Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Neurot Recordings – 15th March 2019

James Wells

They probably started off with perfect hearing, but a couple of sessions rehearsing this cacophonous melange at infinite decibels would soon put paid to that. Monastic chorals meet Sunn O))) with the wordless vocal drones that build sinister spirituals that echo into eternity on ‘Vox Dei’, the opening piece on the colossal noise fest that is Metaprogramação by Brazilian act Deafkids. And then all hell breaks loose: ‘Alucinações de Comando’ is a blizzard of lasers, manic percussion, and messed-up vocals echoed to infinity. The overall result comes on like listening to Whitehouse duetting with Dr Mix from across the street.

Metaprogramação is an insane work. Seriously: where are their heads at? Thrumming bass bounces around on the dubby, experimental electro-ish ‘Pacto de Màscaras’, while ‘Mente Bicamerel’ packs a dirty, amped-up groove as it pounds away at a single riff motif – albeit with the occasional chord omission – for what feels like a very long time, but is actually only four and a half minutes. This isn’t to say it’s arduous, but recognises the rewards of repetition.

All of the aforementioned come together on ‘Templo de Caos’, a frenetically drum-driven riot of echoed vocals, grating bottom-end and stun guitars, while ‘Raíz Negativa (Não-Vontade)’ is a mess of murk, with everything as muddy as hell, and even more oppressive as they crank out a repetitive cyclical chord sequence on bass and guitar, while the vocals are more or less lost in the fog. Then again, ‘Vírus da Imagem do Ser’ goes full-on thrash, a hypercharges blur of crusty grind.

Ending in a short, sharp blast of white noise, there isn’t a moment to breathe here. I’ve no idea what the fuck it’s about, but it’s a sonic blitzkrieg that’s nothing like anything else going.

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Deafkids – Metaprogramação

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Rocket Recordings – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Evolution – that’s perhaps the only word when considering Teeth Of The Sea. Their career is defined by it.

Their BandCamp biography gives some sense of context: ‘Since their formation in 2006, London-based Teeth Of The Sea have metamorphosized into the most adventurous psychedelic rock outfit in the UK. Taking on board influences like Morricone, Eno, Delia Derbyshire, Goblin, and the Butthole Surfers, they’ve arrived at an incendiary sound that marries the aural enlightenment of an avant-garde sensibility with the reckless abandon of trashy rock & roll.’

It was with Your Mercury that I joined the trip, sold instantly by ‘The Ambassador’ with its overloading noise intro, spiralling into a slow-paced desert rock weird out.

Each release has been different again, and so there’s nothing of that ilk to be found on Wraith, an album that’s slanted more toward the electronic end of the spectrum, although the guitars, while far from prominent, are very much integral to the texture and depth. But this being Teeth of the Sea, it’s a bit of everything all at once, and this is apparent from the very first track: ‘I’d Rather, Jack’ brings a sonorous bass and droning synth together over a thumping industrial disco beat with crashing snare that stutters and glitches all over, before jazz trumpet and a space-rock guitar fire off on different trajectories. It’s rare for such a maelstrom of ideas and forms to whip together into anything other than a horrible mess, but Teeth of the Sea manage to blend the ingredients into something far greater than the sum of the parts, the atmosphere shifting from oppressive to uplifting.

There’s some of the old Ennio Morricone vibe about the spaghetti western sunset guitar twang of ‘Hiraeth’, before snaking drums and twisted allusions to Asian musical motifs was in and out of expansive layers of brass on ‘Burn of the Shieling’.

There are hints of Tangerine Dream and expansive synthy electronica about compositions like the buoyant, spacey, retro-futurist ‘VISITOR’ and ‘Gladiators Ready’, which combines the tweeky, bleepy Roland sound that echoes Josh Wink’s remixed ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ with some gritty guitar noise off in the background. Equally, the forms belong equally to post-rock, and whereas peers Vessels have gone all-out techno and ditched any vestiges of their origins, TOTS succeed in creating the most dazzling hybrid, discarding nothing and instead assimilating an ever-widening range of elements into their work. There’s so much detail in every bar, from blurred, muttering voices buried in the mix to synth incidentals and shifting reverbs that it’s impossible to take it all in, and oftentimes, Wraith is an overwhelming experience.

