Posts Tagged ‘Sunn O)))’

This White Light is the name of a new band featuring Greg Anderson/ guitar (Sunn O))), Goatsnake) and Jade Devitt/drums (Lucky Me, Gale Forces), Bryan Herweg/bass (Pelican) and vocals from Jen Wood (solo artist and formerly of Tattle Tale and collaborator with the Postal Service).

The four-piece have been working on material and plan to record on April 9th to the 13th at Josh Hommes’ Pink Duck studios, with him producing the recordings. Meanwhile, we can hear one of the demo tracks, ‘Winter Flowers’, here:

AA

TWL

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Ideologic Organ – SOMA025 – 10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The accompanying press release is instructive and informative as to the premise of the latest offering from The Necks. Entering their thirtieth year of their existence, the trio continue to innovate and to create music which expands the parameters of jazz music:

The latest document from this long-running ensemble, Unfold, presents itself as a double LP, with four side-length tracks. A deliberate absence of numbered sides hands a substantial swatch of participation over to the listener, allowing her to navigate his own path through the soundscape at hand. The shorter length of the vinyl format, far from being a constraint upon the members of the ensemble, instead offers them a more compact horizon to contemplate, wherein the distance travelled is recalibrated to more immediate and dynamic textural concerns.

The title is appropriate, in that it gives a fitting indication of the nature of the compositions. Although the vinyl format is pitched as being a ‘shorter’ format, the fact that each track occupies a full side of this double album means that each piece still has a running time of between fifteen and twenty-one minutes. And unfold is what they do: gradual evolutions, slow unfurlings and near-imperceptible outspreadings which creep from sparse to near-overwhelming.

‘Blue Mountain’ begins with a delicate piano, but over time builds in depth, tension and pace to a sustained crescendo that never quite breaks. It simmers long and leisurely, cymbal crashes rising in intensity, resembling an intro to a track on a recent Swans album. I mean this as a compliment: it’s a lengthy piece, but there’s movement, there are dynamics, there’s a tangible sense of trajectory.

Noodling Hammond keys wander over a slow, pulsating undulation on ‘Overhear’, and it’s hypnotic and mellow. Perhaps the most overtly ‘jazz’ composition, it also encapsulates perfectly the wide-ranging elements The Necks incorporate within their music. Bongos bubble up jittery rhythms while the trilling organ notes meander and weave, intersecting time signature s forging an increasing sense of spatial disorientation over time.

The tribal rhythms which dominate ‘Ride’ slowly but surely increase in pace, raising the tension as the elongated, barely perceptible notes hang in slow suspense. Ultimately, the pace reaches a frenetic peak, before collapsing into arrhythmia , a conglomeration of discord and distempo, and the fourth track, ‘Timepiece’ is nothing short of a bewildering chaos of percussion, discord and orchestrated dissonance. Against the clattering rattle of drums and more, bass notes resonate and xylophone notes ring out in different directions, and over time, it becomes increasingly unsettling disorientating, difficult.

Unfold is by no means an easy album. It’s by no means a ‘jazz’ album in conventional terms. But in terms of an album which bounces off the wall in myriad unexpected directions freeforming and freewheeling as the musicians explore interpersonal musical boundaries, it’s the epitome of jazz. It’s also really rather good. Well, it is a Necks album, after all.

The Necks - Unfold

Clang Records – Clang 042 – June 10th 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Hans Tammen’s Music for Choking Disklavier was one of the first albums to be reviewed here on Aural Aggravation, back in December last year. Deus Ex Machina finds Tammen continue to explore the possibilities of instruments when played in a fashion they were not designed to be played. Since 2000, Tammen has been working with the ‘Endangered Guitar’, and tirelessly developing its functionalities.

Tammen’s website summarises this ‘Guitar-Controlled Live Sound Processing’ in a fshion that’s more intriguing than explicitly instructive: ‘The Endangered Guitar is a journey through the land of unending sonic operations, an interactive hybrid between a guitar and a computer. The software “listens” to the playing, to then determine the parameters of the live sound processing. The guitar is the sound source, but the same sound is also used to control the software. Sounds of the guitar are processed in realtime, pitch and various other parameters of the actual playing serve as control source of the processing. Currently, additional control sources are provided by a Leap Motion Controller.’ Technical yet simultaneously vague, what it boils down to is that Tammen has devised a guitar / computer hybrid, and in 2004 her introduced a random element to the software.

Tammen’s collaboration with Lars Graugaard under the Infernal Machines moniker, which came out earlier this year, was more about utilising the Endangered Guitar in a tempered, moderated and counterbalanced way. In contrast, this live recording, the title of which references the theatrical practice of lowering a ‘god’ character on stage using a cable device in order to resolve a troublesome situation in the plot of a play, and in which Tammen casts himself the role of the actor, lowered to the stage to daringly intervene, is built on improvisation and a wide-ranging exploration of the hybrid instrument’s capabilities.

