Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Lawrence English/Werner Dafeldecker - Shadow of the Monolith (Holotype Editions)
A construction built from field recordings compiled in Antarctica using "transformations of atmospheric, hydrophonic and ionospheric materials", issued on LP. As we've come to expect from anything involving English, it's expertly recorded, the icy pops and snaps (I think!) of the opening "Fathom Flutter", for instance, or the entirety of "Moro_Mute", standing out in fantastic relief, each ping and knock like a sharply etched piece or scrimshaw. The sense of cold and beneath-the-ice water looms large; on windy days--and today is one such--our apartment can produce aeolian moans via various hallways and door jambs--they work quite will accompanying this release. The tracks are varied and, individually, enjoyable and often mysterious. If I have a quibble, it's with the "slideshow" nature of such a release, with nothing tying things together apart from geographical proximity. Admittedly, I've been listening to this after Pisaro's "Continuum Unbound", but I've always preferred those rare collections of field recordings which somehow transcend location and source. To be sure, I presume English and Dafeldecker intended no such thing and, as is, "Shadow of the Monolith" is a fine collection of beautifully realized recordings from a far off place.
Danae Stefanou - [herewith] (Holotype Editions)
Stefanou leaps into this exploration of the piano's interior with furious abandon and indeed, "furious" might be the operative term here though it's a controlled fury; one perceives that Stefanou identifies her objective and then pursues it relentlessly in an almost Tudorian fashion. She gives special emphasis both to the ridged physicality of the piano strings and the deep resonance of its body, virtually all of the eight tracks sounding massive, voluminous. Each piece sets parameters then investigates them, not taking too long (eight tracks on an LP totaling about 30 minutes) but with extreme incisiveness, involving tonal resonance, more percussive aspects, drones and more, all improvised. The playing is very full, even busy at times, but never clogged; as much as I tend to enjoy work with more overt spatial considerations, when an artist really plunges in, no looking back, that can work just as well, as it does here. The final track is simply a monster, hugely impressive, Stefanou weaving a groaning behemoth of sound, like one of the best Phill Niblock pieces you've ever heard with a fistful of sand thrown into the gears. Yes, that good. This is Stefano's first solo recording and I can't wait to hear more. Don't let this slip under your radar--excellent work.