Posts Tagged ‘Orchestral’

Living Music Duplication – 17th November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Thor Harris continues to keep himself more than vaguely occupied in the post-Swans era, and also continues to demonstrate just what a versatile percussionist he is. The collective, centred around Harris, who not only contributes diverse and eclectic percussion, but also wind instruments including some of his own devising. features at its core, Peggy Ghorbani on marimba, and Sarah ‘Goat’ Gautier on marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, organ, voice, mellotron and piano.

Anyone on the market for Swans-style brutal percussive bludgeoning should leave now. Thor and Friends are pitched as an ‘avant-chamber ensemble’, drawing on ‘the classic Minimalist composers including Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but also amalgamate such diverse influences as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Moondog and The Necks around a polyrhythmic core of mallet-struck instruments, primarily marimba, xylophone and vibraphone’.

There’s a lighthearted, skipping melodic heart beating beneath the eddying synths and weirdy whistles and subtle strings which are all interwoven into one another on the hypnotic and ever-shifting ’90 Metres’. Ominous and eerie tones and echo-heavy chimes dominate both ‘Creepy Carpets’ and ‘Dead Man’s Hand’, while elsewhere, ‘Mouse Mouse’ explores a more playful side, manifesting as a sing-sing tune that has an almost nursery rhyme / lullaby feel to it.

In the fucked-up, brutal world in which we find ourselves, where it’s everyone for themselves while each and every citizen is shafted by governments and multinationals and consumerism, kindness does feel subversive. And in their own quiet way, Thor and Friends offer their own subversive resistance. It’s a gentle, mellifluous collection of compositions which are neither overtly contemporary nor steeped in traditionalism. It’s this sense that the music exists out of any place in time, and that it doesn’t obviously connote any concrete physical space that makes it so very appealing.

Thor and Friends

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ITN Corporation – 3rd November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

In the Nursery – or ITN as they’re sometimes referred – have been in existence for some thirty-five years but the Sheffield act centred around core duo of brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone have existed well beneath the radar for the duration of their career. This hasn’t prevented their music being featured on Game of Thrones, Interview with a Vampire, The Aviator, and Beowulf, amongst others, and 1961, which follows over two dozen previous albums after some six years’ silence, showcases a set with a cinematic quality which is ideally suited to TV and movie soundtracks.

While the album’s title and overarching theme is significant on a number of levels, not least of all it being the year of the birth of the Humbertstone brothers – as well as landmark historical events including the construction of the Berlin Wall – its sound exists out of time, and if it does betray a link to any period, it’s the 1980s. Post punk collides with orchestral grandeur across the album’s nine tracks, which explore a broad array of atmospheres and spaces, with judiciously placed samples and – occasionally – vocals bringing variety and range.

A stocky bass enveloped in eddying synths, cool and spacious dominate the marching beat of ‘Until Before After’, the album’s opener, which hints at the kind of brooding, atmospheric post-rock of early iLiKETRiANS. If the comparison seems dissonant in terms of time-frame, it’s testament to ITN’s ever-shifting sonic form and their endless capacity for evolution.

If the idea of a choir of soaring operatic vocals reminiscent of Karl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ atop a sweep of dramatic strings by what sounds like a full orchestra sounds ostentatious, the execution of ‘Torschlusspanik’ elevates is miles above pretention to true art.

Rippling pianos, soaring, graceful strings, chiming guitars and murky percussion all form the fabric of an intriguing album: ‘Grand Corridor’ conjures a claustrophobic intensity worthy of Joy Division, while the acoustic guitar led ‘Pacify’ has echoes of Bauhaus on Burning from the Inside and ‘Solaris’, with its pounding percussion and a bassline that’s pure Peter Hook, is a major standout.

There’s a lot going on, and it’s all good: 1961 is a spectacularly articulate album that never ceases to reveal new layers, new corners, new depths.

