Posts Tagged ‘Gizeh Records’

Gizeh Records – 25th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Although having contributed to various projects and collectives, including a number of independent soundtracks that have appeared through Gizeh, it’s been a while since Christine Ott last released anything as a primary artist. Nanook of the North, a collaboration with Torsten Böttcher, who brings hang drum, kalimba, and didgeridoo to Ott’s diverse array of instruments.

Nanook of the North is another soundtrack to a film which ‘tells the daily life of the Eskimo family living in Hudson Bay. Fights for life, constant shifts, fishing, seal hunting… The spectator shares the life of the family of the far north’.

As a release, this has been a long time in coming, having been first commissioned in 2013 by La Rochelle International Film Festival.

From the first strike of percussion, which sends a low, rippling hum on which eerie atmospherics build in layers like thick mist, the pair conjure highly evocative soundscapes. Pairing piano with non-western instrumentation makes for some fascinating and utterly compelling combinations, with unusual melodies taking shape along the way. Whereas many soundtracks place the compositional emphasis on atmospherics and vague structures, Nanook of the North stands out for its tendency toward keenly co-ordinated structures and definite tunes brimming with chiming melodies.

There are moments of brooding, shade that contrasts with the unexpected levels of light that fill this album, and ‘Walrus Hunting’ balances drama and playfulness through the incorporation of jazz tropes. Elsewhere. ‘Winter’s Coming’ conveys the ominous sense of darkening days and a creeping chill, while ‘Et le blizzard’ is surprisingly calm and soothing as opposed to the tempest one would reasonably expect. But then, the silence of a blizzard can be a strangely tranquil experience.

The range on Nanook of the North is impressive: it’s expressive and conveys such an array of moods and spaces, while at the same time retaining a compositional and instrumental coherence. And while the places these pieces speak of are bone-breakingly cold, the listening experience is most heart-warming.

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Gizeh Records / Consouling Sounds

13th September 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

A-Sun Amissa’s fifth album promises to build on ‘the foundations of previous record Ceremony in the Stillness (2018), incorporating some of the heavier, distorted, guitar oriented themes but this time fuses them with broken, crumbling electronic beats and primal drone movements’.

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about how Richard Knox has steered A-Sun Amissa in recent years has been his systematic approach to producing new output: following a gap of fur years between 2013’s You Stood Up for Victory, We Stood Up for Less and The Gatherer (2017), with the assistance of an array of collaborators, he’s released an album a year. This has likely proved integral to the steady evolution and the sense of progression across the last three albums. And this album being almost a completely solo effort (Knox wrote, recorded, and mixed the entire album, as well as providing the artwork) has really focused his energies on pushing himself in all directions across the album’s two longform compositions

The pieces on offer here are underpinned by vast ambient passages that are drenched in distortion and reverb, slowly unfurling before more industrial, kinetic sounds are introduced and heaving guitars come to the fore. As ever, there’s a melancholic dissonance that resonates throughout, repetition is key and moments of dread are paired with shafts of light as these two monolithic pieces unravel themselves over the course of forty minutes.

‘Seagreaves’ begins as a distant howl of dark, whirling noise, scraping, screeding, creating a dark, simmering tension and a sense of foreboding, of disquiet.When it fades out to be replaced by guitar, the atmosphere shifts from menacing to melancholy. There are hints of Neurosis, and also Earth Inferno era Fields of the Nephilim in the picked notes, gradually decaying in an organic reverb. The cyclical motif is pushed along by a plodding rhythm, forging a slow, lumbering groove that builds primarily through plain repetition. Petering out to almost nothing around the midpoint, we’re left with a vast, open and almost empty space. It’s around the sixteen-minute point that everything surges back in for a sustained crescendo, a cinematic post-metal climax that finds the guitars soar while the rhythm thunders low and slow.

‘Breath by Breath’ is subtler still, elongated drones and whispers of feedback echo as if a long way away, before a piano ripples somewhere on the horizon. The atmosphere isn’t strictly tense or even dark, but shadowy, and it’s difficult to attribute a specific sensation or mood to it. When the strolling bass and sedate percussion roll in, layers of metallic guitar noise filters in – quiet, backed off, but harsh. Voices echo from the underworld, almost subliminally. And then: a momentary pause. It’s barely a heartbeat, but everything crashes in with the driving yet deliberate force of Amenra. And from hereon in it’s incremental, but also cumulative in its growing volume and impact.

