Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Tenchpress’ bio reads ‘6-string guitar, 12-string guitar, keys (for doors, not the instrument), keys (the instrument, not for doors), concertina, trumpet, a friend’s electric bass, sturm, und drang, 1x LA Galaxy-branded drum stick, free soft synths, A Very Old Snare Drum.’ Which ultimately translates as rather wonky weird shit, judging by their forthcoming album, Tombmagic, released through Cruel Nature in September 5th.

As a taster, they’ve released a video for the track ‘Quaternions’, which bears the distinctive emerging style of Jason Kester.

Check it here:

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24th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are certain popular adages which are, frankly, and demonstrably, bollocks. The first is ‘if you can’t do, teach’. Admittedly, the state off education here in Britain means that academics at all levels are forced to teach outside their field with the scantest of time to prepare. I discovered this first-hand while working on a PhD thesis on William Burroughs and postmodernism and being tossed a semester’s teaching on Elizabethan literature. But moreover, most teachers wo get to teach in their specialist areas clearly can ‘do’ having attained a certain level of qualification. Can teachers of musical instruments also not ‘do’? Can diving instructors not drive?

And then there’s the popular notion that music reviewers are failed musicians. Perhaps the people who cast this aspersion should speak to Neil Tennant or more pertinently John Robb, Jim Irvin, and Sally Still. I might not point them in the direction of my own ongoing musical activities so much, but would highlight Oscar Quick, the man behind the ‘Needs More Cowbell’ site, where he posts considered reviews of new releases, who has recently turned in a handful of live shows and delivered the album Weaponised Soup.

In his bio, Quick explains how Weaponised Soup ‘features influences from disco, hip hop, rave and progressive rock, while remaining true to its core 80’s post punk sound. Dealing with Oscar’s experiences with insomnia, this record is a stream of consciousness during those many long nights, covering the extreme highs and destructive lows of staying awake for days at a time.’

As a lifelong insomniac, it’s relatable: the output happens because how else do you distract a fevered, restless brain that won’t let you rest? As you may guess, it’s not only a stylistic melting-pot, but also very much an album that jumps all over the place in a way which conveys the mania and erratic impulses that arise from protracted sleeplessness.

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Opener ‘I Should Sleep’ sounds like The Pixies, only staggering weary with fatigue and mumbling, slurred, and fugue-like. But if you’re looking for reference points, look no further than the title of ‘Assorted Psycho Candy’, which is, unexpectedly, a remarkably atmospheric, downtempo trip-hop / post-rock crossover that finds Quick picking through a medley off musings. ‘Over the Garden Wall’ is a contemplative wash of Cure-esque synths and packs more than its necessary share of cowbell.

Some songs are more successful than others: ‘Chrysanthemums’ is a weird, almost baggy slice of dance that twitches with paranoia and tension and switches into frenetic territory around the mid-point, but the sub-Goldie Lookin’ Chain white rapping takes some absorption., and the New Order-esque ‘Respect for Dinner Ladies’ brings more Sprechgesang and even straight spoken vocals that likely sit in the Yard Act bracket, and in its simmering tension and up-front awkwardness, by accident or design, Weaponised Soup seems to capture the post-pandemic zeitgeist.

Something clearly changed during lockdown: artists are now talking openly about mental challenges and neurodiversity, and embracing these experiences creatively, and this is reflected in a new wave of music that refuses to be bound by genre, as Andre Rikichi’s wonderfully weird exploratory stylistic explosion on which I wrote only yesterday exemplifies.

As we continue to crawl from under the psychological rubble of the pandemic and successive lockdowns, into a new world that’s not brave, but fearful, tremulous, and ultimately fucked-up and swinging ever further to the right, these are truly terrible times – but as history shows, terrible times tend to spur the creation of great music. With Weaponised Soup, Oscar Quick forges a small but unique space in that fucked-up world, and it’s very much a good thing.

