Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

Dret Skivor – DRET 009 – 3rd September, 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

On the face of it, it’s a straightforward question. But chewing on it a little longer than is probably advisable, like a lump of gristle you can’t quite find an opportune moment to spit out discreetly at a family meal, it presents a range of different potential inflections, from the casual ‘how do you like your noise?’ delivered with the same intonation as ‘how do you like your steak / coffee / eggs?’ through to the rather more personal but interrogative ‘how do you like your noise?’

So while listening to the ten pieces on this short release, available digitally and as a C20 cassette, I gave this some consideration. It wasn’t necessary, but then, not a lot is, beyond the basic functions of eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Then again, art has existed longer than civilisation, and perhaps it’s not so wild to think that giving an outlet to one’s thoughts and feelings which transcend verbalisation is also necessary in the most fundamental sense. Perhaps we need art to live. This act of consideration in itself made me realise that a lot of noise is something that’s possible to think alongside listening to. It isn’t that it’s necessarily undemanding: it’s often far from it. It’s just that noise has the capacity to free the mind in ways that more structured genres, and modes of music more geared towards beats and lyrics can often pull the brain waves into their structures instead of encouraging that certain mental drift. Of course, ‘noise’ can be subject to a host of interpretations, sometimes with an interchangeability with ‘sound’. Specifically, here, though, I’m talking about noise.

And ultimately, I can only conclude that I do like my noise harsh. For some reason, noise that makes me grit my teeth and chew the inside of my mouth while I’m listening is the noise that meets the needs of my inner workings. It excites me and sets me on edge. I suppose it’s because ultimately, when it comes to this shade of noise, all you can do is submit to it, and it’s a cathartic release to allow the sound to draw the stress from the mind and body.

How do you like your noise? is pitched as ‘a bunch of noises recorded live 2020 and gems from the archives’, and while it’s not always clear which represents which, there’s no shortage of nasty abrasion on offer here, and it’s clear that Pulsen ‘get’s noise – by which I mean, he has a handle on the effects of varying textures and frequencies, and how shifts between different ranges can trigger both physical and cerebral responses. The grating ‘metal massage’ and squalling electronic blitzkrieg of ‘urbanoise’ are exemplary of the kind of circuit-melting experimentation that many will find painful and torturous, and be grateful for their merciful brevity.

There’s range here: ‘dead man’ is a sparse and spacious guitar piece that borders on post rock, while ‘ringu’ does some glitchy warpy bendy note electronics tricks and teeters on the brink of some kind of electrojazz odyssey. There’s also some whimsical faffery, clattering and clanking around that’s more throwaway interlude than composition, with sub-minute snippets like ‘still haven’t found what i was looking for’.

And so, I changed my mind: I like my noise varied. On this release, Poulsen shows the full spectrum of his versatility, and the range of his noise. I like my noise, and I like this a lot.

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SIGE Records – SIGE103 – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It was The Decline Effect, a full decade ago, which provided my introduction to the work of Jim Haynes. It was an album I described as ‘bleak’, commenting on the way it reminded me of ‘Robert Burton’s 17th Century text The Anatomy of Melancholy, which detailed in the richest language the terrible physical symptoms of melancholy and its effects on the humours of the body. It still stands as a fitting description of a work by an artist whose career is devoted to ‘compositions of corrosion, shortwave radio, and tactile noise’.

Haynes’ inspiration for this latest offering was environmental, circumstantial, situational, as he recounts: “I completed this record in the fall of 2020. Much of the western states of the US was ablaze for months. The anxiety of the collective American psyche was ubiquitous, also due to the Presidential elections in November of that year. And When The Sky Burned became an appropriate title given the environmental and political climate of that particular time.”

But what’s also fascinating is the more subtle use of reference, of intertext: Haynes explains that When The Sky Burned When The Sky Burned is ‘also a reference to Zbigniew Karkowski’ – before going on to explain his ‘complicated, if distant relationship’ and subsequent hostility from both Karkowski and Andrew McKenzie, aka The Hafler Trio, for what appear to be the most disproportionate of reasons.

