Friday, July 05, 2013


Lao Yang - Untitled (Subjam)

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this isn't the first time, in world history, that a saw wheel has come packaged in a CD case as an object of contemplation. True, I haven't heard of any specific example before this but, if you were thinking about more or less circular, flat items to substitute for an audio disc, such a thing could well have sprung to mind. It's very attractive, after all, burnished steel, in this instance bearing four incisions (mine has four; the above, three) and two shade tones. It connotes sound, a fairly specific, high volume sound that can, in my experience, hover on that fine line between excruciating and divine, inhabiting an area not so far from some noise climes. It implies a kind of violence. It has heft. It feels cool, smooth and somewhat uncomfortable in one's hands. More, Lao Yang has filled the anterior section of the CD case wi a folded rectangle of black sandpaper (rough side exposed front and back) and sandwiched the blade between two discs of same, a half-inch circular hole in their center. There's no printing whatsoever to be found anywhere; all is black or silver. Not quite true--turning over the sandpaper reveals the iterated identification, "P400", the grade of the material, I assume. But there are a couple of other, small, odd things. On my copy (I have no idea if this is the case throughout the run of 50 which, per the website, are not for sale), there are two small, about a centimeter square, placards of thin cardboard. On one, floating loosely inside the case, is a drawing of a man in glasses wearing headphones, his mouth covered by an impossible to identify shape. On the other, slightly larger and wedged between the CD backing and the back of the case, is a pair of workman's or gardening gloves, one laid atop the other. Both drawings have a kind of ideographic quality as though they're abstract representatives of some function or occupation. Perhaps it's someone, and his apparel, who operates a saw.

Olaf Hochherz - watching (Kwanyin)

"Half-animals" is how Hochherz describes the creatures he's created here. The uninformed listener may wonder if he's listening to especially clear and pristine field recordings of insect, amphibian and bird life or if it's an entirely electronic construct. I think the latter though I'm not sure the sounds, or some of them, don't have an ultimate genesis in the analog world. In any case, we're presented with some 42 minutes of these sounds, varying about as much or little as one might encounter near a pond at night, chirruping along at a low level, quite individuated, with the random odd sound or momentary increase in volume. It slips easily into whatever your ambient environment happens to be, unassuming, just slightly alien, a gentle forest of electronic crickets and peepers. Strangely satisfying, somehow more so than many a "real" field recording.

Tim Blechmann/Manuel Knapp - untitled 89 (Kwanyin)

When last heard from (by me), only a couple of months back, mssrs. Blechmann and Knapp had produced a work titled "VIII", a lengthy, droning surge that was ok if a bit thin in substance. This one has some of that feeling, but more structural variation and more reverberant, vibratory kind of sound. I just happened to have rewatched 'Stalker' for the third time the other evening; not sure if I would have attached a Stalker-ish aspect to this music had I not but, well, you could do worse for comparisons. It's bleakly industrial, a barely functioning factory in the wee hours, sluggishly in motion, lights barely flickering. It combusts now and then, sizzles for a bit, subsides. Blechmann and Knapp do a really good job reining in any potentially showoff-y or spectacular urges, keeping things multiple shades of gray, richly layered. Good job, strong work.

btw, you can hear these releases - well, two of them - at the site below...


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