Knox describes For Burdened and Bright Light as ‘a more immersive, ambitious, adventurous record of conflicting emotions as the theme of the work tackles the contradictions of being human and explores the duality of light and dark, hope and despair’, and not only is the ambitiousness clear, but those ambitions are fulfilled. Dare I – once again – describe a work as ‘epic’? Yes: the scope of For Burdened and Bright Light is vast in every sense, and it does engage the listener’s senses and provokes contemplation through it’s shifting movements, moving not only between mods but also genre forms. The result is not only unique, but powerful and captivating, holding the attention and rewarding patience over the expansive pieces.

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Gizeh Records – 26th July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

‘File under: Avant-Garde, Drone, Dark-Ambient’, says the press release. And yes, the nine pieces on Göldi fell, an album limited to 175 hand-printed copies on CD are indeed darkly ambient drone-fests, rich in atmosphere and the rumbles of distant thunder. I spend many long hours listening to music of this ilk, and while I do enjoy it, I sometimes struggle for new descriptors, and often find myself gradually drifting in a way that means I have no significant emotional response to detail. And yet this is most definitely not ‘background’ audio: it’s mood-influencing, and the creeping fear chords and unexpected interjections and the trembling sawing scrapes contrive to jangle the nerves and leave the listener on edge. Yes, I’m glancing over my shoulder, pausing my typing to listen to determine if the sound I just heard came from the speakers of an intruder on the stairs, someone in the back yard.

The strings drone and drag into scraping metallic contrails that melt into undifferentiated sonic melanges, and this is an album that creeps and crawls, spreading dark energy like dry ice around the ankles as it plunders the gut-twisting fear-chords and unsettles from beginning to end.

At times mellow, delicate, and at others uncomfortable, scraping sinuous and dissonant, this is a deep and contemplative work that elicits reflection from the listener. At this particular moment, I’m reflecting on time – specifically, time when I had time to stop, to think, to spend afternoons simply listening to music and / or reading a book. It feels like a long time ago. What happened?

For all the darkness, I can’t help but be amused by the press write that states ‘Several Wives lie in the darkened corner of a room. Paintings torn, forgotten against the wall. Dead rhythms seep through the floor. Everything is tired. Everything is jaded.’

It’s funny because of the band name. it works in that it conjures a most visual and vaguely surreal image that’s entirely incongruous with the music itself. Plus, as anyone who’s married will likely tell you, one wife is more than enough, and the prospect of several is even more terrifying than the shrieking, wailing cat, string crescendo that howls and mewls the challenging finale of ‘The Blinding of Delilah’. There’s also an element of if not outright humour, them flippancy about some of the titles: ‘that dream you had’, ‘that other dream you had’, and ‘Her on the phone’ are casual-sounding and contrast with the weighty, atmospheric drones that creep and crawl around among the looming shadows of their own casting.

Göldi fell is a difficult album, but for all of the right reasons. None of it feels easy or comfortable. And nor should we want it to. It’s healthy to be unsettled, unnerved from time to time, to be dragged out of that tiredness, that jadedness.

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Gizeh Records – 15th March 2019

Christine Ott has graced the virtual pages of Aural Aggravation on a number of occasions, and has been on my radar for a while. Here, she comprises one half of newly-founded Snowdrops, a France-based keyboard duo formed with Mathieu Gabry.

With Yann Tiersen, Tindersticks, Foudre!… as resumé namedrops, the pair have pedigree. Snowdrops is a soundtrack work, composed for Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s film of the same name, which has won several awards including Best Film in the Orizzonti section at the Venice Film Festival.

The press release explains that ‘the Thai film trains a poetic look at the void of humanity through the story of two men, a Thai fisherman with peroxide blonde hair and a nameless stranger stuck in a foreign land and supposed to be a Rohingya of Myanmar, whose continuing persecution is constituting one of the biggest human rights scandals of our time’. And so Snowdrops is a film of extreme importance right now. The world is in turmoil, and while culture is supposedly the most evolved it’s ever been, humans right are being eroded, disregarded. Corporations and governments act s if they’re exempt, and yet they all talk of ‘the will of the people’.

