Saturday, January 29, 2011

New heap o' Cathnors, actually issued last year but, via snowstruck post, only arriving at chez Olewnick recently. Four 3" discs (the first four below) and two full-lengths

Cremaster - Igneo

Alfredo Costa Monteiro (objects on electric guitar electronics) and Ferran Fages (feedback mixing board, electromagnetic devices, radios, pick-ups) provide 20 minutes of fine, erm, sizzle. For much of the set, there's something of dialogue between pinging, high, near consonant tones (presumably guitar-sourced) and skittering explosions of harsh noise. Those tones cast something of a romantic shimmer over the music, almost Gothic; there are moments when one could easily see this being used as a (very effective) horror film soundtrack. Focus is held right along this line throughout, which is a fine strategy, allowing the listener to construct a relatively stable framework from which to appreciate the subtler elements that unspool minute by minute, the wavering timbres of the ringing tones, the odd subsonic throb, bird-like twitters, the juicy textural contrast between the general output of the two musicians, etc. Fages' (I'm assuming it's he) burst of noise strike me as very Roweian in character, possessing the proper degree of harshness to offset the plaintive aspect of Costa Monteiro's guitar. That yin/yang is present throughout makes for a good, substantial listen though it might also be said to provide something of a safety night. In this case, I think it works very well though, ideally, I might have liked an additional 20 minutes where they went for broke.

Manfred Werder - 2009 5 (realised by Will Montgomery)

(If there's a way to render that 5 in superscript, I'm not aware of it, sorry)

Werder's work has been the object of a certain amount of controversy in eai circles recently, especially pieces like this one where the score consists of a line of text, often extracted from a fictional work. Here, the author chosen is Francis Ponge and the text, in its English translation (from the French), reads:

There is, in a house I know well, an interior courtyard, and another, at Le Grau du Roi, each one {inhabited / , adorned} by one of two fig trees.

Taking the notion of two places, Montgomery recorded near "the northern and southern stretches of the M25 motorway", a road that runs the perimeter of London. Montgomery elaborates his thoughts on the piece and its recording in posts dated January 22 on this IHM thread--well worth reading.

I've gone on a bit before, trying to quantify why I like this field recording and not that one, to no real good effect, I'm afraid but, dammit, I like these very much! The larger part of what one hears is traffic, dense and aroar, no horns just engines and wheels on asphalt. It's thick, viscous, detail-rich, replete with hidden hums (boat horns?) that act as pedal points. The sole "adornment", on the first track, is the sound of birds, twinkling facets on this writhing mass. Really, just marvelous sound, especially when played at volume.

I'd love to hear this piece (or others like it) realized (or realised) by dozens of different people, curious to see if a common thread could possibly be discerned.

As is, a beautiful recording.

Daniel Jones - when off and on collide

A difficult 15 minutes this, and rewarding. Largely quiet but skittish, with the odd abrupt and loud accent, compiled via electronics of an unspecified kind. Near the beginning, it sounds like small motors activating scraps of metal, segueing into a lightly buzzing hum. By this point, some five minutes in, one expects something of a dronish nature to pervade. But then, sharp, highly abrasive pops and scrapes flutter into being, not all that far away from the sound-world limned by Rowe and Sachiko M on "contact". On colliding with off, perhaps. The music resides in this unsettling, prickly territory for the duration, the rattling motors beneath the dark, intense crackling. It's a tough, chewy little nugget, kind of tumbles by and is gone before you know it but worth a lick or two, probably more.

Neil Davidson - Do not send to Tweed

I'd thought I hadn't heard Davidson before but a tiny bit of research showed his membership in the Glasgow Improviser's Orchestra, whose disc on Creative Sources, iirc, I didn't enjoy at all. This solo acoustic guitar outing is perhaps busier than the norm around here but has its attractions. Davidson concentrates on the lower end of the scale, attacking what sound like loosened strings with objects I can only imagine, some maybe containing motors?, that generate sustained, very rough and growling drones. The strings often sound as though they're vibrating directly against the wood of the guitar. The assault is pretty much non-stop, with little concern for space or quiet and the attacks are varied. I think, as is my inclination, I'd have preferred a more concentrated approach, limiting the range of techniques and searching within those limits. I'd like to hear more obsession, in a word. As is, it's not bad but not so memorable for me. Great disc title, though...

Toc Sine - Drawings

Toc Sine (I can't help thinking of Tone Loc!) being Pascal Battus and Jean-Luc Guionnet, here both deploying "electric devices". And it's a very good one. Not that it's so easy to describe...eight tracks, tending toward the quiet, though there's a lot of activity. But there's always a feeling of consideration, of quasi-intentional choice, where a decision is made carefully even if the outcome is unsure. So, on the opening track, there are strata of hums, very delicate and delicious, over which sandier washes, deeper thrums and harsh crackles are laid; nothing earthshaking but the flavors chosen, the timing of their release, their dynamics and duration all work perfectly. It's also without over listener accommodation--there's nothing easy about this, few handholds offered, yet the pieces flow naturally and are extremely full. While I'm not certain what devices were actually used, the results fall into the "cracked electronics" area of, say, the Bonnie Jones type. As such, this is one of the better examples I've heard. Forgive my inability to further elucidate, just listen to the music.

Looper - dying sun

(This is in fact a co-release between Cathnor and Another Timbre)

The deep, rich drone as purveyed by Nikos Veliotis (cello), Martin Küchen and Ingar Zach (percussion). Not only drones but an overt ritualistic feel imparted shortly into the first of three tracks by the low, double beat on a large drum. The whole seems to me to be about breathing--deep, raspy rales at that. This has been a major part of Küchen's work recently, a very visceral, organic approach that delights in bodily sounds. That first track burbles along, largely below the surface, oozing through the soil now and again, echoing hollowly, the low tones shaking one's speakers; clearly something one would like to experience live in an appropriately resonant space. It's a purely sensual piece and, after a while, begins to cloy like an overdose of creamy chocolate. The next cut, "Hazy Dawn" (yes, the titles don't help)is made up of gongs and skittering strings but again, resides in a similar drone-y area, though its relative concision (9 minutes as opposed to the preceding 29) helps. Finally, "Near Eternity" takes things out on a high, shimmering drone, very pleasant but, again, as with the recording on the whole, I don't find enough to really dig into.

Of this half-dozen, Toc Sine, the Werder and, to a reasonable extent, Cremaster and Daniel Jones are the ones with staying power for me.

Another Timbre
Available from erstdist


Richard Pinnell said...

Hey Brian...

I imagined that you would enjoy maybe half of this batch, but it turns out you preferred the half I thought you wouldn't click with so well... nice to be surprised!

As for being able to imagine the objects used by Neil on Do not send to Tweed, just take a look at the sleeve...

Thanks for listening

Brian Olewnick said...

ah, the weights and such? The thought passed my mind...nice.

Happy I still retain the power 9however feeble) to surprise...

simon reynell said...

Surprising indeed. I often agree with your opinions, but your responses to these are almost the mirror image of mine, though of course the detail's not actually that neat. Nonetheless the two you like least are the two I like best, and the one you appear to like best I don't like at all.

All of which leads me towards two startlingly original thoughts that I am struggling to articulate, but have something to do with men, eyes, meat, beauty, poison and a beholder.

Brian Olewnick said...

Just to be clear, I didn't dislike any of them (and should have included Dan's in the summary, which I'll rectify in a moment), just that the Looper and Davidson disc left me unsatisfied in some basic way.

Barry chabala said...

the only one of this batch i have is dan's so far, and i really like it. obviously a big fan of his work - i agree... could have been much longer!