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Bearsuit Records – 31st August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I may have mentioned it before, but I always get a buzz when I see a jiffy marked with an Edinburgh post stamp land on my doormat mat and I realise it’s the latest offering from Bearsuit records. Because while whatever music it contains is assured to be leftfield and at least a six on the weirdness spectrum, I never really know what to expect. That lack of predictability is genuinely exciting. Labels – especially micro labels which cater to a super-niche audience tend to very much know their market, and while that’s clearly true of Bearsuit, they’re willing to test their base’s boundaries in ways many others don’t dare.

Andrei Rikichi’s Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is most definitely an album that belongs on Bearsuit. It doesn’t know what it is, because it’s everything all at once: glitchy beats, bubbling electronica, frothy screeds of analogue extranea, mangled samples and twisted loops and all kinds of noise. As the majority of the pieces – all instrumental – are less than a couple of minutes long, none of them has time to settle or present any sense of a structure: these are fragmentary experimental pieces that conjure fleeting images and flashbacks, real or imagined.

‘They Don’t See the Maelstrom’ is a blast of orchestral bombast and fucked-up fractured noise that calls to mind JG Thirlwell’s more cinematic works, and the same is true of the bombastic ‘This is Where it Started’, a riot of rumbling thunder and eye-poppingly audacious orchestral strikes. Its counterpart and companion piece, ‘This is Where it Ends’ which closes the album is expensive and cinematic, and also strange in its operatic leanings – whether or not it’s a human voice is simply a manipulation is immaterial at a time when AI—generated art is quite simply all over, and you begin to wonder just how possible is it to distinguish reality from that which has been generated, created artificially.

Meanwhile ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’ is overtly strange, a kind of proto-industrial collage piece. ‘What Happened to Whitey Wallace’ is a brief blast of churning cement-mixer noise that churns at both the gut and the cerebellum. Listening, you feel dazed, and disorientated, unsettled in the stomach and bewildered in the brain. There is simply so much going on, keeping up to speed with it all is difficult. That’s no criticism: the audience should never dictate the art, and it’s not for the artist to dumb things down to the listeners’ pace, but for the listener to catch up, absorb, and assimilate.

‘Player Name: The Syracuse Apostle’ slings together some ominous atmospherics, a swampy dance beat and some off-kilter eastern vibes for maximum bewilderment, and you wonder what this record will throw at you next.

In many respects, it feels like a contemporary take on the audio cut-up experiments conducted by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the late 50s and early 60s, and the titles only seem to further correspond with this apparent assimilation of thee random. I suppose in an extension of that embracing of extranea, the album also continues the work of those early adopters of sampling and tape looping from that incredibly fertile and exciting period from the late 70s to the mid-80s as exemplified by the work of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept, Foetus. These artists broke boundaries with the realisation that all sound is material, and that music is in the ear of the beholder. This strain of postmodernism / avant-gardism also follows the thread of Surrealism, where we’re tasked with facing the strange and reconciling the outer strange with the far stranger within. Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is an album of ideas, a pulsating riot of different concepts and, by design in its inspiration of different groups and ideas, it becomes something for the listener to unravel, to interpret, to project meaning upon.

Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness leaves you feeling addled and in a spin. It’s uncanny because it’s familiar, but it isn’t, as the different elements and layers intersect. It’s the sonic representation of the way in which life and perception differ as they collide.

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gk. rec. – 13th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Since taking control of his own release schedule – in addition to various releases via various labels – Gintas K’s output has shifted from rivulets to cascades, with this nature-themed album being just one among countless releases, live performances, exhibitions. soundtrack and compilation appearances so far this year, and, not least of all, Lėti in May, released on venerable experimental label Crónica.

There’s little explanation behind Mountains, runlets, caves & cascades, beyond a selection of quotes from HP Lovecraft and the detail that the album’s six pieces were ‘played, recorded live, at once without any overdub; using computer, midi keyboard & controller’ in 2020, and one suspects Gintas has a hard drive bursting with such recordings just waiting to be edited and mastered to form unified documents of his tireless output.

