Philip Glass “Music In Fifths/Two Pages” [Cantaloupe]

cujo   2/20/2006   CD

A sextet of Bang On A Can all-stars (bass, marimba, piano, guitar, cello, clarinet) take on two early Glass works.

Tr. 1: Music in Fifths (24:22): The ensemble tries to go up a musical staircase but can never get past the fifth step, no matter how often they start over, or where they start over from, or whether try try going backwards. Maddening.

Tr. 2: Two Pages (27:39): The ensemble tries to go up another musical staircase. This time, the staircase is missing the 2nd step, and they can never get past the sixth step, no matter how often they start over, or where they start over from, or whether they try going backwards. Maddening.

This music will try your patience. Slight edge in listenability goes to the latter piece. Credit must be given to our friends at Bang on a Can, who perform flawlessly and cohesively, a most impressive feat.

-Cujo, KFJC, January 2005
Note: After deciding/realizing that this music basically sucked, we didn’t add it to our library. But you can read my review anyhow.

Clogs “Lantern” [Brassland]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

A new CD from Clogs to help you in your everlasting quest to be enveloped by warm fuzzy blanket music. With the exception of the guy singing on the title track, this is an entirely instrumental album. After an opening guitar prelude (? la Bach), a lot of the music is pure atmosphere generated by melodica (all over), a softly thumping bass drum (track 2) ,arpeggiated guitar triads (all over), and piling layers of meters upon each other (tracks 3,5). There is a splash of synth/waves of soft fuzz production on tracks 7 and 8. The songs are most compelling, however, when the bassoon or violin/viola takes the foreground (3,4,7,11). It doesn’t hurt their cause that the bassoon is my latest favorite instrument. There are a few appearances of dancy rhythms that expand the album’s horizons a bit – ‘I’m thinking of the polyrhythms of track 5, the jaunty ending to track 8, and the bassoon-led Moroccan-inspired jam on track 11. The album closes with a solo piano meditation.

-Cujo, February 2006

Monosov Swirnoff “Seven Recorded Works” [Eclipse Records]

cujo   2/20/2006   12-inch, A Library

This CA duet of Ilya Monosov and Preston Swirnoff play 2 black sides of untitled almost-drones. Monosov lays down a creepy background on harmonica and/or hurdy gurdy. The hurdy gurdy I can expect to serve a greater drony purpose, but the harmonica? It takes a slightly twisted mouth to take all the joy out of that harp. On top of this, Swirnoff plays melodica, organ, and/or piano, picking out notes or compatible drones or tone clusters as their imaginations see fit. He is not above heading to the inside his piano to find the needed notes. Sometimes they switch roles, like on Side B track A when the melodica drones and Monosov plunks on both his instruments. But then again, sometimes they’re indistinguishable, especially between the melodica and harmonica. Sometimes three or four instruments are going at once; this was probably and hopefully achieved without overdubbing. Side B tends to be a bit more happening, what with the instrumental ambiguities on track A, the (relative) wealth of individual notes played on track B, and the industrial drone (with organ) on track C. Is there a narrative underlying it all? Unclear. Probably not.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Qbico U-Nite Bruxelles [coll] – [Qbico]

cujo   2/20/2006   12-inch, Jazz

From the fishies (that graced the cover of the Qbico New York concert album we added to the library a few months ago) to the monkeys (Brussels). This is a double LP release pressed on lovely two-tone vinyl of a concert produced by Qbico on April 8, 2004 in Brussels.

Side A starts with a lengthy double bass solo (full range meandering, high register exploration, a bit playful) by Alan Silva and concludes with a short percussiony pocket jam by the Finnish duo Lauhkeat Lampaat.

Things really start to take off on side B & C when the Vibracathedral Orchestra go for a lengthy walk in the park. Their piece is wonderful culturally-ambiguous drone that’s at turns asiatic, tribal, bagpiping, electric, rocking, and finally hypnotic.

On side D, the VO is joined by Lauhkeat Lampaat and pals Paul Faherty (alto sax) and Chris Corsano (drums). The result is a bursting jungle safari rock-drone that builds and ebbs in layers and complexity; Lauhkeat Lampaat’s inanity and Faherty’s wide wailing contribute the most here.

