Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Luciano Maggiore - Onagro
Gunnar Lettow/Gregory Büttner - Flakes
Amptext - Seeds of Erasure
This trio of 3" releases from 1000füssler arrived together and, though doubtless not intended this way, their relative (by no means great) self-similarity makes it difficult not to hear them as a kind of a suite, and an excellent one at that, all three being very enjoyable.
Maggiore's "Onagro" consists of six brief pieces comprised of field recordings, though sounding more like amplifications inside a burning Cd player, all delicate crackles, sometimes with regular iterations as of some mechanical revolutions, but also sounding as though embedded in a wider atmosphere, a haze of just discernible noises in the background. Wonderful stereophony in play here; situating one's ears between speakers is a giddy joy. The sounds vary in timbre--lower knocking ones, hollow ping-pongy ones--but the activity level is similar, active but very natural sounding, as some highly mic'd goings on in a garden, though perhaps an artificial one. Fascinating, capable of being listened to over and over.
"Flakes", two tracks from Lettow and Büttner, almost seems like a fuller, denser variation on "Onagro", although entirely unrelated. Fashioned with multiple objects and instruments, including fans, the listener is once more plunged into a quite palpable sound-world, a-boil with movement, one's ears caroming inside a more closed area, the noises a bit more oppressive. Growls, thrums, deep ratcheting--a general sense of darkness prevails, especially in the first cut, "Greyish". The other, "Ocher", is just barely lighter, airier, still twittering with all sorts of vaguely malevolent creatures. Rough and tumble, as harsh as need be, brooding and altogether fine.
Amptext is cellist Gary Rouzer's affair and this imaginary suite full circle, quite beautifully. He also uses a set of fans (air conditioner variety) for the first piece, recorded and set through a complicated series of transformations, including a final recording of four other recordings played at staggered start times. However arrived at, the result is pretty stunning, an expanse of hisses, wheezes, squeaks, rumbles and the odd roar that's totally enveloping, somehow evoking the natural world and its fauna. The title cut involves placing two unrelated pieces side by side and then "erasing sections to expose any narrative flow that might be hidden". I like that idea...The cello is more prominent here (I think it appears on the first piece, unless there are some cello-like fans) heard against an abstract slate of rubbings and soft abrasions, emerging and disappearing. Another excellent work.
Had I to choose, the Amptext would be my pick, but each is very fine. Why not collect the set?