Sunday, July 17, 2011
John Wall/Alex Rodgers - Work 2006-2011 (Entr'acte)
A fascinating release. A bit has been written on what a departure this is for Wall, but I'm not sure. I may have missed something along the way (I have five releases of his on Utterpsalm) but aside from the obvious prominence of Rodgers' voice, I hear it as a not too wayward extension of the previous works. Yes, it was constructed, laboriously one imagines though not so much as had been the case on earlier releases; built from improvisations but so had much of his music been before. It's pared down in terms of elements--just Wall and Rodgers--but much of his music had been as well, even if there were half a dozen contributors at a given moment; it tended to sound sparse and astringent.
Rodgers' texts are not at all improvised, though Wall seems to have taken liberties rearranging and editing them. From what I understand, the slight warping and other electronic effects imparted to his voice are of his own devising as well as having recorded into a cheap dictaphone, hence perhaps the up-closeness of his sound. Wall balances his own contributions equitably, Rodgers phasing in and out of a mix that's not all too unlike Wall's past work despite (one assumes) not be derived from the instrumental work of others and, as stated, having been improvised. It retains the silvery thinness heard before, a unique and beautiful sound-world; I've little doubt I would have recognized the music as Wall's in a blindfold test. I often visualize a think plate of copper or zinc, with various bumps, scratches and other "imperfections" arrayed across its softly gleaming surface. Rodgers, his words slurred, bitter and Beckettian adds just the right amount of soot...or suet. It really meshes perfectly, not foregrounded so much, more embedded.
While certainly episodic in construction (as can be seen here, the piece cleaves together seamlessly as a whole, a bleak cascade of shards and syllables, like little else you'll hear. An excellent recording.
(Erstdist should be getting them in shortly)
ErikM/Norbert Moslang - Stodgy (Mikroton)
I like the title. :-) And the music, if not stodgy, does carry a whiff of nostalgia, evoking those halcyon days of the early oughts when the rambunctious noise of cracked electronics with at least an implied rhythmic base could be exciting. In fact, these pieces stem from 2002-05 and do reasonably capture the spirit of Voice Crack, ErikM, Jerome Noetinger, etc. from around that time, the hurly-burly of a certain kind of sound that was at once rough but kind of...globular, the really harsh edges having been eroded away somewhat, perhaps midway between the truly severe and the area that would soon be explored by Gunter Muller and often released by For 4 Ears. It's aggressive, full, more or less non-stop, one of the motives being to establish a thick wall of sonics, a dripping mass of electronica propelled along by, as stated above, some sort of throb or pulse. I recall thinking that, at its best, this branch of music was a kind of guilty pleasure, a big gob of taffy to ameliorate the leaner (in a purely volumetric sense) offerings available elsewhere. I can still reach that frame of mind, though I grant that it's tougher these days; I think I've been largely sated by these particular flavors. Still and all, a representative and good sample of ErikM's and Moslang's work, doubtless to be highly enjoyed by their fans.
WPB3 - A Floating World (Mikroton)
I rather enjoyed the previous disc from WPB3 I'd heard, on Herbal International. It struck me that, at times, they approached an AMM-like sound world and accomplished this better than most. This effort, recorded in November 2008, doesn't quite get there for me. Nusch Werchowska (piano, objects), Mathias Pontevia (horizontal drums--I still don't know what differentiates them--, percussion) and Heddy Boubaker (alto and bass saxophones) seem to clearly intend to exist in that world--though perhaps they're sick of hearing it--but it's a tough row(e) to hoe. The use of space or, too often, the occupation of space, feels uneasy to me, as does the teetering into (forgive the overuse of the term) efi-y way of playing, the jazzy references (for example, the Cecil-ish piano at the beginning of the second cut. Indeed, this may be one of those bands where I'd rather the wholeheartedly went the avant-jazz route. Boubaker has a good tone, especially on bass sax, Pontevia seems to be a fine drummer out of the Lovens tradition--when they go all out in that direction, as they do later on in that same track, they're fine. It's that middle ground that's uncomfortable and hesitant. Perhaps I'm being too picky. Listened to in a more relaxed frame of mind, "A Floating World" is fine, cohesive and varied. It's just those damned glimmers of something more that gnaw at me....