Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Panurus Productions – 19th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

What have we got there, then? It would appear to be a collaborative release from Drooping Finger and Möbius, utilising the former’s lo-fi minimal electronic drone as a setting for the latter’s looped wordless vocal textures.

I must admit that I’m unfamiliar with ‘Newcastle gloomlord’ Drooping Finger, but ‘melancholic vocal duo’ Möbius I am aware of. Their first collaborative work, imaginatively titled Drooping Finger & Möbius is pitched as combining their talents, and consists of their set at The Gosforth Hotel’s Sumner Suite and material recorded during a session at First Avenue Studios in Heaton.

And what does is give us? The BandCamp write-up tells us that ‘Guttural gurgles are embedded in glacial electronics whilst siren songs tumble overhead. The tones hover above the murk at times whilst disappearing into its eddies at others as the collaborative trio draw you into their bleak atmospherics’. And all of it’s true. Although mostly it’s the murk that dominates, with sounds and tonal ranges all but buried beneath a sonic smog.

The live side, (at least corresponding with the cassette release) containing one track simply entitled ‘Sumer Suite’ is first, and is 26 minutes of dark ambient rumblings and janglings and mid-range drones, punctuated at first by stuttering, echoic beats, a shifting soundscape of disquiet. Ominous hums and swells of distant thunder provide the backdrop to disembodied, angelic voices low in the mix and veering between euphoric grace and the anguish of entrapment. Sonorous low-end booms out like a warning signal and cuts through the rising cacophony. But this is not a linear composition, there is no obvious trajectory: instead, the objective is the creation of atmosphere, and while it does naturally ebb and flow, peak and trough, the sustenance of tension is the priority here. Amidst slow crashes and waves of darkness emerge… nothing but nerve-tingling tensions, and even as the piece faded to silence, its hard to settle completely.

The studio side – again, consisting of a single track called ‘Stung’ which spans a full half an hour – provides more of the same, and with similar sonic fidelity at least on my speakers. Heaving drones like distant passing motorcycles drift in and out of range. Ghostly voices drift around nerve-chewing mid-range drones that shimmer and churn like foam on sand. On and on. Again, it doesn’t go anywhere, but that it’s the intention: it funnels and eddies to immersive effect. The tension builds not by any increments within the music, but by accumulation.

It’s a lights off, candle lit, eyes closed type of album, whereby there are no dominant features, and barely any features at all. In context, features are surplus to requirement: Drooping Finger & Möbius makes its presence known subtly, indirectly, creeping under the skin and weaving its dark magic subliminally.

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Drooping Finger   Mobius

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1st October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Velvet Teeth was originally released as a 200 only limited-edition CD through the October issue of TQ Magazine, which is the kind of publication that gives coverage to the likes of Ceramic Hobs and Drooping Finger – not so much competition for Aural Aggravation, but a channel with a shared goal of giving coverage to the kind of acts most won’t, assuming they’ve even heard of any of the artists. The funny thing about niche music is that it has a fairly hardcore set of devotees, and there’s a kind of disparate, disconnected community that’s less of a scene and more of a rhizome-like underground network. And while a lot of fairly niche stuff may still only have a potential market of around 200, it’s often amazing just how many oddballs there are hiding in the cracks demanding the work of some bands that on the surface seem so obscure that even their mates haven’t heard of them. Chlorine – the musical vehicle of Graeme Hopper – certainly has that wider appeal, and moreover, most certainly deserves wider exposure and the opportunity of a larger audience.

Velvet Teeth is experimental in the most explicit sense, a sequence of fragmentary sonic collages. The longer pieces roam around murky depths with ominous fear chords obscured by laced shrouds of sonic fog. ‘Manlines’, with its down-tuned, sinister vocals and groaning, droning dissonance, and ‘The Scenic Route’ exploit dimetric tonalities and the prominent separation of frequency ranges, with rumbling, almost subliminal low-end providing a base for niggling treble. The six-minute ‘Low Hauxley Tide’ pushes further on the resonant low-end pulsations, a low, tidal throb providing the main body of the piece. It’s kinda mellow, but kinda shiversome, too. There’s a creeping fog of darkness that pervades both the piece, and the work as a whole, which creates a certain sense of separation. It’s simultaneously immersive and engaging, but there’s a feeling that you’re not quite in the same room and there’s a force-field preventing entry.