Haynes dedicates the album to both McKenzie and Karkowski ‘whether they like it or not’, writing on the latter, ‘After his death, I most certainly felt a sorrow that the world has lost this artist, but I was also very conflicted as I wish there could have been a conversation about what happened. I don’t think he was capable of remorse or reconciliation, but I wonder if I was wrong in that analysis. So this album is a tenuous homage to Karkowki’s early works – with the chest, cavity rattling lows and the shrill sustained high frequencies. The title in fact is a direct translation of the opening piece to that aforementioned Silent CD – "Als der Himmel brannte." But of course, I can never leave anything so static alone, and the heaps of noise, junk, and dissonance were required."

Haynes is an absolute master when it comes to noise, junk, and dissonance, and When The Sky Burned is abrim with all three.

As album openings go, the first few seconds of ‘Multiple Gunshots’, are striking, shocking, even, as blasts of percussion – which slam like gunshots – hit the listener without warning. They arrive a succession of hard blasts – some warping backwards, and Haynes manipulates them to forge an erratic but devastatingly heavy beat. I’m reminded of how Swans sampled a nailgun and pitched it up and down for the punishing rhythm on ‘Time is Money (Bastard)’, and this builds a grind of rapidly oscillating drones that flicker and shudder. Seven minutes in, the drones rise to a shriek, before obliterative distortion decimates any semblance of musicality. Everything combines to forge an intense and oppressive eleven minutes where little happens other than the listener suffering a brutal sonic punishment.

Between this, and the ten-minute ‘Appropriate to a Sad, Frightened Time’, Haynes presents a series of compositions that really test the listener’s capacity for noise and overall endurance. ‘Abruptly Scattered’ sounds like an enormous generator’s throb, occasionally rent with blasts of explosive treble noise as if said generator is bursting into flames. The tonal separation is well-defined: the bass sends the most uncomfortable vibrations through the pit of your gut, while the shrill, harsh treble smash makes you clench your teeth and fear for your hearing. You swallow hard, feeling uncomfortable, wondering if you’re going to suffer tinnitus or diarrhoea first, and pray it’s not both simultaneously.

Haynes’ explorations are brutal and harsh, and the set as a whole is truly relentless. Heavy crunches and grinding, gut-churning growls are suddenly ruptured by unexpected thacks and cracks, detonations, and the kind of heavy impact that makes the car-door slams used for punches in films sound like friendly pats on the shoulder. Swirling vortices of noise on noise howl and shriek, violent sonic tornadoes that inflict devastating levels of damage tear from the speakers, and even the moments of calm are unsettling, uneasy.

When The Sky Burned is not a nice album, but it’s a remarkable one, one that quite literally crackles with intensity, and genuinely hurts in places. But while it is relentlessly abrasive and often excruciating, Haynes’ attention to tone and texture, and the way the utilises these elements to forge a work of immense range isn’t only admirable on the technical, sonic, and compositional levels, but also results in an album that has massive impact, and is an outstanding example of well-crafted and intuitive electronic noise.

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Clicks are now releasing a video clip for the track ‘Dropdead’, which once again stresses the sharp ironic humour of the Polish electro project. ‘Dropdead’ is the third single taken from the forthcoming new full-length "G.O.T.H.", which has been scheduled for release on April 16.

Watch the video here:

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WHY Record Company (WRC) – 20th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Once again, Gintas Kraptavicius, aka Gintas K has shamed me with his relentless output. Sure, Art Brut is only his second released of the year, but then, it is only the first week of April, and he’s maintained a pretty steady flow of two or three albums a year since 2003, and that’s before you get to the collaborations and visual projects. And if cranking out improvised sets using various permutations of keyboard and battered laptop with software seems to be something that can be done relatively quickly in principle, the setting up of said software for optimal effect, and devising how best to exploit it to achieve one’s aims and objectives can be time-consuming.