The actual recordings are a bit weak, as is the audience applause that follows all pieces.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

ultrasound & Acid Mothers Temple “In G” [Time-Lag Records]

cujo   2/20/2006   10-inch, A Library

Recorded at an Austin radio station at SXSW a few years ago, this is a half-cadencing collaborative homage to Terry Riley’s In C from ultrasound and the Acid Mothers Temple. Of course, this being a space-rocking pot-spinning physics experiment, the result bears practically no resemblance at all to In C (except for a token reference made around 4 minutes into side A). Mothers’ Higashi Hiroshi in particular gets a workout on the theremin, as does Cotton Casino on synth. They’re busy enough that the rest of the gang rarely gets more than a few moments of their own to shine, unable to bust out in fireworks of
their own. Printed on transparent 10″ vinyl with no markings whatsoever; unable to aurally distinguish a side A from a side B, I arbitrarily named the sides.

Side B: 11:00
Side A: 7:10

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

*March 18, 2006 edit: Apparently an anonymous staffer more discerning than I discovered which sides were actually A and B. Naturally, my assignments were wrong. I have corrected the references in this review.

Hilda Paredes “Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001” [Mode]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

Hilda Paredes is Mexican-born but London-based. This Mode CD features four recent chamber works that aim to channel her Mayan roots. Nothing here will raise your heart rate significantly and there’s no single melodic, harmonic, timbral, or rhythmic thread to latch onto; sadly this will keep the non-believers away.

Uy U T’an (14:54): The title track. The backbone of this string quartet is a Carter-like (Cartesian?) assignment of mutually exclusive voice and character to each instrument, but not as rhythmically restrictive. A challenge to get your ears on the same page as the players. I like the slithery pizzicato section starting around 9:30…

Cotidales (18:29): Piano quintet. More glissandos, trills, tremolos, mood. While less busy than the previous track, it’s more interesting. Predominantly high register piano writing. Turns into a race of sorts towards the end.

Ah Paaxo’ob (18:59): Large ensemble piece with undetermined goals. Could end at any time and I wouldn’t know the difference.

Can Silim Tun (11:30/4:40): For vocal quartet & string quartet. Contains a ‘fuck off? in Mayan… play at your own (low) risk? Features some interesting blends of choral & instrumental writing.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Untitled Songs: 49 Years from Gesang der Junglinge [coll] – (2005-1956) [Sirr]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

4th anniversary: linen
9th anniversary: copper
49th anniversary: young boys?

The Portuguese label Sirr has the bizarre idea to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Stockhausen’s pioneering work Gesang Der Junglinge. The selections come to us on 2 brown/grey discs (with a lovely WWI cover photo) from 21 different artists, most of them not strangers to our library. The original piece was a pioneering shortish work that explored stereo spatiality and seamlessly blended electronics with the voice of a boy reading a Bible text. You’ll have to trust me on this, or check SJPL or Stanford, because we don’t have it yet in our library (chop chop, Mr. Hunger!). The offerings are all ‘homages?. None of them take directly from the original, but all are shortish electro-acoustic pieces that try to include some of the drama, the effects, or the psychoacoustic manipulations. Most fall into the categories of manipulated text recitations or processed natural sounds – la The User or Jacob Kirkegaard. A few are just plain sinewaving drones. You’ll also note that none of them are abrasive.

I found the artists? individual notes for their pieces on the web. Though short, most of them are good at explaining what you’re listening to and why: http://www.sirr-ecords.com/cat/pdf2/untitled_notes.pdf

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Emmanuel Nunes “Quodlibet” [Naive]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

This CD contains one piece, Quodlibet, a huge and dense work for 6 percussionists on 28 instruments and orchestra written in 1990-91 by leading Portuguese composer Emmanuel Nunes. It’s called a quodlibet, but heck if I can’t identify any of the themes. Are there themes? For an excellent detailed walkthrough of the 12 tracks, check out Paul Griffiths? (esteemed writer about modern art music) liner notes – you can pick out a track with features to your liking.

