier works felt somewhat restrained, and at times bordered on the ambient, in a live setting, the dynamics prove to be altogether different. Perhaps The Bug’s input felt somewhat muted on the release, as Carson’s murky, chiming ambient drones dominated he sound. Sure, the stealthy, bulbous bass and clacking beats, paired with quavering guitar notes which occupy the album’s grooves are atmospheric, but it often feels somewhat cautious, even subdued. Live, however, it’s an entirely different proposition and it feels far more like an equal partnership.

On the surface, the pair exist – and perform – in entirely separate, personal spaces, despite sharing a stage. The Bug – aka Kevin Martin – and Dylan Carlson, representing Earth, stand apart, separated by a wall of equipment: Martin is surrounded by banks of electronic gadgetry and stands focused on his Apple laptop for the majority of the set, while Carlson stands, side-on to the audience, one eye on Martin as he cranks out deep, seething drones and sculpted feedback squalls of noise.

DSCF8335

The Bug vs Dylan Carlson

Volume matters, and can so often prove to be integral to the live music experience: and this is loud. Proper, seriously, loud. Martin begins by sending bibbling waves of electronica out in juxtaposition to Carlson’s screeds of guitar: before long, it’s a veritable sonic tsunami as thunderous bass and violent blasts of percussion crash against a wall of relentlessly dense multitonal noise bleeding in every direction from Carlson’s fretboard. The bass frequencies – and gut-churning volume – are something else. Confetti glued by static electricity or other means to the venue’s high ceiling after being blasted out during the venue’s famous club nights shower down on band and audience alike as the thunderous vibrations rattle every molecule of the building’s interior fabric as well as my nostrils, my trousers and every inch of my flesh.

Many of the compositions are unrecognisable in relation to their studio counterparts, so radically reworked and so much more up front are the dynamics. This is no stealthy, sedate recreation of the album but something way more attacking and pure in its physicality. This is one of those sets which builds in intensity – and seemingly in volume – as it progresses, and toward the end, the pair drop a colossal slow-burner with slow, deliberate drops of bowel-shuddering bass frequencies: a single note resonates through the floor and the solar plexus for what feels like minutes, and the effect is utterly immersive and all-encompassing. The security guy in front of me, blocking the stairs (Heaven has a very strange arrangement of stairs up to the stag and only limited security at front of house, which is welcome), is clutching his ears despite waring plugs, and while it’s an uplifting euphoric experience which plasters a huge grin on my on face, it’s not hard to fathom why this much bass, and this much guitar, at this kind of volume, would cause discomfort. Because actually, it hurts. And that’s the best thing about it, because this is how it’s meant to be.

Bearsuit Records – 24th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Talk about a car crash. This split release between Swamp Sounds / Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods isn’t so much a hybridised sound clash as a head-on train wreck. Bearsuit Records can be relied upon for giving a platform for the most eccentric crossover works going, and this meeting of Japanese electronic/experimental musician, Yuuya Kuno, aka Swamp Sounds, and Scottish musician/artist, Douglas Wallace, aka Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods certainly fits the criteria.

You might broadly call it an experimental avant-disco / elecro album, but then you might equally call it pretty much anything you like, because it’s a brain-bending whirlpool of stylistic elements, thrown together with a wild and reckless abandon, with no regard for the effect it may have on the listener’s psyche.

And so it is that shrill analogue tweeking and frenetic, messy electro beats crash into a wall of screeding, mangled noise that pulses and throbs. The first half of the album belongs to Swamp Sounds, and the opener, ‘Marionette’, piles more ideas and juxtaposing elements into a dizzying three and a half minutes than seems even halfway sane.

When Uncle Pops takes over for the second half and things down to a more sedate groove, the overloading static abates, but as on ‘Harry Smith’s Paper Planes’, there’s still weird, woozy note bending in abundance, along with interruptions of extraneous noise and unexpected incidentals, tempo changes and myriad pan-cultural influences in the mix.

The split works well, as it means it’s not all crazy, deranged noise and mental overload: while switching between shuffling, low-key passages and cinematic sonic bursts, ‘Portrait in an Egg Cup’ brings both atmosphere and impressively expansive aural vistas, and by placing Swamp Soinds’ more manic stuff on what would effectively stands as side one , the album gradually tapers into more ambient territory over the course of the later tracks.

Exploring deep into the seam of the strange and excavating new layers of the uncanny, it’s all spectacularly oddball and wilfully weird, but without being smug or irritatingly zany in execution.

 

 

Swamp_Sounds-Uncle_Pops_Front_Cover

6th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Some reviews are seemingly fated. This is one such review: I was slow to get started, and then, having spent several evenings working on a detailed critical analysis, exploring the album’s wild eclectism on a more or less track-by-track basis in a discourse of some eight hundred words, my laptop crashed and most of the work was lost, with the only available version being a collection of notes which were days old. How it happened, when my word processor is set to autosave every five minutes, I have no idea. Thanks Microsoft.