The centrepiece of ‘Her Wraith’ and brief counterpart ‘Wraiths in the Wall’ explore more minimalist approaches, the forms vague and vaporous, as echoing piano notes hang in the air over mournful trumpet. Pulling back on the prominent beats and instead allowing ponderous strolling basslines to wander to the fore, they’re as intangible as the album’s title suggests.

An album this eclectic and uncategorizable rarely feels cohesive, but Wraith feels more like a psychotic mind-journey than an album. And it’s nothing short of epic.

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Teeth of the Sea - Wraith

Panurus Productions – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

It promises ‘a voyeuristic excursion through the concrete labyrinth of Greater Manchester. A collage of the constantly evolving sensory barrage of the big city and it’s accompanying paranoia. The infinite possibilities of an adopted home and the entangled memories of the intrepid listener.’ It’s also pitched as a ‘prequel’ to Absolution – by which I’m assuming that the August – December 2017 recording of Burden predates that of Absolution, released in March last year.

It matters little. Chronology is a construct. While an individual’s actions may follow a simple chronology, events overall do not: things happen simultaneously, and in different locations. Those lines of time and location are distorted by real-time communication by such means as telephone and television, which can temporarily connect different time-zones and countries, even bridging periods of history. Letters, on the other hand, have an effective time delay. The idea that events can be charted by means of a simple chronological timeline is further discredited when thoughts and recollections, as well as dreams, can occur completely at random and in a fragmentary manner.

Supposedly combining ‘snippets of conversation and field recordings [filtered] through Kepier Widow’s digital ear’ and combined ‘with droning synth and bubbling glitches’, the two messy, disorientating, half-hour sound-collages (corresponding with the two sides of a C60 cassette) pay no heed to chronology or sequentiality. This, of course, is the beauty of the medium, in that it is non-linear, articulating instead the simultaneity of experience. And while it’s impossible to extract any semblance of narrative or even cohesion from the jumble of chatter, birdsong, car engines, grinding synths and wispy mists of ambient abstraction, often overlapping into one another, and occasionally all at once, Burden replicates – in a warped but intensely immersive way – the experience of traversing a large city. It’s loud, a collision of sound, uncoordinated, discordant, disorientating.

Some of the electronic intrusions penetrate with some pretty harsh noise. There are unsettling, hums and drones, and glitchy ruptures kink the flow of any attempts to create smoother, more linear flows. Sonorous, undulating ripples of sound weave in and out. There is no structure. There doesn’t need to be – nor should there be. Everything simply ‘happens’. And this is life.

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Protagoniste

I love unusual instrumentation, and am often amused and entertained by the repurposing of non-musical items and objects for music-making purposes. The stranger and more overtly non-musical, the better, of course. But do we really believe the credits on Ilex, which sees Xavier Charles and Jacques Di Donato (whose 12 Clarinets in a Fridge I covered somewhere at the time of release) reunited for a follow-up to 1995’s Du slavon glagol listed as playing ‘clarinet, helicopter’ and ‘clarinet, lawn mower’ respectively? I wouldn’t like to completely rule it out: although there are no obliterative motorised walls of noise blasting away the speakers at any point on Ilex, there’s a lot of distant drones, hums and extraneous noise in the background on a number of the album’s fourteen pieces.

Born out of improvisation and subsequently evolved, each piece is different, if not entirely distinct, as the pieces often bleed together or are otherwise tightly packed. The lengths of the pieces vary considerably, too, from fragmentary, sub-two-minute interludes to complex, expansive compositions more than three times that. Collectively, they form a body of work which his often evasive in its ever-shifting form. In terms of mood or style, Ilex is neither one thing or another: it’s not even categorizable as experimental, really, slipping as it does from abstract to ambient to parping free jazz – although thankfully, there’s not of much of the latter.