According to the press release, ‘Snowdrops’ soundtrack brings another dimension to Aroonpheng’s movie. The duo was especially focused to build their sound here on a frame of keyboards of different generations (Ondes Martenot, Mellotron, MS2000 or Altered keyboards). The color is sometimes dark (‘The Mangrove’, ‘Losing a Friend to Death’), sometimes surrealistic (‘Lights in the Deep), and in the case of ‘Weird Dance’, a suggestion of romance between the two main characters on the rhythm of a dreamy electronic tune.’

A soundtrack’s function must always be to enhance the movie it accompanies, and to add depth and dimension. But my initial response to any soundtrack release is ‘does it work without the visuals?’ And while immersing myself in the work, I ask ‘what visuals, what images does this conjure? What mood does it convey?’ Soundtracks which are reliant on the film they accompany are fine, but are better not release independently. And I’m doubly not a fan of those ‘OST’ works which feature snippets of dialogue or scenes intersected with songs. 20 years ago, it was maybe cool. In fact, it was. It was the way soundtracks were, and showcased classic dialogue that would pass into postmodern parlance. But listening back now to the CD of Pulp Fiction, it sounds somehow naff. And the Trainspotting soundtrack albums aren’t soundtrack albums, but compilations. Has the world changed or have I changed? Perhaps both: there’s an entire generation coming through who haven’t even heard of Trainspotting, let alone its vast cultural impact. Culture has a short memory, and it’s depressing.

Snowdrops’ soundtrack to Manta Ray is very much a musical work in its own right, designed to compliment the film. It isn’t glitzy, it isn’t mainstream.

Sonorous, rumbling pulsations sound out into the depths on the first piece, ‘Introduction / Gemstones in the Forest,’ before soft, delicate sonic lacework begins to drape its semi-abstract from over the fluid framework of the composition as it drifts in a loose, languid form.

‘The Monologue’ may have more solidity for French-speakers, but the mumbled utterances, delivered against a backdrop of distant piano, played as a dolorous, single chord motif, whispering contrails and melancholic atmosphere speaks beyond language. And indeed, language and its abstraction shapes a large part of this album’s organic feel. It bubbles, mellifluous, and isn’t an easy work to grasp any sense of tangibility from.

Much of the album consists of muffled dissonance and unintelligible murmurings, and these work well in the way they conjure deep, dark atmospherics. They do little to convey any sense of filmic narrative, but in context it’s hardly a problem. Manta Ray is abrim with subaquatic abstraction, subterranean, swampy sounds, and exists within a sense of itself. 

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Snowdrops

Gizeh Records – 26th April 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Aidan Baker has done it again: pulling together a brace of collaborators to form a perfect triangle, See Through is a magnificent sum that’s greater than the parts, showcasing the way relinquishing individuality in favour of collectivism can yield something… other. And See Through is decidedly other. The press release describes the process, an evolution and layering: ‘The project was brought to life through Baker exploring textural rhythms created by sampling small, sharp and abrupt sounds on the electric guitar and then sequencing them in a drum machine to form the bedrock of the tracks. Mueller then added his particular, signature brand of intricate, hypnotic percussion to the mix and the compositions began to grow and take shape. The pair agreed that the pieces needed a more human touch and Coloccia was invited onboard, contributing processed vocals via looping, tape manipulation and microphone feedback.

To describe it as ‘ambient with beats’ – a phrase I’ve used to describe worriedbaoutsatan, who sound nothing like this – may be vague, but it’s accurate. It’s all about the slow build… and the percussion. Starting with higher-pitched finger drums, it evolves to a polyrhythmic experience. Insistent tribal drumming hammers a martial beat that underscores wraith-like vocal echoes and soft, supple surges of abstract ambience… the effect is mesmerising, hypnotic. Snaking hints of the exotic twist through the hazy infusions of the sprawling eight-and-a-half-minute ‘Repeat’, which finds the percussion dampened, dulled, yet no less insistent as it clumps and clatters along in the swirling sonic mists.

See Through is an album of evolution, and the tracks seep into one another to form a cohesive but ever-shifting sequence. As is the case in respect the album as a whole, the percussion is key, and changes between each piece, backing off and rising to the fore once more.