But we’re missing something on this recording! 28 members of the orchestra and the 6 percussionists are actually constantly moving throughout the performance space (which includes the audience, back stage, up, down…). There’s an important sense of drama and space that isn’t reproduced on this CD (it’s only slightly stereo); along with attemptss of Ives? 4th and Henry Brant, recordings necessarily suffer a bit.

Luckily, the music survives well enough on its own. I don’t sense much of a change in mood throughout, but it’s thickly orchestrated with constant swells, outbreaks, and interruptions, most atonal, and the percussionists and harpists are kept very busy.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Lionel Marchetti “Knud Un Nom De Serpent (Le Crecle Des Entrailles)” [Intransitive Recordings]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

stream-of-consciousness musique concr’te

puzzling. disturbing. fascinating. masterful. mindbending. eartwisting. unpredictable. hysterical. French.

Shamanism, drumming, chanting, laughing, shrieking, citations, recitations, Africans, whisperings, primates, crackling, spinning Asian radio dials, airplanes, bathtubs, ‘Kill me!’s, exorcisms, contact mics, ravens, laughing (or is it crying?), gamelan, Bach, Tuvans, screeching, scraping, didgeridoos.


-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Evan Ziporyn “Typical Music” [New Albion]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

Whaddaya know, Bang On A Can’s clarinettist and de facto ringleader writes music, too.

Pondok: A four-part piano suite that’s altogether simplistic, almost to the point of being childish. In Part I, you get a distinctly American Ives?-Alcotts-play-the-blues sound. Part II features nervous energy, a monotone pulse in the bass, and distinct low, middle, and upper register writing. Part III features high register piano zithering and sustained chords exploiting the harmonic series. Part IV is a galloping conclusion to the suite, the most BOACish. Played by the reigning queen of brand spanking new American piano music, Sarah Cahill.

Piano Trio – Typical Music: Unashamed combination American sounds and harmonies and integration of minimalism into ye olde piano trio. Medium pace 1st movement; minor modes, multimetric hemiolas, and harmonics permeate the 2nd movement; parallel 5ths (gasp!), some nervous energy, more clearly American/blues sounds in the final movement.

Ngaben (for Sari Club): Mix of gamelan and chamber orchestra. The gamelan is used more as an orchestral instrument than the rhythmic powerhouse you ethnomusicologists love so much. The piece is one long ominous crescendo, a fierce climax around 6:45, and a slow decrescendo into nothingness. Definitely more interesting than this description.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Kitty Brazelton “Chamber Music for the Inner Ear” [Composer Recordings Inc]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

Kitty Brazelton is a busy New York music maker; in our library we’ve already got one CD from a previous project Dadadah and her ‘What Is It Like To Be A Bat?’. Here’s a collection of 1990s compositions.

Come Spring! (24:25 in 4 movements): is funnest piece on the CD. It’s a totally dadabeboperrific suite for brass quintet. Wallow in the 1st movement’s brass sound, the tuba-owned 2nd movement, 3rd movement is a prayer sandwiched by jazz riffs.

R (6:13): Alien scat/Beat for violin, guitar, voice, bass, and bongos. The vocal part (sung for Kitty) sells it for me.

Sonar Como Una Tromba Larga (10:34): Trombone & post-recorded mellow electronic wash. There’s a rhythmic middle section that straddles the line between a pop song’s ‘break? and good old weirdness: extended breathing techniques, clinking and clanking – it gradually expands and builds to an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion.

Called Out Ol? Texas (7:32): A ‘comprov? based on 4 symbols for alto sax and cello. See the liner notes; symbols 3 and 4 are immediately apparent on listening; 1 and 2 flew over my head. The two instruments begin by trading short two-note barbs at each other. Then Sax has a long melody phrase. Then cello has an even longer meandering melody. They go back to trading barbs. They wind up in more or less unison fashion, with melodic fragments that remind of R a bit. Cello seems a bit weak… or did it just get assigned the weaker symbol bits?