The first five pieces form the larger work that sits under the album’s overarching title, numbered one to five. They’re sparse, minimal, echo-heavy, like wandering around in a vast cavern while droplets fall into the subterranean lake that occupies the bottom, and who knows how deep it may be, how many tunnels are filled with millions of gallons of water that have run down through the ground and into this naturally-carved warren of rock-lined corridors beneath the ground.

In places, barely perceptible glimmers of sound, like bat sonar, jangle in the upper reaches of the audio spectrum. I’m reminded of the cat repellent device in my back yard, and I wonder if to some, these passages would actually appear as silence – or if for others, like my ten-year-old daughter, they would find the pitch unbearable and have to run from the room covering their ears. Quiet gurgles and trickles are the primary sounds on ‘Mountains, runlets, caves & cascades #3’ and I find myself feeling altogether calmer, picturing myself in a pine woodland with steep banks. I picture in my mind’s eye local scenery like Aysgarth Falls and Ingleton Falls and find myself at ease – but this being Gintas K, there’s disruption afoot, and blips and squelches zap in seemingly at random to remind us that this is digital art, and the fourteen-minute ‘#4’ marks the full transition into digital froth and sluices of laptop-generated foam.

And so it trickles into ‘#5’ which brings more bleeps and blips and jangling and some high-pitched rattling that for some reason makes me think of seeing footage of milk bottling plants in the 80s – back when milk came in glass bottles, and I trip on this trajectory of nostalgic reverie until the arrival oof the unsettling final track, the eight-minute ‘eastern bells’ that’s a slowed-down yawn of sound, metallic reverberations ringing out into the silence, echoing in the dark emptiness in ebbs and flows, like a conglomeration of sounds, drifting in a breeze.

Mountains, runlets, caves & cascades is a supremely abstract work, and while it’s not a huge departure for Gintas K, it does represent one of his softer, gentler, sparser and less frenetic works. It’s by no means an album to mediate to. But it is overall fairly sedate, and it not only allows, but encourages a certain quiet reflection.

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Expert Sleepers – 25th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Fallout 4 is, as the title suggests, the fourth album in Darkroom’s Fallout trilogy.

Darkroom have been going for more than twenty years now, and have built up an extensive catalogue centred around fluid ambient work, which they’re keen to point out ‘stretches the definition of the genre to its limits in many directions: from quiet, introspective and naturalistic through celestial and melodic to intense, abrasive and synthetic.’

In presenting three longform compositions, Fallout 4 affords the collective to fully explore all of these elements.

As the accompanying notes explain, ‘Darkroom’s music has always been played not programmed, with a focus on human interaction and capturing the magic of live performance’, and the first two pieces hark back to the last performance of their 2012 tour. ‘It’s Clear from the Air’ is hypnotic, rippling, mesmerising, low, undulating drones providing a subtle low end to the textured interweaving synths that overlay subtle yet complex rhythms.

It bleeds into the twenty-five minute ‘Qaanaak (Parts 1 & 2)’ and immediately the tone is darker, denser, with a grumbling low and needling pulsations that create tension within the suffocatingly thick, beatless smoggy atmosphere. You find yourself lost, in suspension, somewhat bewildered as the tones twist and change. Electronic flares whip and lash as stuttering beats emerge through the relentlessly nagging pulsations, and continue to shift and mutate to a broiling, bubbling larva as booming bass tones surge and swell. The rhythm grows in urgency, but it’s muffled, constrained, which heightens the experience of a sense of airlessness and entrapment and as much as the throbbing oscillations are indebted to Can and Tangerine Dream, their abrasive edge hints at the uneasy, wheezing synth grind of Suicide.

The third piece, ‘Tuesday’s Ghost’ is perhaps the most conventionally ambient’ of the three, and is certainly the most overtly ‘background’ as is swims and floats and chimes along fuzzy lines of slow decay and loose, vague forms that have no shape, rise and fall. There is a discreet linearity to it, as it gradually, and subtly builds in depth and density, and it’s here that it become clear just how essential that human element is to Darkroom’s work – that sense of musicians bouncing off one another and understanding one another through intuition. There is no substitute for it, and you simply can’t programme the dynamics of form. It’s this intuitive, natural fluidity that breathes life into the compositions, and in turn, it’s this sense of life that the listener connects to and engages with. Fallout 4 may be ambient at heart or by genre… but it’s also far beyond the frontier of ambient.