‘Summer’ takes a more ambient direction, the beats subdued and submerged, muffled and distant and pulsing through a viscous, subaquatic density, before the title track ventures deeper into darker territory, an unsettling, shifting rumble that shudders and shuffles, suffused with incidental scrapes and vaporous drones which creep in and out of the frame like ghosts, like drifting mists, like so many intangibles. It’s dark, uncomfortable, disorientating, and extremely difficult to pin down -which is precisely its indefinable source of both its appeal and its artistic success. It builds to a scraping crescendo around the 8-9minute mark.

The final track, ‘Harmony in Distance’ wafts drifting ambience over a soft rhythm that builds in intensity, until the soft sonic washes and drifting vocals give way to a rising thunder of drums that drive the album to a tidal climax.

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Baker et al

GIZEHFEST 2019 will have two very special editions, taking place in Eeklo, Belgium and Manchester, UK.

The inaugural Gizehfest launched in February 2018 as a special event in celebration of the labels diverse roster, bringing together a selection of artists involved with the label over the years. We are delighted to be able to push forward with this idea and take it to a new country and a wider audience. Gizeh is now well known for not being attracted to any one genre of music and we are proud to be able to bring together an assorted collection of the current roster for what promises to be a stunning evening of boundary-pushing sonic pleasure featuring one-off collaborations and exclusive performances.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS IN MANCHESTER

A-SUN AMISSA
A-Sun Amissa is a music collective founded and led by Richard Knox (The Eternal Return Arkestra, The Rustle of the Stars, Shield Patterns, Glissando) that has featured an array of members and collaborators since it’s formation in 2011. Their sound touches on elements of post-rock, doom, dark-jazz and drone. Recorded output has been released on Richard’s own Gizeh label as well as Belgium’s Consouling Sounds. A new album Ceremony in the Stillness was released in September – the projects most focused and structured output yet.
Dense and heavy atmospheres provide the backdrop to the sound. Layers of mournful, melancholic and ethereal melodies weave amongst the thundering beats and intense, heaving guitars.
The band has toured Europe several times and performed with the likes of Amenra, Nadja, Helen Money, Jozef Van Wissem, Jucifer and Telepathy.
Members and collaborators in the project include; Richard Knox (The Eternal Return Arkestra, Shield Patterns, The Rustle of the Stars, Glissando), Angela Chan (Tomorrow We Sail, Lanterns On The Lake, The Rustle of the Stars), Owen Pegg (Hundred Year Old Man), Claire Brentnall (Shield Patterns), David McLean (Gnod, Tombed Vision Records), Aidan Baker (Nadja), Colin H. van Eeckhout (Amenra), Gareth Davis (Merzbow, Oiseaux-Tempete), Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempete, The Rustle of the Stars, FareWell Poetry, FOUDRE!), Aaron Martin, Christine Ott and Jo Quail. www.slowsecret.com


HUNDRED YEAR OLD MAN
A ferocious and immersive listening experience, delivering an epic, monolithic voyage through masses of atmosphere. Full of texture, depth, aggression and emotion, HYOM deliver a sound that is unique, crushing and mind-altering. Having gradually crept into the collective consciousness of the European post-metal scene, this Leeds-based collective is on an ascent that has gained an almost unstoppable momentum. Debut album Breaching was released in April and relentless touring in 2018 ensued including festival appearances at Bloodstock and Damnation.
https://hundredyearoldman.bandcamp.com

A.R.C. SOUNDTRACKS
A.R.C. Soundtracks is an audio/visual duo based in Manchester, UK. Marrying bleak drones, doomy beats and FX-heavy spoken-word to ritualistic visuals, they are an unsettling encounter. They have released via LCR and Sacred Tapes and a new album recorded at Islington Mill (home to GNOD etc) in Salford is out now via Gizeh Records‘ Dark Peak series (also home to Christine Ott, Aidan Baker & Claire Brentnall and A-Sun Amissa). Their current live show was premiered at London’s Cafe Oto in 2016 and works as a soundtrack to prepared visuals.
www.arcsoundtracks.bandcamp.com

AGING
Aging are a gloom heavy jazz band whose music unfurls as slowly as cigarette smoke. Directly inspired by Film Noir, Hardboiled Detective Fiction and the weepiest of Torch Songs, their sole purpose for making music is to make you cry into your drink and look stylish whilst doing it.
https://tombedvisionsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/suitable-for-night

Tickets are on sale, available here.

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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