Piano and orchestra. 3 movements, 50 minutes. Took Brahms 5 years to write this, completed in 1859. Vigorous, learned, and uncompromising. “The Texan Who Conquered Russia” — Van Cliburn on the ivories. Give it a spin!
Solo trumpet. Non- musical approach. Gaseous outbursts from the release valve. Mouthpiece makeouts, valve thumping, brassy breathing, soft frantic knocking. Auto mechanic’s friend. Every once in a while it will startle you. Some tracks very quiet. Can you hear that noise?
Walker, Florence / Phil Walker (Recorded By) – “Sounds From The Archipelago Vol. 1” – [Shiok! Records]
Son of the German Diplomat to Moscow at the outbreak of the first World War, Walter Spies was a primativist painter who drifted eastward into Bali in the 1920s. He brought Balinese culture to the west and had a great influence on modern Balinese art and music.
In the 30s Spies and the Indonesian dancer Wayan Limbak adopted ketchak, a Balinese trance ritual, into a drama and dance intended for performance before Western tourist audiences. The syncopated Ketchak chant can be heard in Satyricon, Akira, and Blood Simple.
This is an example of what James Clifford describes as the “modern art-culture system” in which, “the West or the central power adopts, transforms, and consumes non-Western or peripheral cultural elements, while making ‘art,’ which was once embedded in the culture as a whole, into a separate entity.”
The Ketchak chant can be heard on Side A, Band 6.
This record is an uncredited reissue of 1961’s music of Indonesia produced by Henry Cowell and released on Smithsonian Folkways. The Shiok! label is based in Singapore.
Regardless, these recordings are great quality and very compelling, gamelan and wood flute. Indonesian lutes, vocal and violin. A ceremonial tone pervades throughout.
This 2001 CD from Neurot Recordings is the sole release from Vitriol, the solo project of Ben (G.C.) Green, the bassist from Godflesh.
Vitriol is an archaic term for sulfuric acid, (the word derives from the Latin vitriolum, “of glass”, as crystals of metal sulfates resemble colored glass). The substance was central in alchemical practice for its transformative powers, its importance reflected in the alchemist’s motto “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem” – “Visit the interior of the earth, and purifying it, you will find the hidden stone.” Green pursued this message, and this album is an account of his personal inward search. Recorded from 1995-1996, these tracks were made during a year long retreat to the mountains of Wales, where Green lived and worked in solitude. “Visita” (T1) opens with beautiful drones looping in reverse. Many of the tracks focus on abstract, textured noise, with additional elements like heavy distortion (T2), bell-like drones (T4), rushes of water and driving pulses (T5). There’s the sounds of the paranoia that sets in during extended periods of isolation: deep voices rising up from the mountains (T3), imagined footsteps echoing in an empty house (T6). The album ends on a (somewhat surprising) peaceful note, with beautiful reverberating guitars (T7).
This one pretty much writes itself. Eight self-describing pieces for prepared piano from NYC composer/improviser and CalArts grad Quentin Tolimieri. The piano is stuffed with various objects, then bowed (T1), plucked (T3), and hammered. Chaotic and bangy at times, smooth and melodic at others. The works each have a unique structure and pace which doesn’t dawdle and stays relatively busy, expect for the sparse one (T5). Best just to let everything flow over you, and not get too caught up in the notes. All tracks are under 6 minutes, except for the long one (T4).
LA experimentalist. Long moody tracks from different times and recordings. Sounds like abstract stringed instruments. Some quiet moments. Mostly you can really zone out on this rollercoaster.
Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury have been composing analog synth works as Long Distance Poison since 2010. Most of the releases from this Brooklyn duo are on cassette (though the only one we have so far is a 12″ single) including this 2015 tape from Prison Tatt.