‘Who Pays for This’ is a spine-tingling mess of scrapes and jangles, muffled, slowed speech that’s just on the cusp of indecipherability, and elsewhere, ‘Bubbewraps’ is woozy, wibbly, vaguely disorientating. The album as a whole is built on a loose, drifting fluidity, with compositions that aren’t so much compositions as sonic coalescences which occur as much by chance as design.

Uncomfortable, awkward, unsettling… these are the positive qualities of the oddity that is Velvet Teeth.

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Chlorine - Velvet

Christopher Nosnibor

Fibonacci Drone Organ: three random words spliced together, unshackled from the constraints of context to allow free association to determine interpretation? Or a descriptive indication of what Dave Procter’s second- or t(h)ird-latest (this month saw the debut of HUNDBAJS, which is Swedish for dogshit, the absolute latest) of his myriad projects which include the Wharf Street Galaxy Band and Legion of Swine? The cassette release contains precisely no information whatsoever, even down to a track listing, but a spot of digging reveals that it’s the latter – which should come as no surprise, given that the man behind FDO curated a ‘10 Hours of Drone’ event a while back. The album contains two pieces, each occupying a side of the tape, and they’re formed around droning organ notes. Long, long droning organ notes.

And my (rather limited but suitably fruitful) research uncovered that FDO ‘uses the Fibonacci Series as part of the compositional process,’ that ‘the notes are chosen via dice rolls and coin tosses,’ and that ‘the durations of the notes are chosen by the Fibonacci Series. Notes are added at the appropriate time.’

From this, I infer that in technical / theoretical terms, FDO compositions emerge from an intersection of John Cage-inspired randomness and the mathematical precision of Fibonacci. What this actually means, ‘m not entirely sure, and thankfully, the technical aspects don’t impinge too heavily on the output from a listening perspective. Ultimately, it’s all drones. And on this outing the ‘appropriate’ time for adding noes is seemingly after an eternity.

This means that across the tape’s duration, not a lot happens. Notes may be added, but at such distance that the layers build so gradually that the pieces are over before much depth, resonance or layering has occurred. This is all testament to Procter’s unswervingly uncompromising approach to music-making, and encapsulates the reasons I personally hold him in such high regard (and it’s fair to say that if there’s one person I’ve worked with who’s intuitively understood my vision for creating spoken word with the most hellishly mangled noise, it’s Dave who’s been behind the majority of my best and most exhilarating collaborative live work). With more projects, pseudonyms and releases to his credit than seems humanly possible, he’s practically a one-man underground scene in his own right. Look up ‘northern avant-garde’, and you’ll likely find a picture of Dave Procter – or a bloke in a lab coat sporting a pig’s head or something.

Procter gets art, and is an artist, but doesn’t espouse the pretentious trappings of being an ‘artist’ (or, worse still, an ‘artiste’). Which means he can not only get away with releasing a tape containing 40 minutes of theory-backed drone without appearing a tit, but delivers some of the most brilliantly self-aware electronic drone you’re likely to find.

Side two (not that the sides are marked) brings a quavering decay to the elongated drones – which hover toward the higher frequencies – by way of contrast to the strong, stable drones of side one. The effect is cumulative and ultimately soporific, and it’s definitely the music and not the beer as I listen to the spindles rotate on my tape deck and the notes drift from the speakers. Sometimes, there’s no shame in sleep.

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Gizeh Records – 23rd November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

In their biography, FOUDRE! are described as ‘a telluric drone quartet composed of Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempête, Le Réveil des Tropiques, The Rustle Of The Stars, FareWell Poetry), Romain Barbot (Saåad), Grégory Buffier (Saåad, Autrenoir) and Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf, Autrenoir, Extreme Precautions) who meet punctually for sessions of ritual improvisation where they invoke noise and drone and the deities of chaos.’

I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced by the punctual meetings given my years of experience dealing with musicians, but no matter: KAMI , the collective’s fourth album, was improvised and recorded live at Le Rex de Toulouse while supporting French doom metal band Monarch! at their tenth anniversary show.