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Lo Bit Landscapes – 7th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Life has felt somewhat relentless of late. I do mean this on a personal level, although this is perhaps as much a result off external factors as anything else. The pandemic turned me into an addict. An addict of 24/7 steaming news, of doomscrolling, of relentless checking of social media. When things are constantly happening constantly evolving, it’s easy to find yourself dragged into the whirlwind, and ultimately to depend on the maelstrom. Silence becomes scary. You’re overwhelmed by the volume of emails, texts, FaceBook messages and WhatsApps and find yourself begging for them to stop, but when they do, you panic that something is wrong, that there’s something more sinister afoot, something isn’t working, or that perhaps you’ve died and haven’t realised.

Lately, there’s been a tidal wave of music that’s been created as a reaction to life in lockdown, to social tension, to the mental health pressures of contemporary living. And I’ve been lapping it up, I’ve been loving it. Because people are bringing issues out into the open, and speaking in their own voice about the difficulties we’ve all been facing, relaying those relatable traumas. But I’ve started to feel more like a silent counsellor rather than a music critic. It’s a truism that a problem shared is a problem halved, unless you’re the recipient of all of the sharing. Sometimes, you need a break. Sometimes, you need to let all the tension go, and to simply float.

Nihiti’s Sustained is the perfect antidote to all the tension. It consists of three slow-moving ambient works, extensive in their duration. The shortest, ‘Tetrachrome’ is almost ten minutes long, and it opens with the immense, twenty-one-and-a-half-minute soft soundscape of ‘Stellar Observer’. I sit back by candlelight and close my eyes, and feel my jaw slowly unclench, and my shoulder blades gradually begin to loosen. It’s soporific, deep ambience that washes over you and with washing waves of sound and soft, elongated mollifies drones that drift like vapour. It isn’t without turbulence, but said distortion and treble waves crash a way in the distance and charge against a backdrop of slow undulations. The broad, textured sounds are indeed sustained, for what feels like eternities, and the yawn that swells in my jaws is one of relaxation rather than boredom.

There are glitches and switches in ‘If the Colour’ that disturb the flow, and you almost feel yourself tripping momentarily, like a sleep twitch, but things soon right themselves again, and you resume your calmness, despite scratchy samples and moments of dissonance, because in the overall sensory experience, Sustained is slow and gentle.

Breathe it in, absorb the vapours. Ignore the distant voices as they whisper and echo, and assume they mean no harm, despite the darkening sky toward the end. Let it simply hang in the air: sit back, turn down the lights, and tune in to your inner voice instead of the inaudible mutters. Trust your instruct. Trust the space. Absorb the calm.

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On leaving the seminal is supremely underground Third Door From The Left in 1981, which emerged from the early Industrial scene as represented by Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, Canadian Kevin Thorne began recording as We Be Echo, before halting abruptly in the mid-80s. After some time out, and some time spent working as LivingWithanAngel, Thorne resurrected We Be Echo, since when there’s been no looking back.

The pandemic proved to be a fertile time for Thorne, knocking out three albums and an EP in 2021. 2022 got off to a strong start with E-volution. With another album in the pipeline, John Wisniewski was fortunate to get some time to pitch some questions to Kevin Thorne about his remarkable recent output and reflect on his extensive catalogue and 40+ year career.

JW: What is it like recording your latest We Be Echo 2022 release, No Truth, No Lie? You have been recording for about 40 years now. What has kept you going?