Sonata for the Inner Ear (23:18 in 3 movements): Octet ‘sonata? for the California EAR unit. The 1st movement, Exposition, is a compressed high-energy ABA piece with fast rhythmic drive, drum set backbone, a quiet bass clarinet middle section, and cascading sextuplets. The 2nd movement, Development, is a series of semi-notated improvisation passages for (in order): drum kit, violin, bass clarinet, organ, unison drums & marimba (wow!), cello, and a final calming flute (with Kirk-ish flute-whistling!). The 3rd movement, Recapitulation, begins with a sampler solo (of EAR outtakes), recalls some of the more frenetic portions of the Exposition (what part of Sonata don’t you understand?), and it’s tutti all the way to the finish.

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Christian Rainer “mein braunes blut” [Bar La Muerta]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

From a German expat in Italy, some musically uncomplicated melancholy operatic chamber music and funereal laments. There are probably a lot of comparisons that can be made, but heck if ‘I’m the guy to do it (the internet seems keen on Rachel’s). The first two tracks are preferred; the rest get on my nerves after repeated listens.

1. unten die v’gel (7:01): Translates to ‘under the birds.’ violin wails; soprano wails; trumpet joins in at climax.
2. m.b.b. (4:11): The title track is another lament, but more focused on the ensemble. organ/synth rounds off the low end. no soprano.
3. ein dumpfer klang (3:33): ‘a duller sound? Soprano returns for another ensemble lament. The music’s a bit irritating/sophomoric on this track.
4. endlich winter (4:57): ‘endless winter? Song for soprano and piano; she doesn’t have a very interesting part, but it works OK.
5. I.8 E min (9:15): Stark solo piano. Sort of improvised feel. Uncanny similarity to Yann Tiersen’s Am’lie soundtrack (though Rainer assures me it well predates Am’lie).

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Wolfgang Fuchs (with Evan Parker and Jean-Marc Montera) “Bits & Pieces” [FMP]

cujo   2/20/2006   A Library, CD

Fuchs goes hog wild at the extremes of the reed family (sopranino sax & contrabassclarinet). For the 2nd half of the album, he invites Evan Parker (should need no introduction) and guitarist Jean-Marc Montera (we’ve got one of his FMP CDs) for two duets each. This disc submits strong evidence towards the emancipation of everything you hold dear in traditional musical instrument implementation: form, pitch, timbre, meter, melody… It is both brutal and exciting.

Bits & Pieces: 1 man evokes helicopters, high-frequency power lines, low-frequency power lines, chickens, overtones, and trills
Vocal Transfer: some over-dubbing: Wolfie recites the German vowels over whirlwinds & drones & chirps.
Cats On A Hot Tin Roof: Parker is incessant.
Earuption: Incessant squeaking by both Parker and Fuchs. Electric.
P’che Sonore: The guitar sounds ominous. Practiced balance between clarinet & guitar.
In Coda Al Treno: drony and insecty.

Give Us Us Free!

-Cujo, KFJC, February 2006

Jon Balke and the Magnetic North Orchestra “Kyanos” [ECM records]

cujo   2/11/2006   CD, Jazz

Very very cool jazz from pianist Balke and his Scandinavian septet. “Kyanos” means “blue” in Greek, and this record makes me wish I chain-smoked and lived in basements flooded with blue light. It’s an 11-“movement” jazz suite that’s relaxed, restrained, and so in control that it almost seems like the movements track into each other. Very soothing, even when they insist on drawing unusual sounds from their instruments.

-Cujo, June 2004

Ann Arbor likes tracks 3,4,8,9

George Crumb “Voice of the Whale” [Black Box]

cujo   12/15/2005   A Library, CD

Excellent CD of music by the highly esteemed Philadelphia-based composer George Crumb (b. 1929).