The five compositions which comprise the forty-five minute set are expansive, as much is sonic breadth and depth as duration, and as such, extend in all directions as the players audibly feed off one another intuitively to create immense aural vistas which are every bit as enigmatic as the titles, all of which reference Shinto gods.

Opening with a twelve-minute epic that evolves from dark, low rumblings and sparse down-tuned scraping string-like drones, tremulous, haunting, and hesitant, to a simmering ripple of waves that forge a subtle but sustained crescendo, ‘Raijin’ very much evokes images and sensations worthy of a god of lightning, thunder, and storms. ‘Raijin’ indeed.

Disembodied voices rise wordlessly, ghostly and demonic, against a heartbeat-pulsing beat. It’s all about the atmosphere, and it’s all about the slow burn. And because the shifts are so gradual, so slight, the listener’s attention becomes focused on the detail, attenuated to the tonality and texture of the individual sounds.

‘Ame-no-Uzume’ inches toward a pulsating hybrid of ambience and chillwave, with the eerie motifs of ‘Tubular Bells’ twisting into a funnel of extraneous noise against a stammering beat, and the pieces all segue seamlessly into one another, with an elongated organ drone rising up on ‘Fujin’ (the Japanese god of the wind) before the final piece, ‘Hachiman’, opens with a heavy, head-crushing crescendo of discord. All hell breaks lose amidst feedback and screeds of extraneous noise as the volume intensifies and things get ugly. Unintelligible screams and barks, distorted and inhuman, tear the air across a clattering industrial beat and blistering electronics forging a whorl of sound in a brutal blast reminiscent of Prurient.

If ever the opening and conclusion of a set emerged leagues apart, KAMI carves a most extreme trajectory, taking the full duration of the set to build from a whisper to a terrifying scream. And it’s this arc that makes KAMI so accomplished and so exciting.

More often than not, live recordings leave the impression that something is missing, and that being distant from the actual event is to subtract from the experience. KAMI is different, in that the hi-fidelity recording means it doesn’t sound like a live album, and sitting back while the sound in all its detail emanates from the speakers affords the opportunity to take in those details, the layers, the textures, and to reflect in a way that the in-the-moment experience simply cannot allow. This highlights the differences of the way we as an audience receive and experience different media and modes of delivery; the in-the-moment intensity may offer catharsis, instant gratification, and a sense of immediate impact, but when there is this much to absorb, the distance and benefit of time to reflect and repeat is invaluable. And KAMI is a work to digest at leisure.

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FOUDRE! – KAMI 神

28th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Disjointed. Fragmentary. Fractured. Sketchy. Incomplete. The ten pieces (untitled other than by numbers 1-10) on Refound are vague in structure, minimal in form, non-linear in trajectory, and often unclear in purpose. Hardly surprising, given that they emerged from improvisational sessions made with electronics and ‘inside piano’. I’m not sure if this is becoming increasingly popular as an instrument of choice in avant-garde circles, or I’m simply evermore aware of its use in the making of experimental music since I received a copy of Reinhold Freidl’s immense Inside Piano double CD four years ago.

But what are they doing to the piano to achieve these sounds? Precisely what ‘inside piano’ actually is remains is shade unclear. The liner notes to Friedl’s debut solo which effectively set the mark for and so defined the technique, is spectacularly oblique and vague in its definition of ‘inside piano’: The good old grand piano plays aggressive noise attacks, choir-like symphonic movements, strange complex sound fibrillations, sometimes lighting up single prepared piano notes, juxtaposed with the tremendous bass of the nearly three-meter long strings…

For Refound, Neumann and Neilsen’s improvised experimentations were remixed and realigned by the two contributing artists themselves to create something… well something. I was tempted to say that conveyed their joint vision, although what that vision is, assuming there was a vision beyond seeing what their playing together produced, is unclear.

Refound manifests as a succession of tweets, hisses, rumbles… skittering, bird-like treble and yawning mid-tone feedback. There’s no discernible trajectory, the pieces break off and stand separately from one another as a series of sketches rather than as a coherent, cohesive album.