KT: I sold off all my gear in England (in the early 90’s I believe, as my last release was ‘I Dance In Circles’ on LiveEvil’s A Conclusion Of Unrestrained Philosophy compilation CD in 1989), and stopped doing anything musically. It was a dark time for me. In 1998 I moved to Canada, and once settled I started experimenting with music again, this time digitally. It wasn’t until the pandemic started and I bought a bass guitar that I did so in earnest. Music flowed out of me almost faster than I could get it recorded. I released Darkness Is Home, The Misanthrope and Isolation in 2021, followed by E-volution in 2022. I’m over halfway through my second album this year, No Truth, No Lie, which has a somewhat different feel to it than the previous releases, and I’m immensely proud of the tracks on it so far. I have several other tracks recorded and finished that I feel are good but just don’t make the cut for this album.

I record because I enjoy it. Especially this past two years, when it’s been my therapy. Since Gen dropped her body, it’s also been my way to keep communication open. When a track comes together particularly well I feel Gen’s presence. I still get a thrill producing a song that I love, and I will continue recording until that stops.

After I release a new album I tend to go through a mini depression. Because I love the album so much, and out so much into it, when I release it into the world and it gets virtually no response, it is upsetting. But after a couple of weeks, I get the urge to record again.

Any trends that you have seen come and go?

I’m not a trend watcher.

Where do you find inspiration to compose?

I think that the way I create music is quite unusual in that I don’t know where the song will take me, I have almost no control in the matter. It evolves from a bass and drum beginning (occasionally guitar and drum), then goes where it wants to, it feels like it has almost nothing to do with me. If I try to create something in a particular way, it generally moves itself the way it wants to. I still work full time, so I mostly record on weekends. I get up around 8am, go grab breakfast then relax for a bit and if I feel like it I go into the studio and record. Often nothing happens, occasionally a track comes together really fast. Sometimes it takes a few listens before I can appreciate what it could become. I usually record drums/bass (often several tracks of bass), then listen to that and wait for the lyrics to arrive… sometimes that’s easy and sometimes not. Then I flesh it out with more guitar or bass. I record the vocals in the basement when I’m alone (I’m still stupidly shy about singing), Listening to the track on an old iPhone with headphones while using my iPhone to record. On two of the songs on the upcoming album I started with lyric thoughts and recorded using them – the lyrics and vocals were recorded in one take with no editing, giving it a more “live” feel.

Any favorite electronic and industrial music artists?

Major Influences are TG, PTV, Cabs, but I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Not much electronic or industrial these days though.

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You worked with Raye Coluori in your early days. What was that like?

Raye was great to create with, and we still chat and record on occasion. I was sick with Covid when he was in Toronto recently so missed out on a physical catch-up which was upsetting.

Recording with TDFTL was fun, our music was created in a similar way to we be echo, we started with drum and bass (me), and Raye (guitar or keyboard) and often some pre-recorded speech, then built it up from there. We recorded everything in case something worked. I think Raye still has the rehearsal tapes. I have one somewhere. His confidence really helped me boost mine. We played two binaurally recorded gigs, that we released on tape. For one track on our “Face The Firing Squad” cassette, we used a drum track sent to me by Mal (Cabs), and made good use of the Roland Chorus Space Echo I bought from TG’s Chris Carter. I still feel this album stands up, even after 40 years!

We have recorded and released one track together since I moved to Canada, and hope to do more, always seems I’m busy when he’s not and vice versa.

Later you recorded Ceva Evi. What was that experience like?

Recording on my own meant I could record what I wanted when I wanted which was very freeing. I loved the idea of using Gen’s Tibetan Thighbone trumpet on a track but couldn’t get it organized for the regular edition release, however Dave Farmer (iham) sorted it out for the special edition and he and Gen both play on the track ‘Inside Life’s Wire’.

Any future plans and projects?

I recorded a track with Iham that he will be releasing as a 12” single, and we are working on a new track now. The music we record leans more toward industrial than mine does.

I just finished a collab as Dream Duchess with Marcy Angeles that’s available on her bandcamp. I also sent out bass and drum stems of a track to a few people to see what they would do with it and have had some pretty amazing responses, but not enough to make it a release yet.

I’m also working, when time permits, on another album of old music (“Forgotten Beats”) that hasn’t seen a release yet, or was released in a very obscure manner originally.

