Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rebecca Joy Sharp & Simon Whetham - The Clearing (Gruenrekorder)

"Disarming" is a word that comes to mind, perhaps. A simple enough idea, elegantly manifested--record a harpist out in the environment, in this case bird-filled. The dangers are obvious and, I must say, my expectations were somewhat along Rhodri Davies lines as far as the likely music was concerned so that when I heard the decidedly melodic content and "standard" technique employed, I feared that the result would be overly cloying. I might say that it comes close to that sometimes but by and large, skirts that particular danger and ends up as a very enjoyable release. This is largely due to the reticence of Rebecca Joy Sharp (how many performer's surnames contain their chosen instrument?) as she, for the most part, leaves no greater a soundprint than the area birds (which make up the majority of the natural sounds). She plays delicate, tonal patterns--at times recalling Tilbury at his softest and most melodic, generally with a ruminative feel, advancing and receding in the flux. With one exception, her work seems to have been improvised, not imitating birdsong but attempting to blend in with it, just another bird. The exception is the fifth track where she plays a simple but lovely theme (her own, I expect, though I'm not sure), that reminded me a bit of the sort of thing Jarrett and Haden occasionally created in the mid 70s, as on the title track of "Death and the Flower". It's quite nakedly emotional, all the more enhanced when a strong rain shower breaks out toward the end. Some listeners, particularly hard core eai folk, might find it fey or faux naive but it won me over, softy geezer that I am.

A lovely recording.

Craig Vear - Aud Ralph Roas'le (Gruenrekorder)

A set of six field recordings, I guessing layered in from various locations though I've been wrong often enough about that before. They seem to be pure sounds, often aqueous in nature, with various manifestations of water churning against piers or boats or rocks or what-have-you. One often hears undercurrents of engines, low thrums that reverberate below the liquid, implying the earthen basin in which it lies. There's one violent track where, it appears, a massive storm erupts, overwhelming the recording equipment to a degree where distortion sets in. All of the pieces are crammed full, actually, somewhat agitative. In the end, though, they strike me as just thick, full field recordings. Not bad, but not commanding my attention or eliciting much fascination.

Petrolio - End of Vision (Gruenrekorder)

Petrolio is Luca Robba (drums, voice, laptop, samplings), Michele Spanghero (double bass, live electronics, field recordings) and Ugo Boscain (contrabass clarinet, piano), with Allen Scrigner appearing on the first two tracks, wielding "samplings". The music might be described as isolationist free improv in that a similar chill, bleak feel is in effect as was heard in more rockish contexts in the mid 90s (remember Scorn? Godflesh? God?). A subdued, slightly haunted mood is maintained pretty much throughout, the trio evincing and admirable restraint, but at the same time I found a certain dull sameness to much of the work and felt it lacked a spark or two and perhaps a few obstacles to surmount. Still, I'd be curious to hear more from them.

Strongly Imploded - Freefall (Gruenrekorder)

Yet another Italian trio, this time from Naples, with F. Gregoretti (drums), M. Gabola (reeds) and M. Argenziano (guitar, synth, electronics). After the claustrophobic feeling of Petrolio, the kind of scrabbling, old-timey (that is, reaching as far back as the 70s) approach heard herein feels open and, well, fun. Not that this sounds like a Bailey/Parker/Bennink trio--there's much more bottom, more oblique nods to metal and other rockish forms (perhaps even Last Exit)--but even at its darkest, there's a sense of the wide open. A severe grinding aspect is also often in play, the sounds seeming to be wrenched from the players' guts. If Caspar Brotzmann had a brother who hewed a bit more closely to his dad's ethos, he might be involved in a trio like this. Not my cuppa so much, but they do what they choose to do pretty well.

Personal pick of the bunch: The Clearing


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