Tammen writes of the computer crashing while performing, and of how wildly unpredictable the whole setup is, and this very much translates into the audio captured on the album.

Scratched overdriven chords and discords splinter and snarl. Massive, distorted, overloading sludged-up Sunn O)))-like drones rumble on… and on… walls of sound collapse in on themselves. Pickups cut in and out intermittently, feed back and crackle. Occasionally, recognisable notes – albeit notes that sounds like a version of Metal Machine Music are distinctly audible. There are no tunes to be found here, and often, it doesn’t even sound like a guitar. On ‘Transaxle’, the guitar effects the sound of violin strings being scraped, against a droning, wheezing sound like a deflating bellows, while on ‘Interlude at Rake’, it conjures a techno sound, replicating synth stabs and booming bass beats. Rapid, looping modulations, bleeps and squiggles replicate the effect of analogue synths, with sounds which would be at home on a track by Factory Floor or Whitehouse, and elsewhere, dark ambient passages hum, rumble, grind and billow and grating industrial barrages relentlessly assault the senses. At times, it hurts. But it’s also entertaining and often enjoyable: Deus Ex Machina is sonically challenging and one can’t help but contemplate just how the sounds of a guitar can be mutated in real-time to create the diverse and sometimes utterly insane sounds captured here. It’s by no means a novelty album, either: the concept of the Endangered Guitar may sound like something of a gimmick, but Tammen demonstrates that his leading preoccupation is with innovation for the purpose of creating new sound, and more importantly, creating something with those sounds.

 

 

Hans Tammens - Deus Ex Machina

Southern Lord – 10th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Holy fuck. You really need to brace yourself for this. That it’s on Southern Lord and Hissing are described as a Seattle-based blackened/death/ sludge behemoth is a starting point, and the fact the band features a guy called Joe O’Malley, who happens to be the younger brother of Stephen O’Malley gives an indication that it might be heavy… but holy fuck. I’ve (thankfully) never been hit by a truck, but I get the feeling that listening to this is a very similar experience. Yes, it hurts.

My research tells me that the lyrics of the new EP are ‘thematically centred around the effects of the metropolitan environment on the human psyche and explore themes of agoraphobia, urban decay, and incarceration.’ The lyrics aren’t immediately apparent, but the sentiment is conveyed in no uncertain terms, and with unstinting, brutal force.

‘Cairn’ may be an innocuous enough title for a song, connoting a pile of rocks built up by walker to guide others, but there is nothing friendly about this six-minute onslaught. The bass frequencies are everywhere: it’s not a case of the track featuring a hefty bassline but the speakers groaning under the density of the all-consuming bass frequencies which shudder the cones.

‘Husk’ is a similarly terrifying experience, dense, brutal and gnarly. But mere adjectives can’t come close to truly conveying the experience. ‘Dense’ is overused, not least of all by me, to escribe a thick, heavy, impenetrable wall of sound. Hissing create a sound that’s dense to the power of ten, so dense as to almost possess physical presence.

Hissing

 

Hissing on Bandcamp

Ritual Productions – 22nd April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The Poisoned Glass is the current musical venture of G. Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59, formerly of Seattle doom metallers Burning Witch who called it a day in 1998. While former bandmates Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have gone on to achieve world domination, Dahlquist and Edgy59 have maintained rather lower profiles. As such, The Poisoned Glass are unlikely to garner the kind of attention Sunn O))) receive, but this is no sleight on their output: 10 Swords is dark, heavy, textured, and immensely atmospheric.

The album begins sparse, stark and dark, with the six-and-a-half minute ‘Plume Veil’; a ringing drone hovers icily. Anguished vocals intonating impenetrable lyrics emerge amidst erratic percussion that hits like cracks of thunder, and bass notes that register the kind of vibrations that could cause mountains to crumble.

‘Toil and Trouble’ is an elegiac, spiritual piece, haunting in tone and vast in magnitude, its sepulchral tones rent by demonic howls of pain and extraneous crackles of surging noise which seemingly rise from the underworld.

It’s incredibly dark stuff that borders on the oppressive at times; drones and groans, rumbling piano chords echoing in empty rooms of crumbling castles. The vocal harmonies on ‘Verbatim’ are overtly rock in style, but set against a doomy bass trudge that’s as crushingly heavy as planets colliding.

CD bonus cut ‘The Still Air’ marks quite a departure from the rest of the album; it still features brooding, droning atmospherics, but is led by a soulful vocal acapella which is every bit as compelling as the cold noise that radiates from the other tracks.

 

New (March) PG album cover

The Poisoned Glass at Ritual Productions Online