Is there anyone that you would really like to collaborate with?

I’m open to collabs. There are many people it would be an honour to work with.

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Front & Follow and the Gated Canal Community – 5th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s so much to love about Front & Follow and the Gated Canal Community, and I’m absolutely not mocking when I say that Front & Follow have called it a day as a label almost as many times as Status Quo have announced farewell tours, because I deeply admire the fact that label head Justin Watson simply cannot resist a good project, and always returns after every break with a new release beyond bursting with great new music. This leads me to the next reason to love the label: every project that brings the label out of mothballs is for a worthy cause, and to see a label channel its energy into raising funds for charitable causes (without being preachy or holly about it) is truly heart-warming and goes a long way to remining us that human nature is, by and large, giving, and that it’s just the current government and the selfish / stupid anuses who keep voting for them who don’t give a fuck about anyone else. And then there’s the fact that – as previously mentioned – each release contains great new music, and the fact is that Front & Follow’s commitment to providing an outlet to lesser-known acts, including many who’ve not been previously releases, is unstinting. Just as it’s hard to find venues who will give gigs to bands who have yet to play and establish a fanbase, so it’s hard for those same acts to find an outlet other than doing it themselves on Bandcamp and Spotify, with their work being completely buried and diving under all radars in the process.

And so, here we have the first instalment of Rental Yields, a ‘multi-release collaboration project raising money to tackle homelessness in Manchester’. As the press notes explain, ‘Inspired by our current housing system, the project encourages artists to steal (or borrow, nicely) from another artist to create their own new track – in the process producing HIGH RENTAL YIELDS… Over 100 artists are now involved (the spreadsheet is fun), each one tasked with creating a new track from the sounds created by someone else – we are then collating the tracks and releasing them over the course of the next year.’

This is Volume One, and contains twenty tracks, ‘featuring the likes of Polypores, Elizabeth Joan Kelly, The Leaf Library, yellow6, Spaceship and more’, and it’s a cracker. This is no surprise on the basis of the label’s track record, of course. Most of the artists are super-obscure: Solomon Tump, The Incidental Crack, and yol are about the limit of my a priori knowledge, and that’s good: it means the collection is about the music rather than the artists, and people should be interested because it’s good, not because it has some shitty remix of acoustic version of a mediocre name band. It’s good because it’s good. And weird.

And there is nothing mediocre about this. It is a big compilation that showcases the exploratory, the experimental, the oscillating, the avant-garde. Dig, it, and dig it deep.

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Century Media – 22nd July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

New York’s enigmatic Imperial Triumphant are described as ‘avant-garde metal’. They’re certainly that. I mean, they’re overtly metal, with guttural, growling vocals, barrelling riffs, thunderous drums and booming bass – but Spirit of Ecstasy is a brain-lowling, bewildering affair that lumbers, lurches, and leaps between other genres within those solid metal parameters.

The tracks are all past the six-minute mark, and pack in a lot of action and a lot of range, to the extent that six minutes in, it’ll feel like the first three minutes were another song entirely. At least, that’s my experience – of an album that’s so expansive and diverse that it completely takes over. You stop following, and find yourself simply being transported on a journey with no clear trajectory, thrown this way and that, tossed about as if by turbulence, or something more.

Following the blistering percussive battering and jolting, sliding sonic deluge of the album’s opener, ‘Chump Change’, ‘Metrovertigo’ is exemplary: it slides into angular industrial discord, and there’s a lot going on – mostly jazz-leaning, but then there’s the megalithic bombast of the song’s climax which is more neoclassical, and ‘Tower of Glory, City of Shame’ also incorporates bold neoclassical elements along with samples and jarring, skewed guitar along with the demonic snarling.

When they go all-out on the riffage, the density is eye-popping, rib-cracking, skull-crushing. When they go the other way, into orchestral territories, as in during the into on ‘Merkurius Gilded’, it’s sweet, sublime. Of course, those delicate segments are obliterated in the blink of an eye in swathes of immolating black metal. And then, there’s the all-out experimental jazz / noise no-wave racket of ‘In the Pleasure of their Company’ that really does drill And lurch, showcasing the duo’s capacity to explore different sound and textures.

