Monday, July 21, 2008

Brendan Murray - Commonwealth (23five)

Every so often I hear a piece that brings to mind Harry Partch's wonderful line about his invented instrument, the Blo-Boy. "It does exactly one thing, but that one thing it does superbly." In many respects, that may not apply to Murray's "Commonwealth"--there's a good deal going on within the vortex--but one can imagine it sitting out there like a single, seething mass of sound. On the whole, there's a tonal feel to it, though trying to untangle the number of elements contributing to the skein is a fool's errand. If you enjoyed Murray's previous outings, this is a no-brainer. Good stuff, play it loud. 23five

Chop Shop - Oxide (23five)

Chop Shop (Scott Konzelmann) constructs an interesting "second remove" piece. Original tapes he recorded from already abstracted source material accidentally underwent extreme damage while in storage. Like any good post-Cagean, he took these "marred" tapes and investigated what the accident had wrought. The sounds themselves are fine, tending toward the dirty rumble and dull roar. The structure, though, strikes me as a bit...un-thought out, blandly conceived, blocky, I didn't sense a rationale for the disc as a whole (it's a single piece). Maybe doesn't matter, but it didn't convince me as a real entity as much as the Murray above.

BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa - Passing Out (Helen Scarsdale Agency)

I hadn't heard Stilluppsteypa in a few years and, as far as I know, I've never heard BJ Nilsen. This is their third collaboration but I had little more than vague expectations. Well, it subverted them. One track, some 68 minutes long, of quiet disquiet, brooding augmented field recordings (guessing), uncomfortable blistering, passive roiling. I gather the previous releases have referenced aspects of drinking in their titles as well. Not sure I make the sonic connection but never mind. The music isn't earthshaking in conception, simply extremely well executed and conceived, moving at its own unhurried pace, finding several surprises around the dark corners. Gets a little loopy at the 50-minute mark but overall, very nice. helen scarsdale

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