Posts Tagged ‘musique concrete’

2182 Recording Company – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While books have blurbs that likely indicate whether or not you want to read them, records are altogether less pitch-orientated in their physicality, which, back in the day, used to make sifting through vinyl in shops and at record fairs an exercise which was a measure of one’s attitude to risk. Sometimes you’d take a punt on a record because you’d heard of the band and they sounded interesting, others, you’d go by the label or the cover or something.

Some traders – and this is something Jumbo records in Leeds still do – is put a short summary on a sticker on the PVC sleeve the record is stored in.

The virtual equivalent, for me, is scanning press releases. No way can I listen to everything I receive, let alone write about it, and some nights my inbox feels like flicking through boxes of records, unsure of what I actually want to hear until I find it. And lo, as I wander, aimless and befuddled, fatigued from another day of corporate chairpounding to keep the roof over my head and the bills paid, I stumble upon Damage Mécanique by Diminished Men. I’ve never heard of them, but on reading the pitch, I felt as if this was the thing I needed but didn’t know I needed until I found it.

Drawing from elements of film noir, psychedelic exotica, experimental rock, deviant surf and musique concrète, Diminished Men refocus their influences into something entirely unique. Collaged with menacing electricity, the raw materials are broken up and reassembled in their crude private facility. The group has spent more than a decade crafting their style and have established themselves as an integral part of Seattle’s underground music scene.

Their latest record, Damage Mécanique, thrusts the listener into a malfunctioning industrial sci-fi soundscape. Trance inducing guitars beckon with haunting wails, high-tension wires spin and spit with a crackling hiss. Circular kosmische rhythms and anxiety-drenched beats destroy and rebuild around fractured melodies and noise. The band oxidizes and melts into experimental post-punk and acousmatic environments as hypnotic groove and vertigo copulate in cinematic assemblage.

And there’s no question that they’ve got pedigree: drummer Dave Abramson is also a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, Spider Trio, and has collaborated with Eyvind Kang and Secret Chiefs 3 among many others.

As ‘Double Vision’ crashes in amidst clattering, explosive percussion and dingy bass, I’m hauled by the collar into the realms of early industrial in the vein of Test Dept and Perennial Divide, and instantly, I’m home, knowing that this was indeed what I needed. It’s sparse in terms of arrangement, but dense in terms of sound, and it’s abrasive, rhythm-orientated, loud, heavy, and batters away at the brain.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that when your thoughts are in a mangled disarray and your focus is no-existent that the answer lies in music that bashes you round the bonce from all directions at once, but for me, at least, it’s infinitely more beneficial than any kind of chillout shit or ambient – although amidst loping, rolling rhythms, ‘Wet Moon’ conjures a shimmering ambience of sorts, while pointing towards esoteric oddity.

‘The Maze’ confuses and confounds with its daze-inducing cyclical riff and motoric beats which are pure Krautrock, evaporating into a mist around the mid-section of its six-and-a-half minute duration that sees it build through a jazzy post-rock segment before tumbling back into that nagging, dislocated groove – and it’s a nagging dislocated groove that dominates the wig-out weirdness of ‘Panopticon’. It’s likely of help to no-one to comment that it sounds like Murder the Disturbed but with the wild sax of These Monsters, but there it is: obscure post-punk collides with obscure jazz-infused noise rock, and it’s a corking way to end the first side of the album.

If ‘Axiel Tremors’ suggests rock excess played at a crawl, then it’s equally dragged out via some expansive jazz expressions into the realms of darkness. ‘Silver Halides’ brings a bold, brawling swagger to a cautious and subdued party of picked guitar introversion, and the final piece in this mismatched musical jigsaw, the six-minute ‘Spy’ hits the groove and drives it out of the door – while the door is still closed. Just as they clearly know how to make an entrance, they obviously understand the importance of a memorable exit.

There’s no particular or overt theme which unifies Damage Mécanique, and nor is there really anything that’s obvious stylistically speaking, as the album tosses a whole load into the mix and feels, in many respects, quite introspective in its influences and inspirations. There are, however, strong and unusual contrasts in evidence, with doomy bass and twanging desert rock working in tandem to forge a unique sonic experience., alongside, well, you name it. Quirky, atmospheric, Damage Mécanique is odd, but also compelling. It could be just the album you need, too.

kHz-1009_front

Sub Rosa – 26th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

In the scheme of Ghédalia Tazartès singular career, which saw him featured more prominently in dance, theatre, and cinema than on record – a career spanning back to the mid-late 70s yielded just thirteen albums – this release is significant in several ways, not least of all in that it contains probably his final recordings prior to his death in February 2021 at the age of 73. It follows his last album release, Superdisque, which was released a full decade ago, in 2021. It also documents a collaboration that almost never happened.

As the story goes, ‘Tazartès and Chatham had met once in 1977 at CBGC’s and had not seen each other since then when they were asked by their mutual agent to play a private show in Paris. This happened in September 2018 in a house with a garden where sax player Steve Lacy had lived back in the 1990s. This album presents the recording of this show plus another show at La semaine du bizarre festival in Montreuil, France a year later, mixed with a couple of studio sessions.’

Their coming together yields something – and I’ve struggled to find a word that comes anywhere near describing what others have simply classed as ‘indescribable’ and ‘unclassifiable’ – most otherly. Tazartès singing is, in itself not only unique as a style, but also as an experience. It’s less about what it conveys as such, and more about how it touches you. It’s certainly not singing in the conventional sense; and yet, it is very much musical, rather than mere vocalisation. Tazartès sings from different parts of the body, and his voice tremors and quivers, trills, gargles, and ululates.

On the four parts (or ‘actes’) of the ‘Jardin de Simone’ performance, Chatham’s sparse, minimal backings provide a shimmering backdrop that ripples and glimmers softly. On ‘Acte 1’, it’s chiming notes, picked, on a clean electric guitar, while on ‘Acte 2’, it’s wavering woodwind which accompanies Ghédalia’s soft croon. Scraping strings create a dolorous discord alongside a wailing, weeping, skittish vocal performance on ‘Acte 3’ while the fourth and final piece floats into the atmosphere in amorphous waves if sound.

The three parts which make up the ‘Semaine du bizarre’ set are quite different, with Chatham’s backing on the ten-minute ‘Acte 1’ being denser, the electric guitar rattling and with strains of feedback filtering through the stuttering notes. The stutters are not of hesitation, but of tightly-reined tension, and over time the form evolves into an elongated tapering drone. The vocal adopts an almost falsetto-range droning quality, at times shifting to a guttural throb, at others, an open-throated note sustained on, and on. Woodwind drapes and twists around like fingers of mist. In combination, it feels mystical, in an impenetrable, occult way. Overall, this set is more drone-orientated, Tazartès’ vocals venturing more toward the lower register, the growlier, the more atonal. And yet, in places, he soars almost operatically, albeit descending like a punctured bellows after, while the instrumentation wheezes out, fatigued.

The vinyl finds a performance on each side, while the digital version features a bonus cut, appropriately entitled ‘Encore’. This, too, is quite drone-orientated, with the addition of a certain hint of an Eastern twang.

As a whole, Two Men In A Boat feels like a meditative work, and one which exists out of any kind of context, real or imposed. Without any constraints in terms of structure, culture, time, place, or even meaning – explicit or implied – the performers can be found revelling in the freedom of musical explorations. These are songs of the soul, and Two Men In A Boat is a unique document.

AA

SRV520_front