Still, this is an Ashley Reaks album, and a man who can produce three albums in a year – and continue to produce art, and to gig relentlessly, under difficult personal circumstances – deserves the same kind of unbowing attitude from a reviewer.

Because it’s an Ashley Reaks album, anything can happen. And it will. And it does. Following on from Reaks’ ‘punk album’ This is Planet Grot (and a remarkable credible and impressive punk album at that), Growth Spurts, on the one hand, could be considered a return to more familiar territories. But then, on the other, it could justifiably be tagged his ‘jazz album’. The familiar elements of reggae and post-punk inspired dub are present and correct, but this collaboration-based collection of tunes also brings in some wild jazz stylings. The collaborative element is also key here, not only to appreciating Growth Spurts, but to understanding Reaks as an artist, at least as much as it’s possible to grasp such an idiosyncratic and singular individual.

Like his collage artwork, his music is a mish-mash of elements drawn from here, there and everywhere, often bolted together at weird angles and demonstrating incompatible proportions and lines of perspective. He has very much his own slant on things, and his approach is also very much his own: Reaks is one of the few artists who consistently produces work which has the capacity to surprise, to confound, and, occasionally, confuse – which is a healthy response to something which is so staunchly unconventional. You get the impression that Reaks’ raison d’être is to produce art which surprises and confounds himself, as much as any notional audience. His mindset appears to be that if it’s not fresh, unexpected, and if it’s not sincere, then it’s worthless. Collaboration, when done right, yields an output which is greater than the sum of its parts, and draws out facets of each contributor which may not otherwise be known.

As such, Growth Spurts is a world away from his previous collaborative effort, Cultural Thrift (2015) with poet Joe Hakim, on which Reaks stepped toward the rear portion of the stage to provide a background accompaniment (which in itself was a departure given Reaks’ propensity for dizzying soundclashes). Five of the ten pieces – it would be wrong to refer to this as a collection of songs, given that they feature spoken word and poetry – feature writers and poets from a broad and diverse range of backgrounds. They’re disparate characters, as varied as Reaks’ own sources of input, hand-picked to contribute to the album.

The result is dizzying, a rollercoaster journey through a vast swathe of cultural terrain. Each of the collaborative pieces is distinct and different, and finds Reaks attentive to the style of the different speakers. And as the strange, strangles vocal cacophony which introduces the album’s first track, the oddly ominous prog-dub drum‘n’bass neoclassical jazz mixup that is ‘Divorced from the Body’ shows, he’s digging deep to locate new and unexpected hybrids. And yet, amidst the chaos, he still whips up some killer hooks – something so many experimental / genre-smashing artists completely overlook in their quest to innovate, to dazzle with their imagination and technical prowess.

‘The Gentle Art of Ignoring’ with Sylvie Hill is the most outright jazz track on the album, and her sassy vocal delivery and confident Canadian accent brings another sharp dimension to an album which displays almost infinite dimensions, but there’s just so much to take in. But if you need a pointer for where to start, start with the basslines. The crashing jazz-influenced drum ‘n’ bass drumming, the wild brass, the myriad perspectives of the different vocalists all slot into place over those low-down basslines that stroll and groove and leap and boogie. Get on down.

 

Ashley Reaks - Growth Spurts

Bocian Records – BC-AAJ

Christopher Nosnibor

As the title suggests, this is a three-way collaboration between Swiss composer Antoine Chessex, French purveyor of electronica Jerome Noetinger, and UK experimental ensemble Apartment House. The two long-form instrumental tracks were recorded live in 2014 and 2015 at Café OTO in London.

The sheer density of the sound of ‘Plastic Concrete’ from the very outset is astounding, a force as much physical as sonic. String skitters and strikes cascade amidst explosive detonations of sound. Playful horns tiptoe through bouncing double bass lines. The Apartment House musicians demonstrate just how versatile ‘conventional’ instruments can be, conjuring an array of textures and tones to forge shifting atmospheres, while Noetinger’s electronics and reel to reel tape work bring new dimensions and depths to the soundscape. Impressively, neither aspect of the instrumentation dominates: instead, electronic and acoustic exist in synergy.

A long, booming parp, resembling a ship’s horn echoes out to signal the beginning of ‘Accumulation’ Skittering, fear chord electronics and grinding, almost subsonic bass creep around before a clamour of woozy, shimmering discord takes hold. Playful passages, bordering on neoclassical in nature, offer a contrasting atmosphere to the darker, brooding passages which congeal into a heavy, amorphous sonic mass.

This is immense music. Physical music. Music that makes the skin crawl, the nerves tingle.

 

Apartment House