Monday, November 06, 2006

Two from Azul Discografica

The first two recordings on the fine-looking new lable, azul discografica, have surfaced. Can't locate better reproductions at this time than the ones below, but it'll at least give you an idea. Both discs are available through erstdist.

Loy Fankbonner - el pabellon

azul discografica

It’s an approach as obvious as it is underutilized: record and process sounds in one’s immediate environment, weaving a fabric from known, everyday sources into something no one’s ever heard. Loy Fankbonner, co-founder of the new label azul discografica (the cover aesthetic of which reminds me a lot of the original BYG Actuel series), does just that on its first release, “el pabellon”.

Recorded over a period of three months from March to May, 2006, using only the sounds that crept through his Washington Heights (upper Manhattan) window as raw material, Fankbonner (credited with microphony, samples, processing and mix) crafts eight solid slabs of sound that are both varied and, by and large, successful. In the first track, “atardecer”, a recognizable general urban rumble gradually gets admixed with sharper, more piercing tones before evanescing into a delicate blend of hiss and watery drops, small bells and mutated car horns alongside, before a threatening crescendo at the very end. It’s a gorgeously evocative work, one of the strongest here, summoning mental images halfway between gritty reality and dreams. Other pieces, like the ensuing “jornada”, are more chunky and discontinuous. Taking Fankbonner at his word about the sole sound source, some of the harmonica-like tones are mysterious as to their origin. I hear a little bit of Braxton in those notes; I can almost imagine him playing clarinet with, in this case, clanking metal behind him. There are several shorter vignettes scattered through the discs, snapshots of moments enhanced or not so much by Fankbonner, each quietly effective.

On “vecindario”, he injects a series of off-kilter beats, sampled from who-knows-where, that throw a wrench into the flow, obstructing the “natural” sounds of the city until one learns to accommodate them, something more easily done when various loud throbs and sirens emerge, placing the beats into a wider context, though I still found the track disquieting. The longish “noche de primavera” extends this sense of unease through a range of eerie, high-pitched whines and remote “choral” moans while the title track closes out the disc by returning to that dark, lovely rumble heard on “atardecer”, not noticeably messed with, fading out as though the window is being slowly closed.

“el pabellon” is a solid first effort, well worth checking out.


Songbook vol.4

azul discografica

Ah, OK, what can we make of this? I'm apparently one of the few earthly denizens who enjoyed Mattin's first volume in the "Songbook" series on Hibari, a raucous, snarled set of improvised rock songs sounding (if this is possible) like a less studied version of DNA. I've missed the interim entries, vols. 2 & 3, though I somehow doubt there's any discernable "career arc" happening. This is a live set, a very recent one (July 5,2006), recorded in Tokyo by a rather all-star quintet: Mattin (vocals, guitar), Taku Unami (bass, piano), the excellent Anthony Guerra (guitar) and, from down the hall in the toilet, Jean-Luc Guionnet (sax) and Tomoya Izumi (shouting).

It's a brief disc, the six "songs" presented in a single 22-minute track. Supremely lo-fi and unbalanced, Mattin maybe singing into his computer mic (I say, "singing" but of course other words would serve better: growling, shrieking, sobbing, howling, gurgling, etc.), Guerra alternating between harsh clusters and relatively delicate plucking. Unami's bass playing, given his prediliction for computer-animated toys, is surprisingly funky. Cracks me up when, after a given eructative song, Mattin demurely says to the audience, "Thank you very much, thank you." In addition to DNA, the clear precedent for this approach seems to be Zorn's "Locus Solus" project from the early 80s. For my money, this works better, here largely due to Guerra's playing which, as usual, I find very compelling. That said, "Songbook vol 4" is at best going to be an acquired taste for most listeners. Dealing with Mattin's personality, as out front as it is here, ain't no easy thing. The final track, "Apologies", finds him bawling his head off. If he's faking it, it's a disturbingly convincing fraud. I don't know. That's also the section in which one can discern Guionnet and Izumi contributing from, apparently, a toilet far off mic.

It'd be tough to out and out recommend this one, but I'm kinda glad to have it.


Anonymous said...

As i remember Brian Song Book vol. 1 was released on Hibari Music not on w.m.o/r andthe next two volumes were released one by ukranian magazine Autsajder and vol. 3 by Guerra's Black Petal label w Noid and Dafeldecker's playing on it ...

Brian Olewnick said...

You're probably right on that. My mental recollection of the cover does have hibari-like overtones. I'll check at home and correct if necessary.

Brian Olewnick said...

Yep, Hibari it is. Thanks.