It’s not exactly technical in its musicality – although there’s no shortage of technical ability on display here – but compositionally, Spirit Of Ecstasy is something else. Each song condenses so many ideas, so many segments into a single piece that it’s utterly bewildering at times.

The most remarkable achievement is that it doesn’t sound forced or false or corny, when by rights, none of this should work and it should be awful. But it isn’t. It is, however, intense, and draining so. You’re tossed this way and that, samples crackle in the distance, and quiet passages are disrupted by detonating drums and squalls of noise.

Everything spews from the satanic caverns of hell, and leaves you feeling worn out, battered, beaten. And buzzing.

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ROOM40 – June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I feel like I’ m forever playing catchup. The simple fact is, there are more new releases – and remarkably good ones at that – than there are hours in the day to listen to them all. I can’t bee the only one who sees friends on FaceBook posting about how they’re loving the new album by X, Y. and Z, and who gets asked if they’ve head / what they think to this, that, or the other and wonder ‘how the hell do you actually listen to all this?’ These people must listen to music 24/7 and possess three pairs of ears by which to listen to all of this music simultaneously, or something.

Admittedly, it doesn’t help that my dayjob doesn’t really afford much opportunity for listening while I work, so I really only have a spell while cooking dinner, and evening, which, after everything else, tend to start around 10pm.

And so, presented with anything up to thirty new releases a day in my inbox, I simply can’t listen to everything, and I deeply envy those who can, and seemingly do.

One particular source of guilt, for wont of a better word, is my inability to keep up with ROOM40 releases. They may only be number three or four a months, but they’re invariably interesting, exploratory, intriguing. And tend to warrant for more detailed analysis than I can reasonably offer. Hence a summarising catch-up for the label’s June releases, on the day July’s have just landed with me.

Alberto Boccardi’s Petra (released on tape) is a comparatively short album of intense electronic drones: consisting of just five tracks spanning around thirty-two minutes, is sparse, ominous, sonorous, predominantly mid-range but with some stealthy bass and sonorous, trilling organs. Recorded over several years and partly inspired and assembled while Boccardi was resident in Cairo, it’s both chilling and soporific, it’s an intriguing minimal work.

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Blue Waves, Green Waves by Alexandra Spence isn’t receiving a physical release, and is an altogether different proposition. As the tile suggests, the ocean provides the primary inspiration, and sure enough, it begins with the sound of crashing waves, but this soon recedes to the background, while analogue organ sounds ebb and flow as the backdrop to low-key spoken word pieces. Noters drip and drop and hover in suspension like droplets of water hanging from leaves before their inevitable yielding to gravity, sliding off and into a puddle. ‘Air Pockets’ sloshes and sploshes, reverberating against empty plastic pipes. The flatness of sound and the shifting of tones as they bubble and sploosh is the aural equivalent of close reading, interrogating a source to microcosmic levels.

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‘All intensive purposes’ is one of those (many) misspeaks that drive me fucking crackers. And this release by there inexplicably—monikered ‘Pinkcourtesyphone’ is an album likely to frustrate and bend the brain, albeit for different reasons. With the exception of the final mid-album interlude, ‘Out of an Abundance’, these are darkly mellifluous drones that stretch well beyond the five-minute mark, and ebb and flow slowly amidst rumbles and reverberating snippets of conversation and radio. The mood is tense, unsettling; not creepy, so much as just uncomfortable, spine-tingling, ominous, and at times, other-wordly.

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Some will likely find something in one or another of these, while others will doubtless find all three of these releases to be of interest and collectively, they do very much provide a broad, wide-ranging view of matters experimental and ambient, presenting different perspectives of found sound and field recording. It’s credit to ROOM40 for giving space to these artists, and showcasing such a range of music from within what may, on the surface, appear a narrow field, and demonstrating otherwise.