Each side of Twin Lights Twin Lights holds a sidelong track. “Mosa” (T1) immediately swells into a vicious surge of sound. At the center of the piece are heavy, earth-shaking pulses, but as it unfolds, subtler details begin to emerge. There’s tones twisting outwards, insectoid flourishes, bizarre melodies that hiss, crawl, breathe. The piece includes hydrophone recordings of the East River. “Infra Viam (Live At Death By Audio, 9/19/12)” (T2, Cearley and Bradbury are joined by Casey Block on a Micromoog), a live track from the now shuttered NYC studio/venue, feels like the afterimage of the first side: we hear settling dust clouds, smoldering remains, piano-like notes blurred beyond recognition, glowing embers, droning echoes, absence. Recommended if you enjoyed getting lost in the void of Zaimph’s latest work.
Baraki: a Pashtun tribe, a village in Afghanistan, a village in Poland or Iran, a commune in Algeria, a Belgian insult for a slob.
This Baraki, wherever the name comes from, is an accomplished musician out of Kyoto. “Colony Laspberry” is his master class in many styles of electronic dance music, so well done that on a continuous listen, one wonders if this is many groups/projects instead of just one. It’s just one: Baraki.
Each track is a unique sound: “rock “n job” starts off like classic Japanese electronica pop from the 80’s/90’s. From there it takes off. We get IDM, drill ‘n bass, environmental ambient, rave pounding beats, freak out spinning electronic bouncy mumble, squelch. All the sounds are here. Wow wow wow. Head spinning yes please.
Does it get much more lovely than this? Maybe, but grasp this while you can. Three pieces of mood by the dynamic duo of Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann, one piece – Dawn- selected as part of Kompact’s POP AMBIENT 2016. The stunning cover of the Matterhorn as double sets the mood for these three contemplative selections. “Alpine Morning” is a meandering electronic soundscape with backward tracked voices, like music for getting ready for a stroll in the great outdoors. “Alpine Evening” sets the beats, distorted sounds and even some squelched yodeling, for a dance club in Zermat, looking out on the famous natural attraction. “Alpine Dawn” starts out with cow or sheep bells, just what one would hear in the small farms surrounding the alpine fixture and then floats, twists and turns luxuriously – music for watching the sun rise? Or maybe it has nothing to do with the Matterhorn at all. Whatever, it’s gorgeous.
A cavalcade of odd sounds, the origins of which are difficult to discern. Are these machines? Organic things? Electronic glitchery? Tape manipulation? Samples of who knows what? Probably all of the above. The first track starts with weirdly percussive monotone vocals and then moves into snippets of dialog about being sick and not wanting to live and bum trips and such. Then you’re in for a treat: two marathons (34 minutes and 25 minutes) of layered sounds that twist and turn and evolve and go all kinds of places and just work really well. The final track is 17 seconds long and totally unnecessary. Inscrutable material overall.
Philip Samartzis is an Australian sound artist, composer, and professor in Sculpture, Sound and Spatial Practice at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He and Andrew Curtis formed the group Gum in the late 80s to explore broken, looped, and layered vinyl. Samartzis’s solo work focuses digital processing of acoustic and found sounds to construct abstract sound environments.
This 2003 release — part of Staalplaat’s Mort Aux Vaches series — contains three pieces that mix synthesized and natural sounds in unsettling and often jarring ways.
Variable Resistance (T1) begins with disorienting binaural clicks, slowly tweaked. The sounds come into focus, crisp and precise, but only briefly. Before long some comforting and reverb kicks in, and more natural noises appear. Echoey drips, gasps, and rasps, like wandering through dark wet steam tunnels with a faulty flashlight. Ends with the sounds of a rough pummeling and wailing, as the track skips and glitches to a halt. The CD is not broken.
Deconstructed Windmills (T2) is calmer, starting with a long high-pictched buzz, giving way to sterile pulses and tones, like hospital equipment. This is replaced with ominous thuds, algorithmic blips and bloops. Brief interludes of glitchy static puncture the overwhelmingly vast drones.
Soft and Loud (T3) draws the most on acoustic sounds and recordings. The first movement alternates between crunching, bending, scraping, screaming metal, and utter silence. Organic sounds like gurgling water and crinkling fire mix with synthetic sine wave drones. Low vibrations like bad fluorescent lights. Broken voices. Drum ratatatat. Some moments are actually musical, with rich harmonies and quick repetitive glimpse of a melodies, but there’s always something off — the instruments are not what they seem, almost a mirage.