Makrokosmos Book I – Twelve Fantasy-Pieces after the Zodiac for Amplified Piano (1972)
A landmark piece in exploring sonic opportunities available to a pianist, upstaging Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes and blowing anything Cowell wrote out of the cosmos. The title undoubtedly refers to the Bartok piano masterpiece Mikrokosmos, but resembles it only in scope and ambition. Crumb’s labyrinthian score (a work of art unto itself) requires the pianist to play, plink, plunk, prepare, whistle, wail, and amplify (and at one point pour glass marbles into it). The performance grows out of a gloomy primordial ooze and turns into a deeply spiritual cosmic meditation for listener, with frequent allusions to Messiaen and a few other familiar sounds. A tremendous recording by Andrew Russo of the first of the four Makrokosmos books. DJs, be careful with your levels, there are frightening leaps of volume.

For a glimpse of the gorgeous score to part 12, Spiral Galaxy [Symbol] – Aquarius, visit:

A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 for piano (1980)
With its nativity theme and Rugglesian insistence on particular chord clusters and their colors, Messiaen is again brought to mind, especially in the opening and closing movements (refer to the Vingt Regards). This piece is played almost entirely on the keyboard (exception made for the hanging, frozen-in-time Canticle), but this gives Andrew Russo more opportunity to show off a wider range of his pianism, notably the wooden sound he achieves in the Nativity Dance.

Vox Balaenae (1971) (‘Voice of the Whale?)
In 1969, Crumb was inspired to write this piece after hearing a recording of whale songs. He doesn’t attempt to just represent them onomatopoeically, but instead transports you to their realm. You are immersed in the icy waters, at unsupportable pressures, and serenaded by amplified flute, cello, and piano. There is a visual aspect to any performance that can’t be registered on CD: the performers are wearing black masks and the stage is bathed in deep blue light. Conchord (the performing trio) probably didn’t bother for this recording. The piece opens on a whalesong flute cadenza, where the flutist sings while playing (is there a word for this technique yet? kirkifies?). For the middle section (apparently a theme and variations), time flies by as you sit entranced, listening to harmonic glissandos and aeolian strums and breathy fluting. You don’t even notice time has passed until the majestic finale ‘Sea Nocturne (…for the end of time)? begins, in a sudden wash of B-major tonality. The effect is enhanced by the cello’s B-F#-D#-A scordatura, and when they begin to play the crotales as well, you are launched to whale heaven in music that recalls Takemitsu and the finale of Gubaidulina’s ‘Canticle of the Sun?. Compare to the old Columbia recording on vinyl that we have!

A website with details on preparation and performance of Vox Balaenae:

For more music inspired by whales, see also:

Laurie Anderson’s ‘Songs and Stories from Moby Dick?
Alan Hovhaness? ‘And God Created Great Whales?
Ludmilla Ulehla’s “Elegy for a Whale” (1975)
John Cage’s “Litany for the Whale” (1980) — maybe?

Got more? Add them to the comments section!

-Cujo, KFJC, November 2005

Domenico Guaccero “Da Cantare: Opere Vocali 1951-1983 (To Sing: Vocal Works 1951-1983)” [die Schachtel]

cujo   12/15/2005   A Library

Domenico Guaccero (1927-1984) was a major player in the Italian avant-garde scene who has most unfortunately fallen into obscurity. He rubbed elbows with just about everybody including Nono, Curran (who lived in Rome for a while), Rweszki, and Morricone, Cage and the Darmstadt crowd, and founding seemingly dozens of electronic/computer/tape music studios and performing ensembles (e.g., Musica Ex Machina). His compositions derive mostly from aleatory, electronic, spatial, and improvisational techniques, you will find nothing conventional about his scores. Care for an example? See the album’s front cover (printed with nice silver leaf on white cardboard) for an excerpt.

CD 1 contains the choral works, and CD 2 contains the works for soloists, and the singers sing outstandingly. Most of these performances are live recordings from 3 Roman new music festivals and from his 60th anniversary concert, all in the 1980s. Coughs and shuffling permeate the recording, but still, the audiences are super well-behaved: ‘I’m telling you, Europeans are so much more open to new music. Glossa, Tre Melodie, and Casa Dell’Armonia are recommended for beginners. This 2-CD set is one of 500 etchings from the Milan electro-acoustic enthusiasts Die Schachtel (‘the box?) – check out recent Schachtel KFJC adds from Grossi, Sacchi, Zuccheri, and Insieme Musica Diversa.

