Bubble-wrapped in dub textures, a dense sound that seems to
exhale and inhale in a variety of ways. In through the
sitar, out through the accordion…in through the electronic
iron lung, out through the trumpet. Time spent in mixing and
maximimizing the inputs of the 16 listed contributors has
muddied the tracks somewhat to a sonic equivalent of brown,
but brownian music may just be this year’s techno black. I
actually dug the spikes and clashes of “Real Hair” more,
but this is a murky, surprisingly beaty album at times with
a lot of hues to it. At its best it approaches a sort of Art
Ensemble of Electronica. The abundance of synthesizers here
is never smart-bomb precise, never cold and calculated, but
warm and more arbitrary. The vocals are more confident and
torchy when they appear, which is not often enough! “Slits
Arandas” is one hell of a journey with prominent hornplay.
“Autotelic” ends just as its seems ready to launch into an
interesting guitar-led phase. I’m unsure how many of the
sweet 16 still live in the same house in Portland, OR but
it must be a comfy place. The more you listen to this, the
more you will feel at home with it.
Bubble-wrapped in dub textures, a dense sound that seems to
Pre-Rassan flute frenzy… Kirk as accustomed to blowing many
minds at a time as he was accustomed to playing 2 or 3 saxes
(or flutes) at the same time, relaxes and struts here with
a sweetheart of an album. Still there’s some fierce blowing,
from shrill squeals, to raspier reed-rattling. His breathy
grunts and choked chuckles are all mic’d up tight…and you
can hear him singing right on down and out the holes. Bobby
Moses drops in on some tracks with vibes that work so well
with the flute… One track, “Fugue’n and Alludin'” is gone
too quickly but the title track with Miss C. J. Albert
harmonizing along with them both is hauntingly captivating.
The short solo from Kirk on that begs to be turned up loud
to catch every nuance of sound that this blindman could pull
out of the dark center of a flute (or a sax or a trumpet or
an unique horn made just for him…but here he is confined
to flutes). The music box of “Ruined Castles” pitches an
almost gamelan shadow and that tinkering (Moses?) lingers
on into “Django” before the piano and bass take over and
we get a more standard combo toe-tap tour. Kirk’s exhaled
his last in 1977, but this 1964 album still breathes fine.
Quiet Griot? Gorgeous voice from this daughter of Mali. She
also accompanies herself on guitar throughout (and evidently
was guided by Ali Farka Toure), but the string instrument that
stands out is the ngoni. It sounds like a lighter, more fluid
form of harp (as played here by Andra Kouyate). It does some
of that gnawa halwa tight picking, which fits in so well with
the bevy of percussion on most tracks. So the music sort of
flicks along, while her voice just floats. She dubs in a lot
of the background vocals, and thus it really does sound like
one mind singing through many mouths. #8 is the most wistful
ballad, too sad for drums. The “kids” from Kronos turn up on
the #5 and #10 but end up taking her voice out of the sonic
wild, and those pieces end up feeling a tad less inspiring.
Note #10 stops at 6:09 in, hidden track starts at 6:57
From this you would almost expect every track to be to
a different film. Extremely broad in sonic scope. Not
that much classic Ribot stagger guitar (check “House of
Mirrors”), but some good carney sounds (“Nausea”, is
that a calliope?), a little industrial robo-spy rivet
fest (“Prowler”), and “Green Party” (#12/#22) sounds
like an FM/AM tribute to “Love and Happiness.” Many
times we are left wanting more (especially on “Miles
Behind”) but “The Persistence of Memory” does get a
chance to stretch its legs and our ears, that track
sounds like an attempt to tunnel through the planet.
More costume changes here than a pop diva, and none
of the artifical drama.
Horton hears a Hoosier. Indiana idiot savant rock. This
is a follow-up to an album we don’t have…..yet. Yeah,
the vocals are whiny, but the guitars are even whinier!
Spastic tweaky rock, if the first cut doesn’t win you
over (“I Can’t Survive Without My BeatBox”) as it did
me, then move on I guess. But you’ll miss one of the
more engaging 40 seconds of art rock ever wrought on
“Yeah, Right”. Doppler vocals on that are keen. Overall
Mike Anderson’s vocals made me think of “Hong Kong
Phooey” as much as Beefheart or Pere Ubu. I prefer it
when these horses stampede rather than the couple of
cuts that canter…overall good bent guitar, twisted
lyrics and Anderson’s pretzel mouth (often murmured
along with by the others.) Crowd applause at the end
of some tracks seems stapled on? Language on #5.