Art Brut finds Gintas delve deep into the most extreme digital territory in a while, with some wild improvisation and some pretty harsh keyboard battering conjuring a brain-frothing array of stammers and glitches, bleeps and bloops, all stop-starting, stutters, judders and clunks. This is one of those ‘everything all at once’ efforts that leaves you dizzy and bewildered, drowning in a digital foam. The experience is jittery and intense.

Although a digital release, it’s clearly designed as an album of two halves, corresponding with two sides of vinyl or cassette, with the three parts of ‘Art Brut’ in combination spanning some twenty-two minutes, and virtual B-side, the three parts of ‘Al Sublime’ stretching out over a similar duration, with the ten-minute ‘Al Sublime #2’ extending beyond the ten-minute mark.

The three movements of ‘Art Brut’ melt together in a transistor-troubling digital meltdown. Tractor beans and laser blast tear through warped tapes spinning on fast forward, and the whole bathful of bubbling noise swashes and sways in lurching waves. Fizzes and crackles and sparks fly like a heater dropped in, and you can almost hear the sizzling of flesh as electrodes pop at a rate of a hundred a minute. Everything fizzes, pops, squeaks, squeals and crackles in a crunching blizzard of scrappy, scratchy skitters and scrapes, and every single second is different.

‘Al Sublime’ isn’t radically different from ‘Art Brut’, but it is different nevertheless, with the effervescence countered by a broiling volcanic low-end simmer that grumbles and ferments. The low-end thrumming is at times almost subliminal, a humming drone that buzzes and grates, but is so often almost buries in the hectic insectoid clamouring. But this is also slower, lower, more warped and droning. Twisted tones resemble human voices, elongated moans droning become quite unsettling as gurgling electronic trails rise and fall and as jangling, chiming blips bounce off one another at random angles atop the gurgling discombobulation as if a blender is being sucked into a minuscule black hole, it all becomes to much to digest and assimilate… but then save for the two minute scrabble and scrape of a curtain closer in the form of the stammering ‘Al Sublime#3’ – a brief but tense bookend to an extended exercise in fractured fragmentation that digs deep into the cranial cavities and leaves you feeling slightly violated.

It’s a return to previous territory for Gintas K, and Art Brut finds him on peak form.

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15th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a full decade since I first encountered the surreal & fantastical world of Sone Institute, the vehicle for electronic artist Roman Bezdyk, and I’ve followed his work up to 2018’s Where Moth and Rust Consume, which was championed by 6Music’s Gideon Coe.

Bezdyk’s output has always been interesting, and always evolving, and this standalone single release, which spans a full ten minutes, is an evocative work which draws together, as the title suggests, the sea and the echoes of memory.

There is something unique about the sea and its pull, and I suspect many of us have some memory connected to the sea, be it a family holiday or a journey by boat or ferry. And because the sea is capable of such very different states or moods, from the tranquil lapping of a low ebb to the raging torment of a storm or even a tsunami, so our relationships with the sea are likely to be wide and varied, and a love of the ocean must necessarily be tempered by a certain caution.

Chiming bells ring out against a sloughing wash of waves on a beach, and ‘Memory and the Sea’ brings the more tranquil aspect of the tides to the fore instead of elevating the tempests that can destroy lives and landscapes, through a combination of field recordings and abstract wavering drones. Amidst woozy, warping electronic tones the listener is pulled back to some kind of reimagining of the sea in some almost generic form: every moment spent either building sandcastles or otherwise simple staring out across the rolling waves merge together to forge a new consciousness which may or may not be real. The colour fades and takes on a Polaroid filter, or the soft hue of a dream. Wish you were here?

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Dret Skivor – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Recently-launched Swedish label Dret Skivor has a fairly broad remit in its commitment to being ‘Locally focussed but stretching out to droneheads, noiseheads, ambientheads and weirdoheads across Scandinavia’. Stylistically, it’s pretty much a case of anything goes as long as it’s not remotely mainstream – but that certainly doesn’t mean that anything that’s vaguely accessible is off-limits, and Fern’s Inhibitory Shortcomings, described as ‘is a minimalistic digital multi-tracked adventure’ isn’t unpleasant or overtly challenging to any ear that’s accustomed to alternative electronica.