These are two epic-length tracks, the first commissioned by Thomas Buckner and composed by Lockwood to showcase her vocalizations that call to mind shamanic chants with a large glass gong, wind, and a Cameroonian rattle, among other instruments. Track 2 records the voice of sculptor Walter Wincha, interviewed by Lockwood just over a day before he died at age 30. Interspersed with the interview are field sounds of running on a track. The entire experience is cathartic and mesmerizing.
Live recordings of two half-hour performances of improvised electronics and violin, released in 2000 by the New Zealand label Corpus Hermeticum (run by Bruce Russell of the Dead C). Lionel Marchetti is a French musique concrète/electronic composer who creates studio pieces and improvised live works. This release is an example of the latter, with Marchetti using microphones, tape recorders, radios, and loudspeakers strategically placed to complement the acoustics of the performance space. Jérôme Noetinger is also a French sound artist; both he and Marchetti were students of Xavier Garcia, and have been frequent collaborators since the early 90s. Here they are joined by violinist Mathieu Werchowski. The CD includes an essay from guitarist Michel Henritzi that casts the performances as radical acts: “two concerts that are imploding limits within which our listening is held by the dominant discourse of our market-led era.”
The Lille performance (T1) opens with a sweep of the tuner dial on an antique radio – sometimes the hint of a broadcast fades in for a moment through the static and woozy, theremin-like feedback. When Werchowski joins in, it kicks off an ongoing exchange between the violin and electronic sounds for a place in the foreground. His frantic, repetitive bowing builds into a fury; later, blares of microphone feedback, blotting out everything around it, dominate as Werchowski brushes on muted strings. An extended lull gives way to another build-up with long pulls of the bow on dissonant double stops and wild electronic chaos. The Turin performance (T2) has many of the same elements, but it is the darker and queasier of the two pieces, with high-pitched whistling and droning feedback creating a persistent tension. Intense listening.
This album is relaxing to listen to, especially when you consider how it is contains no overdubs, no edits, no anything except an artist and a rack, which is pictured in the poster. The sounds on here are perfect accompaniment for mind musing and expansion.
Julius Eastman was a black gay composer/vocalist in late 70s/early 80s New York, performing and recording with the New York Philharmonic and Meredith Monk and others. He suffered from mental illness, the super threw all of his stuff out on the street in ’81 and 9 years later he died in obscurity at a in Buffalo. Scholars have been putting the pieces together since then.
This concert was in 1974 in Albany. 12 or 15 performers memory is hazy. At the performance soup was served and Eastman wore a dress. A mechanism of Eastman’s invention plays sleigh bells for about 70 minutes. The vibraphone hammers out a motif that is expanded upon by the ensemble. In Eastman’s words, “the end sounds like Angels opening up heaven … euphoria.”
One long track 39m. Piano and a bunch of fumbling. Will make you think something is wrong with the car. About 38 minutes in a toy drum machine takes over. Noises. A plastic straw makes an ominous sound and brings the proceedings to an absurd finale.
Tanya Chen (Tender Buttons) plays piano, electronics, toys.
The liner notes have a picture of some salmon fillets and a microphone.
Zanshin is a collaboration album between the French experimental jazz trio Lena Circus and the Japanese trumpeter, flugelhornist, and perennial collaborator Itaru Oki, released 2016. The album moves back and forth between minimalistic noise and cacophonous noise, always with trumpet. Drums are an afterthought. Could be good bed music, but the textures are unpredictable tracks tend to crescendo toward the end. On the whole, only moderately interesting, somewhat lethargic, with passages of panic like Miles Davis unable to wake up from a heroin dream. Has two tracks over 10 minutes for bathroom breaks. Squirrels and farts here and there. If you do two takes of an experimental improvisational piece, do you have one track or two. Social Norm