Third sublime installment in the audio odyssey from Alan
Bishop. He always records radio when travelling. Alan
provides editing by both dialing live for displacement
(#7’s great start) and computer cutting after the fact
for crash comparisons. Unlike the first two releases,
this is pretty much radio collage. Sometimes he lingers
on a flavor (like Sundanese sounds on #1) other times
it’s a blast of Radio Nacional. We get everything from
underwater gamelan stylings (#5 2 minutes in or so)
to another weird soap operatic drama that ends with
a captivating double-vocal chant on #3 about 5 minutes
in to westernized commercial sounds, check #4 about 4
minutes in (cool chime rinses). #4 is probably my
favorite, there’s a karate chop section of state-run
radio that seems like a noise outing, very odd broken
spoken sections, and ending that’s extra-terrestial.
Solid noise on #7 as well. Cheesy metal at the onset
of #6, Bon Scott alive and in exile? That cut is
amazing too, with gooey banter between DJ’s. Pretty
much a grab bag, most radio collage in the US and
UK is played for laughs (People Like Us, Wayne
Butane). This really is different, and rewarding.
Wired – Free Improvisation (MYA – Europe)
Legendary free music release on Deutsche Grammophon, recorded between 1970-73. Gtr-org-bs-perc-elec combine spontaneously, transporting you to a destination of sonic bliss. A rather consonant free music exploration of the acoustic analog variety with smart electronics in supporting role. Not afraid of space, the quartet’s delicate communications interchange and disperse with timeless agility. Rare moments of clash mark climax and redirection that is woven into a fabric of sonic wonder. Subtle yet powerful- Dense yet never cluttered. Final recording opens with war sirens to marvelous dramatic effect. Ranta collaborated with Harry Parch, Bottner played in Stockhausen’s ensemble, Lewis studied under Dvorak and Plank is considered among the premier German producers. This document is the work of masters in an offering to the Gods – and the Gods looked down and smiled.
Wadada Leo Smith – Light Upon Light (Tzadik)
A fucking masterpiece of sophisticated psychedelia that transcends being a hybrid of jazz and classical. Dreamy, transporting tones wind and mesh through space as a sonic counterbalance. (3,5) Trumpetronics, (1,2,4) String pieces. (3,5) Toshinori Kondo’s ‘Nerve Tripper’ sound – beats + master composer’s awareness of passages’ natural spaces = Wadada Leo Smith ! Proof left to the listener as an exercise. (1,2,4) Similar to Once Festival material (see Tyke), searching phrases unfolding clusters, mid and low-register cello sound, intense minor key stuff but not dark. Stravinsky/Bartok moves with an AMM sense of space, very powerful yet subtle. (4) is like a psychedelic symphony only with a small ensemble. (3) gets to Japan psych chant rock spaces but from an African jazz point of origin.
Sixes – Organ Cuts
Not chainsaw stuff ! Soundscapes from the noise quadrant. Reminds of early Merzbow (singles, Rainbow Electronics) bu with more continuity, less dense and less harsh. 2 tracks about 30m each but with 8-10 m passages in each. (1) Noisetronics / sirens, wind, tracers-vapors of notes / merzbow under tuvan influence, note factory stuff. (2) organ treatments, minor key stuff / minimalist handsaw, tronix bikers / galactic awareness through better electronics.
Robert Montoya – Robert M (Accretions)
A dialectical synthesis of drone and beats with timing that is resolute yet spacey and textures that are synthetic yet lush. Anomalous and amorphous soundscapes (like euro-movie soundtracks at the moment of denouement) give a feeling of train travel through a foggy mountainous landscape. Montoya compiles sounds from television and layers them into soundscapes that transcend the medium and consciousness altogether. Tio Mate (5) is a compelling piece of pulsing soundwaves under Burroughs soundbytes. Sinestre (2) is a sonic colossus that attempts to communicate with other forms of intelligence – let them know you get the message- Play the shit out of this !
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