This set has something of a 90s vibe initially, a woozy wash of electronics, cracking static, and sampled dialogue and horns dominating the eclectic cut-up that is ‘in´ros50’. As such, while inspired granular looping, FM and different sampling techniques. AS such, while inspired by ‘the avant-garde music produced by the San Francisco Tape Center (among others) during the 1960’s’, William Burroughs’s tape experiments, as filtered through the prism of albums like Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, produced with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, also very much seem to inform the sonic collage pieces on offer here.

‘digi´al_r3alm pt1’ and counterpart ‘digi´al_r3alm pt2’ combine clacking, clattering tonal-based percussion with obscure oscillations and a static crackle like a downpour of rain: the latter drags down into gloomy, eerie atmospherics with a hesitant bass throb underpinning insectoid skitterings and dank sloshing washes that slop back and forth listelessly.

It’s a solid drum-based percussion that dominates the beginning of ‘dr3´_0032’ before the tape starts spooling backwards and everything gets sucked back towards it source.

None of the pieces are particularly long – only ‘digi´al_r3alm pt2’ exceeds four minutes – but each is rich in atmosphere and texture, packing in a dense array of sounds that collide against one another, bouncing off the wall of dark subterranean caverns of the mind to conjure some unsettling images. Flittering tweets and scraping squeaks abound, as do dripping sonic droplets that splash into spacious reverberations.

Closer ‘ou´ros51’ perhaps feel the most dislocated and dissonant of all of the compositions, a slow, decaying loop of an analgesic trip-hop beat and blooping laser sounds drags on repetitively, gradually slowing the senses to a slightly disorientated fog of drowsiness.

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24th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Like many artists during life in lockdown, Foldhead has been enjoying a spell of enormous creativity. Well, enjoying may not be quite the word: immersion in work for therapeutic purposes is as much a necessity as a joy, and moreover, as his recent spate of output highlights, zanntone is a highly political animal, and some recent events have sparked an ire that can only be purged through noise.

Skegdeath, released in March, served up an obliterative wall of noise against hundreds of thousands who reportedly descended on Skegness beach on Saturday 21st, the final days before official lockdown landed, against advice on social distancing. The Guardian ran a headline quoting a local dentist who said that it was ‘a disaster waiting to happen.’ It did happen, of course, and it didn’t wait long.

But that didn’t stop the government’s top advisor from doing the precise opposite of staying at home, saving lives, and protecting the NHS by driving his child, in the company of his wife who was suffering symptoms of Covid-19 some 260 miles from London to Durham to stay on his parents’ property, and taking a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight was ok to make the journey home once they’d all recovered, despite having been barely able to walk the day before. He called it ‘reasonable’ and parental responsibility; half the country called it bullshit.

Foldhead refers to this punchy two-tracker, which would make for a neat 7” single at any other time as ‘A reaction to a piece of shit I will not sully my vocal chords by naming’, although the cover art leaves us in no doubt.

‘Carrion / Carrier’ marks one of Foldhead’s most brutal sonic assaults, five minutes of squalling, head-shredding electrical noise, with infinite layers of static and feedback and more noise on top. You can almost imagine him turning knobs so hard as to almost napping them off, and jamming down pedals and circuitry with brute force in order to channel the fury. Because nothing inspires rage like deceit and hypocrisy, apart from when that deceit and hypocrisy is so brazen and comes from a place of such self-confidence and superiority.

‘Poundshop Gollum’ is a howling, braying racket, somewhere between feedback and the anguished sounds of a dying heifer or maybe an elephant, against a backdrop of metal being crushed in a wrecker’s yard. There are fleeting moments that carry echoes of the most twisted, abstract jazz, but above all, it’s the sound of torture.

Amidst all of the outpourings of anger on social media, and even in the mainstream media, this release perhaps makes the strongest and clearest statement of all: because there are no words. The language of sound is the most articulate.

