Posts Tagged ‘exprimental’

Cruel Nature Recordings – 16th October 2020

New York’s Lip Critic return with their second album, imaginatively titled Lip Critic II. Now, I have a tendency – and I know it’s spurious – to associate numbered albums with prog and indulgence, ranging from Peter Gabriel to Led Zeppelin. But there is nothing remotely proggy or indulgent about Lip Critic’s second eponymous release, which crams nine tracks into 21 minutes of genre hybridity and maniacal mayhem. And make no mistake: this is intense and crazy shit, all going off in a boiler at once.

The lazy hookline would be that the album’s first track, ‘Why Not’, sounds like The B52s on acid, but more accurately, it sounds like The B52s on acid and meth imitating a fictitious Dead Kennedys / obscure hip-hop collaboration for the Judgement Night soundtrack. But none of this really convey just how frantic, frenetic, fucked-up and actually quite how wrong this all is. Yes, the world of Lip Critic is a bewildering one that absolutely defines the concept of ‘crossover’, and the closest comparison I can think of is Castrovalva, who were ace but niche and probably for a reason. It’s so far into niche crossover it’s hard to determine the level of seriousness behind the hybridized mess of noise that is Lip Critic II: this is an album that goes beyond so many boundaries all at once.

I don’t know what this is, and I suspect it doesn’t either. And nor should it: music should exist for its own sake, free from any constraints of genre. But with Lip Critic, it’s brain-bending and bewildering: there is simply so much going on, and all of it’s incongruous and seemingly incompatible.

‘Dreamland I’ is out-and-out mad, not so much a mash-up or hybrid as a multi-genre pileup with gas tank explosions and flames and wailing sirens and probably some people being cut from cars by fire and rescue and others being abducted by aliens.

‘Like a Lemon’ brings garage, grime, and industrial-strength hip-hop together with mangled beats a punishingly heavy groove that provides a backdrop to a more narrative-orientated approach to the lyrics, describing a guy with ‘A double-breasted suit and tight shorts / they’re so tight they cut off the circulation to his legs / … he said ‘I’m going to fill you up with rhinestones’.

At every turn, Lip Critic deliver mind bombs of every shape and form: sonically, stylistically, lyrically, Lip Critic II is simply an explosion. With every song being so brief, one barely has time to realise it’s started before it’s finished, and by the end, the listener is left punch-drunk, bewildered and dizzy. I think it’s good. I think it’s horrible. I think it’s a mess. But I can’t be sure.

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24th July 2020

This Valley Of Old Mountains is a collaboration between Taylor Deupree and Federico Durand, which the press release informs us, ‘quietly creates the folklore of an imaginary land. From a hemisphere apart, share simple sounds with complex stories. Their music balances an edge between translucency and exploration, focusing on obscurity, repetition and a shared

fascination of the mountains between them’.

The album’s thirteen tracks are sparse and lilting, and oftentimes intimate a certain oriental influence as the notes – picked and struck – ring out into a confined-sounding space. For the remainder, they simply hover and hum, an easy, effortless wash of sound. You don’t you just sit as the glitches play out, twisting your psyche fleetingly, and wonder where it’s actually going as you venture into your own head.

Not a lot happens here, but then again, this isn’t about events, and more about atmosphere. Listening to This Valley of Old Mountains, there are moments where I can’t tell if I’m listening to the album or just the throb of the extractor fan in the bathroom next to my office. In a way, it doesn’t really matter either way.

‘Honii’ brings trilling twitters of birdsong to join the slow, echoing chimes of dulcimer and similar, while ‘Wintir’ is minimal, atmospheric, and exemplary of sparsely-arranged warps and wefts. ‘Polei’ is a slow, soporific tinkling piece, and fits with most of This Valley of Old Mountains’ mellow mellifluousness.

This Valley of Old Mountains is background, is barely-present, is vague in structure. It’s a perfectly ambient work of ambience, and works perfectly.

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Interstellar Records – INT039

Christopher Nosnibor

Perhaps it’s because I’m not a speaker of German that I find the language so fascinating. In particular, the way compound words create long strings of letters which evoke phlegm. The album’s title and the titles of the two tracks, ‘Ereignishorizont’ and ‘Zustandhorizont’ translate as ‘Event-Horizon’ and ‘State-Horizon’ respectively, according to the press release (penned by a fellow based in Berlin and whose translation I trust), and they stand as megalithic sonic sculptures, forged using sounds conjured from 300-year-old organs. Hose are church organs, of course – an instrument which has been a longstanding fascination for Stefan Fraunberger. He has devoted considerable time to travelling extensively through Transylvania and exploring abandoned churches in such of disused organs and capturing their sounds.

Transylvania contains a number of small villages, which have seen the majority of their population lost to migration following the fall of communism, leaving the fortress churches, built during the Ottoman Wars, abandoned, vacant and crumbling.

It’s perhaps because of these conditions that the organs which feature on this album’s two long-form tracks sound worn, rusted dilapidated forlorn. Conventionally, the organ yields a sound that is vast, bold, empowering, a sound which reaches to the skies and beyond, which fills the heart, the soul and the lungs, and which is rousing, and which is ultimately uplifting, spiritual.

But rather than the grand surges of sound commonly associated with church organs, Fraunberger’s compositions are delicate, gentle, long, reedy sighs which trill and quaver. Sad wheezes groan limply, a forlorn puff of a punctured bellows. The sounds cautiously teeter together, bend, hum and drone, ephemeral moments of accord and discord move seemingly at random. Gentle glides slide into cacophonous ruptures, key changes and chords disregarded.

The variety of tonalities and textures, atmospheres and moods is remarkable, and Fraunburger’s approach to transitions between these is ceaselessly inventive, with sudden changes bringing drama and more subtle shifts proving more calm and sedate. Impressively, the two pieces were recorded in single takes and are released here with no edits whatsoever, although the double vinyl release sees each track split into two pieces.

Given that the organ is, conventionally, a mighty and powerful instrument, to hear such dilapidated cases, puffing and droning creaking and fatigued, is strange and sad. The off-kilter and anticlimactic crescendos, the off-key climaxes and underpowered upsurges reveal a very different side of an instrument that carries undeniable connotations of a transcendental connection. And so what this album conveys, on many levels is a sense of diminishment, revealing as it does the fragility and ultimate humanity of the instruments. The organs recorded here are no more immortal, immutable or otherwise godly than anything else made by human hands, and as such, they’re prone to the same forces of nature and of ageing as anything else.

Fraunberger considers his work to be a form of ‘sonic archaeology,’ and it’s a fitting description. These recordings are based on instruments long forgotten, excavated after decades of decay. The moss and ivy grow as the timbers split and the tiles fall from the roofs. Nature always wins, and time is the only unstoppable force.

 

 

Stefan Fraunberger - Wurmloch