 

 

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Andrea Neumann Mads Emil Nielsen – Refound

Karl Records – 21st September 2018

James Wells

There’s nothing like an intriguing title, or one which ignites the imagination to generate interest in an album – or maybe it’s just me. And so the curious selection of the pairing of ‘runt’ with ‘vigor’ piqued my interest: the idea and image of a runt, smaller and weaker than nature intended, flailing feebly but energetically… Paired with the collage cover art, it all points toward something far-out – and I’m not mistaken or misled.

Now, I’m more accustomed and adjusted to music from the furthest, most extreme fringes, avant-gardism that redefines bizarre, inexplicable, outré. Chen is so outré that she’s bypassed me for all of 30 years, which includes a prodigious solo career punctuated by myriad collaborations that accounts for the last 15.

While much of her output is centred around cello, voice, and analogue electronics, vocal explorations have been at the heart of her most recent works including this four-track offering, which contains forty minutes of gulps, clicks, gargles and hums all emanating from the mouth and throat. Ululations and stuttering glottal stops create the very fabric of the compositions and occupy the foreground, along with asthmatic, gasping breaths, atonal, meandering whistles, and strangulation sounds.

While it’s more overtly ‘musical’ than Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice which stands by way of a relatively obvious comparison, it’s not less disturbing or strange, and it’s impossible to distinguish the origins of all of the sounds here; the whispering hums, drones and wavering gusts of wind are, I would assume, as likely to originate from the artist’s body as from an instrument. It’s the way in which everything is rendered obscure, the voice twisted, pushed, pulled, distorted and disfigured beyond all recognition from the conventional utterances of speech, song, or even flatulence, which is so awestriking.

You may hear albums which share the same sonic territory, but I’d wager none will have been created in the same way.

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Audrey Chan

Bearsuit Records – 20th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

The word ‘poets’ would seem to imply plural, but according to the accompanying text, The Moth Poets is the work of Edinburgh based musician, Billy Gilbert, who’s played in a few local indie bands and released a split LP with Japanese artist / musician Swamp Sounds, whose presence has graced this site on a previous Bearsuit release, as well as featuring in another Bearsuit-released act, Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai (AWSTS). Yes, once again, Bearsuit is the conduit for all of this uber-fringe creative activity from around the world, but mostly bringing Scotland and Japan together.

Doll is a magnificently idiosyncratic work which assimilates a broad range of styles and influences, and as a consequence, belongs nowhere specific or readily positionable. The eight compositions, in their titles and in their sound, convey a certain sci-fi undercurrent, infused with a twist of surrealism and plain abstraction.

‘A Hole in the Mothship’ starts the album with some spaced-out, opiate prog, a mellow, reverby instrumental which plods ponderously before trickling into the title track, where the drum machine kicks into overdrive and the soporific guitar mutates into a wildly meandering fizz of fuzz that sounds like J Mascis on a cocktail of acid and amphetamine. And this provides the backdrop for a vocal that sits somewhere between shoegaze and slacker, pitched low in the mix so as to render the lyrics indistinct. It doesn’t detract, and if anything, adds to the blurred, lo-fi layering that imbues the song with a hazy, dreamy quality.

As the title suggests, ‘Mothship Song’ is something of a companion to the opener, laying some echo-heavy guitar picking over a muffled heartbeat drum track and low, buzzing synth bass before going a different kind of strange, sort of like the into to ‘Frenz’ by The Fall, but with an oriental vibe and some synth stylings stolen from Stereolab.

‘Orange Peel Teeth’ goes grainy ambient with slanted analogue synth scrapes slipping through the rumbling atmospherics at skewed angles, and it’s this juxtaposition of tones and textures which provides Dolls with a much-needed sense of cohesion. Whether it’s prog, pop, or ambient – all performed with an experimental edge and an overt rejection of convention – Gilbert renders the pieces with an attention to less-obvious details that’s nothing if not distinctive.

All of the album’s disparate elements coalesce on the noodly, whacky weirdo wig-out of ‘Someone Put a Time Bomb in My Submarine’, the vintage drum machine sound – thudding bass, whip-crack treble top end snare – bounce it along nicely and keep things pinned to a groove that’s consistent and insistent. And because of this, however far-out The Moth Poets go, here’s always something to cling to. This is perhaps the key to keeping Doll on the right side of the line of (in)accessibility, and the reason it’s ultimately a success.

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The Moth Poets – Doll