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Canadian multi-media artist Jay Crocker presents what’s being pitched as his ‘third and most impressive Joyfulktalk album, a tour-de-force of modern composition systems music for electronics and strings. A Separation Of Being is based on Crocker’s mural-sized visual score artwork and his Planetary Music System of rotational interlocking notation. Channelling minimalism, Japanese environmental music, Maghrebian rhythmic modes and other numinous folkways, and featuring string arrangements performed by Juno and Polaris Prize winner Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Destroyer). A Separation Of Being is translated from two-dimensional page to trans-dimensional aural life using an array of homemade instruments.

As a taster, Crocker’s shared the 9-minute track ‘Pixelated skin’, which you can check out here:

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(Photo Credit  Annie France Noel)

SVS Records

Christopher Nosnibor

This one positively explodes in the opening moments: a swirling black hole of noise that eviscerates the senses and assaults the eardrums with such ferocious force and excruciating volume that it feels like the end. The actual, living end.

Yet again, I find myself scrabbling for the press release while questioning the benefit of being told about the origins, mechanics or methodology behind the work. And so I find myself research one-line, and discover the visuals which accompany the audio, and begin to develop a real appreciation of the multimedia vision of Lukas Rehm, operating as Lybes Dimem for the purpose of the Syncleft Chronem project, a work which celebrates error and explores the relationship between various input stimuli and cognitive frictions. It’s complex, but can be readily reduced to the experience itself.

The visuals intensify the experience, but the sonic experience alone is intense and brings a blistering sensory overload. Syncleft Chronem is loud, attacking. Uncomfortable. Placing the album isn’t easy but then, it’s not entirely necessary: as a barrage of electronic noise with beats, it’s a work which assaults the listener from the outset with its sonic intensity, a combination of dense walls of noise, abrasive textures and tones, and sheer volume. How do you feel? I’m feeling tense, but excited, exhilarated as this racket assails my ears. Rehm clearly isn’t making music to win friends or influence people. He’s generating sound to see what it sounds like and how it feels.

Sometimes, you simply don’t need words. On ‘Saas’, there are threats of dancefloor-friendly beats for an industrial night as booming 4/4 bass thumps start up – but they halt abruptly, and the whole thing fractures and fragments. Everything halts before it hits a stride, everything jolts and shudders. Everything is too loud to hear properly.

Syncleft Chronem is brutal, in the sense that it affords no respite, no pause for thought. And nor should there be an apology for this: as with the best art, its intensity sustains fever pitch, is uncomfortable, feeds tension to the point of perspiration and palpitation. It hurts.

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SOFA – SOFA552 – 7th October 2016

James Wells

Le Stanze is Ingar Zach’s fifth solo album. His previous works have explored the potentials of percussion and electronic sources for the basis of his compositions, and Le Stanze sees him continue to expand in this field. ‘Groundbreaking’ is a word which is used in reference to many artists, often somewhat spuriously: in Zach’s case, it’s entirely apposite. While many of the sounds are overtly percussive in origin, it’s where Zach takes the sounds which renders Le Stanze such a fascinating album.

A flurry of sticks against skin is followed by silence. The silence is as important as the sound: Zach understands contrast and dynamics. He also understands range: single thuds at an infinite range of timbres contrast with chimes and jangles, scrapes and long-decaying echoes. A mesmeric heartbeat-paced thud underpins a sustained clamour of tinkling chimes like an alarm bell. Long, low notes loom beneath, almost subsonic, almost subliminal.

On ‘Il Battito Del Vichingo’, a battery of tribal percussion builds to a polyrhythmic frenzy. It contrasts with the drifting ambience of ‘L’inno Dell’ Oscurita’ and again with the shifting, sharp-edged metallic ibrationss of ‘E Soplitudine’, which slowly builds a long, sonorous drilling hum. In places, it’s almost unbearable in its tonal intensity, frequencies which assault the aural receptors and scrape at the soft matter within the cranial cavity.

Not only is it an intriguing listen, but on Le Stanze, Zach brings a magic, a mystery, to the act of making music, the process.

 

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