From hesitant, clattering percussive sounds, resembling tabla or similar small hand drums to sighing drones, it’s often difficult to relate the sounds to the clarinet, or, in some instances, any instrument at all.

Ilex is, however, without question, abrim with clarinets. It pours, oozes and froths with a wash of clarinets. Clarinets that alternately trill and toots like The Clangers on a veritable cocktail of drugs, zipping from wired hyperactivity to opiate-slowed torpor. Often resembling strings rather than woodwind, elongated, woozy hums and drones abound, ominous hovering notes and scrapes and shards, whistles and tweets of feedback-like treble grate against one another, the resonances creating a subtle tension.

On Ilex, the performers push not only the parameters of their instrument of choice, but also their playing, combining a mix of conventional and innovative techniques to create something that balances the familiar and the strange. It’s this juxtaposition that ultimately renders Ilex not only a most interesting work, but an artistic success.

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Ilex

Drid Machine Records – 7th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Fuck me. I was trying to remember what I’d thought of the previous eponymous Golden Oriole album, when I read the accompanying press release, which reminded me. Is it an ego thing? Perhaps. But there are times when music reviewing is a pretty thankless task, so to see your own words quoted provides a certain sense of validation. Admittedly, when this happens to me – and it does with moderate frequency and regularity – I find myself staring at the words and wondering if I rally wrote them. They sort of look like something I’d write… But better. Life’s too short to be precious about your words, and there’s just too much new music flying round to labour for a lifetime on every review.

Norwegian experimental duo Golden Oriole – consisting of Thore Warland, Kristoffer Riis – know how to augment a hard-hitting sonic attack. And II continues the trajectory of its predecessor, with some thumping beats and a chaos of discord all around. II contains just two pieces, occupying a side of vinyl / cassette apiece, and given this much room to explore, they really do head every which way.

After an epic – and I mean truly epic – thrashing funk-driven workout that bumps and grinds an grooves and bounces on for about a quarter of an hour, ‘The Waxwing Slain’ crunches to a halt and leaves a painful trail of feedback, holding a single torturous note for a number of agonising, excruciating minutes. The fact I actively enjoy those minutes may indicate a hint of a masochistic streak, and I’ll live with that: the point is that the duo never bow to expectation or even soften toward accommodating any prospective audience’s listening tolerances. It’s the very definition of uncompromising. It’s the apex of angular. If brutal funk sounds like an oxymoron, then you need to get your lugs bent by this demented shit.

‘Až Přijde Kocour’ plunges even deeper – miles deeper – into a frenetic explosion of scratchy, scribbled guitars and spasmodic bass against a tumult of percussion. Just when you feel like your head might explode, they bring everything right down around the four-minute mark…. The quiet strains of distant feedback provide but a brief respite before the sonic mania of Beefheart on all the drugs ever made

The passage that almost contains a strolling bass doesn’t really contain a strolling bass, as much as a bass that tries to stay nonchalant, but can’t help but twitch and spasm like it has a wet finger in a live socket: it sounds like three songs at once as those squelchy low frequencies bounce beneath a rippling sonorous drone while the drums hammer out a rhythm somewhere between drum ‘n’ bass and a military march. It’s :

Of brain-pulping brilliance.

You can’t dance to this. You can’t even not knowingly. In fact, I’ve no real clue what a rational or sane response to this is. Truth is, I don’t even know what this is, other than that it’s deranged, loud, chaotic. If it’s one thing, it’s truly genre-defying.

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Golden Oriole – Golden Oriole II

SM-LL BATCH0008 – 25th January 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Having recently extended my spoken word performances to collaborations with soundmakers, I’ve started to learn a little bit about home-made kit. Not the practicalities of constructing it: I mean I find myself conversing with guys – it’s invariably guys – who assemble circuitry, some of which ends up ether accompanying or processing / destroying my vocals. Their approaches to both construction and housing vary wildly: one guy just leaves his PSB open, while another has a selection of lever-type knobs set in an upturned (empty) chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle pot.

