Saturday, July 04, 2009

Nicholas Szczepanik - The Chiasmus (basses frequencies/sentient recognition archive)

This disc is bracketed by two very brief but extremely loud and harsh bursts of electronic noise, as though Szczepanik was marking out territory for future use, even if the bulk of the music contained herein resides in the general area of complex dronage as heard in the work of Richard Garet, Asher and others, where there's often much more occurring than meets the ears at first blush. He'll intertwine textures that set each other off well (a rich hum with a scratchy, airy whoosh, say), underlie them with a pulse that's more sensed than heard and then elaborate the edges with other colors; these last are the ones it takes me a while to realize are there but, once picked up, add immensely to the overall picture. As ever, those choices are key. While always well-crafted, certain options can veer things toward the bland, as happens for me on "The Silhouettes of a Winter's Sunset". But by and large, Szczepanik skirts these dangers and fashions piece that are both immediately enticing and repay deeper listens. The final cut, "Lose Yourself...", by all rights should have been exhausted several minutes in but, at the end of its 19, I found myself still discovering new relationships between sound layers; can't ask for more. Curious to see where Szczepanik goes from here, especially given those two warning flares.

szczepanik (the disc arrives with a 16-pages booklet of quite complimentary photos by Avery McCarthy)

Y.E.R.M.O. - Collision Zone (Idiosyncratics)

Y.E.R.M.O. is Yannick Franck and Xavier Dubois (with additional drumming from Jason van Gulick. It's mastered by James Plotkin; I might not have thought of OLD without that prompt but once triggered, you can hear something of an affinity. Five tracks, though presented as a single work, it hits the ground running, pounding away like a roaring flood through a narrow tunnel, reverberating, scouring. In the third section, some acid-tinged guitar intrudes inevitably (for me!) summoning "An Index of Metals", but lending a more rockish air to the piece, the drums forming a more regular rhythm (á la Branca), something I'd rather not have had surface. A couple of times, it billows out into a less ruthless area, though still smoky and troubled. Not really my cuppa, but for aficionados of 90s Isolationism (with maybe a nod toward Godspeed!) and extensions thereof, Y.E.R.M.O. delivers the goods.

Hapsburg Braganza - Hatchling (Idiosyncratics)
Phil Begg weaves sounds derived from acoustic instruments and field recordings into a rather enchanting warp and weft. He uses many rubbed sounds, creaking door-type, layered into soft ringing, gentle water lapping, odd muffled buzzes like alarm clocks under a pillow and much more. He dwells overlong in some areas, as in a harmonium/water "duo" midway through, though the harmonium drone eventually seduces. Still, the complex interplay heard at the piece's inception isn't quite maintained throughout so that by the quiet birdsong at the end, I'd drifted away a bit. Which perhaps is intended.

Phil Maggi - Blue Fields in Paramount (Idiosyncratics)

From the back cover, I expected something like a series of songs and, in a way, that's what it is, except that the songs are formulated from a recombination of field recordings in and around Zagreb and samples from various musics, local and otherwise, transformed into a cinematic kind of soundscape that recalled, for me, the work of Benjamin Lew, but with greater urgency. It's a fine line in this type of project between mere exoticism and unearthing some new connections but more often than not, I found myself buying into Maggi's concoction. He keeps his foot on the repetition pedal a bit long toward the end of the disc, finding a Riley-esque groove he enjoys, but the disc is overall a not unpleasant wallow.


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