Rot: Apparently the masterwork here, but probably because it’s the only Guaccero work to ever have been released (30 years ago on vinyl). The only track here with electronics. An entirely precomposed/recorded work, this a live recording of its 2nd ever performance, where they resurrected the tape (with electronics that Alvin Curran helped to record) and added singers to interpret the score. I think there’s also a theatrical/visual aspect to this piece that we can’t hear.
Kardia: A seemingly straightforward choral work for 8 mixed voices. While still unintelligible, there’s a lot more semblance of a text than in Casa Dell’armonia.
Casa Dell’armonia: 24 women singing an actual text (or so indicates the liner notes), but you could have fooled me. Moaning, wailing, whooping, sailing, shushing, solo tirades, in and out of unison, almost entirely vowel sounds.
Il Sole E l’Altre Stelle: A bass drum quietly beats out a slow heartbeat. A female soloist and female chorus sing a collage of Bibbia, Pinnochio, and the Divine Comedy.

Cinque Canti Da Tasso: Five songs for soprano and piano. The singer leads, and the piano seems to answer. Most challenging writing for the soprano is on these tracks.
Un Hombre: Not quite vicious but certainly not a complacent thunderstorm for soprano and prepared piano. The meteorological imagery brought to mind might be the result of this CD’s most emotional interpretation of his pictographic scores. Now doesn’t that sound academic.
Tre Liriche Di Montale: An excellent example of how atonal, experimental songs (these 3 for soprano and piano) can sound very lyrical, almost post-Romantic. Perhaps it is not surprising that this an earlier (1951) work, before most of his late-50s Darmstadt education.
Glossa: After an extended prelude, a woman launches a scathing sarcastic whooping spoken-singing-guttural English text by Sonia Sanchez ‘praising? American virtues (the only intelligible track here, unless you speak avant-Italian or latin). A surprising track and perfect for those feeling disenfranchised by our government.
Tre Invenzioni: The densest orchestration presented here: soprano, piano, and horn. 3 short pieces, the pianist heads inside the piano for some of his interpretations.
Da Cantare: The audience favorite, solo baritone with an excellent voice sings two solo songs.
Tre Melodie: An intriguing, exciting combination of soprano and timpani. 3 leaping, rumbling pieces.

Website for the Guaccero archive for further information on the man: www.guaccero.it

-Cujo, December 2005

The Kryonics “The Kryonics” [Emanem]

cujo   12/15/2005   A Library, CD

Could this Jon Rose project smell as sweet by any other kryogenic name? Rose formed this trio of string players in 2000 in Berlin and recorded this totally improvised, thermally-challenged album on a septet of instruments. In the middle is bassist Matthias Bauer. On stereo left is Aleks Kolkowski and on stereo right is Rose, both playing an array of instruments from the violin family, including the historical footnotes the Stroh violin (Are we witnessing a renaissance for this violin designed for the earliest, non-electric days of recording? It has also grated its way into recent Tom Waits records), the one-stringed Stroh, the tenor violin, and the violinof’n (see liner notes for brief descriptions).

The result is some hardcore stringstrumental free music making, very intimate and nowhere near the kind of theatrics of the Rose we already have in the library. With such an unusual line-up, an emphasis on effects might be expected, and great examples are found on tracks 4 (extreme scraping that verges on string skronk) and 8 (stroharmonics). Upon careful listening, though, they transcend ‘mere? exploration at times, notably the sense of desperation achieved on track 7.

3 Word Review: Freezer-burned catgut

Could any staffers/listeners chime in to let me know where else to find the Stroh in our library?

-Cujo, December 2005

Claudia Quintet “Semi-Formal” [cuneiform]

cujo   12/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Happiest album I’ve reviewed to date, which doesn’t necessarily make this a happy album. There is a very warm lineup of instruments split among the five members: accordion, vibes, percussion, bass/guitar, horns, clarinet, and keyboards. But don’t be misled by the apparent fuzziness: inbetween leader/drummer John Hollenbeck‘s busy and thickly orchestrated/improvised jazzrock jams (tracks 2 (beware phone message intro), 4, 7, 9sorta, 10eventually, 12), they play themselves into some trance-like episodes, as if they all wandered off daydreaming in Ms. Ellsworth’s 10th grade English class. This ‘narrative? 3rd album from Claudia Quintet is heavy on the atmosphere, and solos and spotlights are very evenly shared among the players.