AAA

1961

Touch – TO:101

James Wells

It’s perhaps due to the formulaic nature of television dramas that a certain type of orchestral music has become almost a signifier for rolling countryside, and people in bouffy dresses and full skirts or frock coats and hats riding horses, brawling in taverns and battling high seas, or otherwise taking the and bidding one another ‘good day’. Such pieces are then played, ad infinitum, on commercial classical radio as exemplars of contemporary classical music. It’s by no means the fault of the composers or musicians: it’s inevitable in the arts that commissions and funded projects will determine the outlets of their work.

The medium isn’t always the message, though, and while the pieces featured here are largely products of specific commissions, Claire M Singer’s work retains a strong focus on her own compositional interests: (quote from press). Imposing strings, bold and evocative sweep and arc through ‘A Different Place,’ as rousing percussion drums a rolling, thunderous tattoo. ‘Ceo’ is an altogether sparser composition which casts a more gloomy atmosphere, and the title track is an extended meditation on the album’s theme (‘Solas’ translates as ‘light’ from the Gaelic) and Singer’s instruments of choice. The organ’s majestic grandeur is very much brought to the fore, and resonates on a deep, subconscious level.

The slow-building sweep of ‘Eilean’ is gentle yet at the same time subtly stirring, flowing into the humming swell of the solo organ piece of ‘Wrangham’. Disc two contains just one track, ‘The Molendiner’, co-commissioned by Glasgow art gallery The Civic Room and Union Chapel, London, which spans twenty-six minutes. Centred around ‘the precise control of wind though the pipes’ of the organ, it utilises various organ types to create a vast sonic expanse, which hangs, drawing out an immense mid-tone humming drone. This probably doesn’t sound like the greatest advocation, but trust me, it’s subtly powerful, and as a whole, Solas is a moving collection of works.

 

Claire M Singer - Solas

Keitkratzer Productions – 26th February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Reinhold Friedl’s Zeitkratzer collective are well established as trailblazers, tackling not only some of the most challenging composers and musical works, but also dismantling the distinction between genres and fields. They may use conventional orchestral instruments, but the sounds they produce are anything but conventional or readily recognisable as orchestral. It’s their unique approach to the creation of sound that has enabled them to not only interpret and perform, but do justice to, works ranging from Metal Machine Music to material by Whitehouse. Here, the nine instrumentalists are joined (for the third time) by Japanese experimental / noise performer Keiji Haino on vocals, and we find them revisiting one of the most difficult, divisive and groundbreaking composers of the 20th century in the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen.

The track-listing is the same as the Aus den Sieben Tagen album, recorded live by Keitkratzer without Haino in 2011. The compositions are the same and the performance similar in essence, but the overall sound achieved on Aus Den Sieben Tagen feels less brutal. But with restraint comes a greater sense of nuance, and a more menacing overtone.

After a silent play-in, ‘Unbegrenzt’ builds a long, low wheezing drone that sustains in perpetuity. Earthmoving bass tones growl in the sub-strata beneath it, while Haino emits droning, guttural incantations, groans and coughs as if attempting to expel his innards through his mouth before the sound once again fades gradually toward silence.

Emerging from the void, ‘Verbindung’ builds on the dark atmospherics which characterise the album, which simmers with, low, slow-building tension, scratches and scrapes, hums and hisses. Dank echoes and alien, animal sounds, snarling, growling, salivating dangerously.

The discordant brass and crashing, non-rhythmic percussion of ‘Intensität’ is a blast of anti-jazz, over which Haino coughs and splutters and heaves, howls and jabbers and screams like a possessed man in the throes of an exorcism.

Final track, the seventeen-minute ‘Zetz Die Segel Zur Sonne’ hangs on an eternal drone, the subterranean croak of the vocal conjuring images of ancient demons performing purgatorial rituals reminiscent of ‘Monoliths’ era Sunn O))). Truly, it’s a monster.

Zeitkratzer - Haino - Stockhausen

Zeitkratzer Online