4 LP releases
Joe Colley - Disasters of Self (CIP)
A handsomely produced 3-LP box set with photo inserts. My experience with Colley's music is relatively minimal though I've tended to enjoy what I've heard both live and on disc. So perhaps, had I known more, I wouldn't have been so surprised at the fairly controlled and subdued nature of much of the music contained herein. Each piece feels self-contained, circumscribing a given area while allowing for transgressions of same. Field recordings emerge from rough (though quiet) electronics (as on Side 1), with a naturalness that's rather moving. Some tracks are crackly, some brooding (the opener of Side 3 is especially fine in that regard); there are locked grooves, something I've never quite understood the attraction of. And yet, overall, I find the work here only moderately satisfying; nothing uninteresting at some level, but not so much that really makes a strong impression, apart from that healthy commitment to single ideas in a given track. I get the idea that maybe seeing it live, at increased volume (or, more accurately, in the midst of the sound) would make a difference. As is, it's fine, moderately enjoyable, but that's all.
Ubeboet - Archival (Moving Furniture)
Ubeboet (M.A. Tolosa out of Madrid) offers three gentle, drone-backed works incorporating field recordings, not an uncommon territory these days but handled here with grace and subtlety, establishing a fine, dark mood. Side 1, "orange", is restrained and subterranean sounding, like taking a walk through an old water/sewer system, dull metallic echoes, watery reflections on dank, mossy walls. "melm" is fa spacier, probably to its disadvantage as its airiness doesn't quite find purchase and meanders into Eno-esque climes. The LP closes with "northern rain", in which a lovely, somewhat mournful and simple six-note melody (source unknown, sounds a little like altered strings) is embedded in, yes, rain and other sounds. Here, Ubeboet outdoes Eno at his own game, very lovely.
Alfredo Costa Monteiro - Cinq Bruissements (No Fun Productions)
From 2006, in which our stalwart hero continues his assault on that most abused of instruments, the accordion. I would have guessed that the title had something to do with bruising, but in fact "bruissement" means "rustling", a modest enough term for what transpires here. The essential accordion-nature is never too far from the surface actually, even if it's being bowed, struck or otherwise manhandled. As in many of his past releases, Costa Monteiro's basic, deep musicality permeates the material no matter how brutal it may seem. It's harsh, unrelenting, tough and very good. Even with all the extended technique, perhaps the most successful track is the most straightforward, the final one, where deep drones abut, tangle and lie atop one another, this one smooth, that one guttural, this steady, that wavering. A wonderful piece, again brimming with the sheer musicality that makes Costa Monteiro on eof the most engaging musicians around. A fine recording.
Jon Mueller - The Whole (Type)
You gotta give Mueller credit. Faced with the dilemma of what to do these days with a solo percussion project, he plunges straight into the rhythm, never looking back, bringing in all manner of influences, succeeding in making the music his own. The album is bracketed by two short pieces for hammered dulcimer, lovely, almost stately works with, in addition, a threatening rumble beneath. The remainder of side one is occupied by "Hearts", with a non-stop, propulsive drum rhythm interwoven with Mueller's processed voice (chanting, long tones, sounding to me as referring to Native American song, though I could be wrong) and jangly, tambura-like lines. One might compare it to some of Jason Kahn's work, though there's an earthiness at play, a visceral joy in the chant that one doesn't usually hear in Kahn. "Hands" leaps directly and forthrightly into a martial rhythm, the kind one might associate with marching bands, leavened with a repeated two-note dulcimer figure and talking drum (?). This then explodes into an even larger sequence of bass drum and splattering cymbals, evoking some triumphal cavalcade, pompous and fun at the same time. On this track, Mueller might just overstep a wee bit. But the dulcimer/drum cut that ends things is a joy.
If you're lucky, along with the vinyl you may find a CD containing Olivia Block's remix of "The Whole". Noe, inveterate readers well know my admiration for Block's work but, I have to say, her re-translation of Mueller's piece outdoes the original. She retains the essential rhythmic impetus and shards of the dulcimer (though the notes have been rearranged and separated in space) but truly concocts a piece of her own and a gorgeous one. Fantastic as the drums and dulcimer well in the final few minutes. You can see a video of a wonderful in-store performance of Block doing another remix version (less overt percussion) here