Like walking aimlessly through fluffy pastel cobwebclouds.

Members Drew Gress (bass/guitar) and Chris Speed (clarinet/sax/keyboards) found elsewhere in the library if you like their stuff.

-Cujo, November 2005

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words “11 Instances of Dead Letters + Words” [iDEAL]

cujo   12/15/2005   A Library, CD

The artist is actually one Swede named Thomas Ekelund (found oh-so-briefly in our library on an iDEAL sampler collection). This is a carefully crafted album of bleak metallic, mechanical recorded sounds thoroughly processed and looped through his computer, with the slightest touch of Eno-ish musical tones. The result is a shining example of the ambient/electronic ?lowercase? genre (I think), where emphasis is placed on empty spaces, quiet sounds, and introspective moods. The found sounds are heavily processed so as to sound a bit muffled, distant, fuzzy, or covered in felt. When I mention submarine engine sounds below, it’s as if they’re heard from an enemy submarine trailing 500 yards behind. Try not to get stuck deconstructing the all looping, sampling, processing, and the stereo effects, and just let the album wash over you. All tracks are distinct but may track together. This is definitely rainy day music.

1. Tell Laura I Love Her. (5:12): pulsing electronic hum.
2. Realign, then fall (2:10): a teacher grades math exams. paper shuffling and pencil scribbling, looped by a very keen ear.
3. A list of things (1:05): light metallic beating. someone watches you from a creaky rocking chair.
4. The hills are alive (6:10): metallic blocks of filtered found sounds delivered in stereo, almost melodious.
5. Settling dust (4:54): tinkering in the tool shed, metal strings get pulled taut. background activity is heard through covered ears.
6. Motions of inanimate objects (3:57): more tool shed tinkering, this time the foreground has a more pneumatic emphasis, or maybe it’s scraping.
7. Wires of Oh Dots (7:29):subterranean
8. Bird, Broken (2:34): someone in the next room has labored breathing. in the other room someone is trying to pick out a melody on the piano.
9. Dread (7:20): metallic washboard foreground, submarine engine whirring background
10. Last Words Anywhere (2:24): busiest track. stereoactive chorus of jackhammers.
11. Dead Letters Spell Out Alive (6:55): peaceful closing track, lethargic waves of slightly screechy metallic fuzz.

-Cujo, December 2005

Cornelius Cardew “Material” [Hat Hut]

cujo   12/15/2005   A Library, CD

Before he was killed in a hit-and-run in 1981, Cornelius Cardew was an English Maoist composer creating his own cultural revolution and writing entirely utilitarian, approachable music (see his ‘We Sing For The Future? CD in our library, and the assorted political compositions spread in collections). Before that little red book rocked his world (c. 1970), he was known as a powerful experimenter and improviser, and a favorite Cologne student of Stockhausen. Cardew, in full-on Cageian mode, seriously seriously blurs the line between composer and improviser. You may also know Cardew from his creations the Scratch Orchestra and AMM.

This 1 CD in a simple cardboard sleeve from Hat Hut has 5 tracks:
1. Autumn 60
2. Treatise (pages 21 and 22)
3. Memories of You
4. Material
5. Octet ’61 for Jasper Johns

The performers take their sweet time interpreting these exquisite graphical scores (I taped a too-small example to the case). Treatise is essentially an intricate 200-page picture book, an acknowledged masterpiece by those in the know. We are treated to an interpretation of pages 21 and 22. Performances of all 5 pieces are very distanced and spaced out, with never more than a three instruments playing at a time. Low volumes throughout. Very out there. Gravedigger material for sure. Nearly featureless throughout (slight exceptions made after multiple listens for the human reading on Treatise, the piece of paper getting waved on Memories of You, and the hearing-test frequency sine waves on the Octet).

-Cujo, December 2005

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