Sunday, March 08, 2009
Dropp Ensemble - Safety (either/OAR)
Dropp broods. The Adam Sonderberg/Salvatore Dellaria-centered ensemble, here augmented with thirteen other musicians (full personnel listed here on four cuts with group sizes of three, six, eight and eight, tends toward dense, dark continuos containing layer upon layer of rich sound and they do that in spades here. Assembled by the pair from, I'm guessing, any number of performances, they manage to construct absolutely cohesive, convincing works; the four tracks totaling only a bit over a 1/2 hour feel like movements in a mini-symphony. The inclusion of instruments like bass clarinet and organ, which often hold long tones, is very moving, recalling some Gavin Bryars pieces from back in his prime. Really benefits from being played loud, exposing all the booming undercurrents; one of the fine points here, as in much of their work, is the sonic balance between the throbbing and the pointillistic or gritty. An excellent release, get it.
Jim Denley/Kim Myhr - Systems Realignment (either/OAR)
Denley (alto sax, flutes, electronics) and Myhr (acoustic guitar, "simple mechanics") here fashion capable free improv with a nod toward Australian native traditions, the latter not done overtly but more by passing references to the hums associated with the didgeridoo and dry, clattering sounds that evoke the skittering of birds and other desert fauna. Both possess an attractive clarity of sound, allowing a strong sense of spaciousness into the music at the same time avoiding many free improv routines. Myrh, who I've not previously heard, is an engaging guitarist, even more so (I get the impression) when he plays "straighter" as on a solo piece here, "Engraved and Suspended". Overall, a fairly enjoyable pathway trod between an efi-y approach and a more expansive one.
Isobel Clouter/Rob Mullender - Myths of Origin - Sonic Ephemera from East Asia (and/OAR)
When Dale from and/OAR wrote that he'd like to send me a couple of things, I asked about this disc since I'd been intrigued by Richard's mention of it recently. I'm pretty sure I'd never actually heard "singing sands" and maybe had only vaguely known about their existence period. Dale kindly obliged. The disc is a set of field recordings, the first three from Japan, the last six from China. The non-sand dune recordings don't do so much for me--I'm not sure to what degree they've been restructured but, aside from the attractiveness of the sounds themselves (which is fine) I don't pick up that extra dimension I've found in Tsunoda or, more recently, French. The dune experiences, however, are pretty amazing, even as you understand you're getting probably a hundredth the effect you would were you out in the field. Essentially, cascading waves of sand on these large dunes can set into action enormous resonance effects within the dune itself, sounding like the Earth is deeply thrumming. Even as is, you might not want to play this with your speakers too close to the shelf edge. Fascinating phenomenon, even if on disc it reads perhaps more as a cool science experiment.