New Tendencies of one of a number of projects of Toronto-based musician, artist, designer, and educator Matt Nish-Lapidus, who explains the origins of Batch0008 as being ‘a set of sound experiments as I was building pieces of my Serge system. With each new modules or panel, I spent time trying to understand its possibilities, limits, and edges. From these experiments I learned techniques for what Serge calls “patch programming”, using the patching of the instrument to specify what each component is meant to do in that specific context.’

‘For this collection of pieces, I used patching as the sole means of sequencing and composing the music. The music here is the result of a process of experimentation and refinement, steadily pushed forward by Martin at SM-LL, providing essential feedback and reference points along the way that helped me arrive at the sound of this record. I wanted to play with the raw electronic sound of the Serge but still make pieces that hold together as compositions and are unique from one another.’

And so we land in microtonal, minimalist, high-detail territory. The pieces are indeed unique, and I’m assuming the titles are indicators of the origins of each. However, at the same time, the pieces share much commonality, with pulsing rhythms providing the focus and the form. None of the pieces really evolve, as much as they trundle along a preset groove. Repetition takes precedent over development, the compositions – such as they are – standing as cyclical, looping phrases, occasionally punctuated by extraneous noises. It’s all strangely cold, clinical, detached: Batch0008 very much feels like the document of a series of experiments, far more than it does an album.

The digital edition contains a seventh track, ‘Swelter’. This also feels like a document of an experiment, another three minutes of electronic pulsations, glitching beats and rhythmic ebb and flow.

As an audience, we probably take from this less than Matt Nish-Lapidus, but, by the same token, there’s an element of shared engagement here, and if Batch0008 is a document of his evolution as a kit-builder, it’s also a journey on which we, as listeners, are involved.

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BATCH0008_front

Kasuga Records 022 – 5th February 2019

James Wells

Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, less is genuinely less. The latest release from Syntax is sparse, impersonal, and keenly pursues the angle of ‘less’. In fact, Current is s sparse, so much ‘less’ that as times it’s barely there. So barely there I found that while working on this review of the album, I’d forget what I was doing and become side-tracked, distracted – by more or less anything. The fact it’s also being released as a limited-edition physical item -and SD card – that’s so much less you could easily lose it.

None of this is to say that Current is uninteresting: conceptually, it has substance and depth, and the accompanying blurb is a fascinating read, and it’s worth quoting at length:

‘Starting from the postulate that energy becomes form and form becomes energy, Current articulates — based on aesthetic rigor — the audible forms of electric current, seen as vital energy and the active principle of an artificial consciousness.

‘The analysis of sound phenomena from this perspective can be perceived as a source of meditation, which reflects a physical phenomenon on a philosophical field. Sonic details and structural artifacts (sic) are exposed to their own sonic value and examine — from a phenomenological perspective — the idea of flux, energy, artificial consciousness, self-direction and the capability of self-knowledge.

‘Within the sonic construct of Syntax, Laurian Bardoș draws strong influence from his study in medical psychology. From this perspective the evolution of his music has been greatly influenced by the study of perception and the Gestalt theory, which connects the spatial (geometric) form with the temporal form (sound).’

Sonically, Current manifests as a lot of wibbling drones and glitchy microbeats, sometimes so densely packed as to effect an almost scratching, crackling sound that creates interference against the almost subsonic low-end oscillations. Clicks, pops and hushed thumps draped in whispers and accompanied by sporadic modular pulsations that bleep, bloop, and bubble. Fizzing static, white noise, crackling distortion, whistles and sounds so fine as to create aural drizzle. Sonar echoes…. Everything is probing, exploratory, but the lights find only darkness and it’s impossible to find any sense of direction. And in this way, it becomes apparent how conventions of form and structure in music have a bearing on our bearings, so to speak, and cut loose from those conventions, Current presents something of a challenge.

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Kasuga022_front