Monday, March 02, 2009

Jez riley French - silence (engraved glass)

I take it for granted (though I imagine I could be wrong) that French does a fair amount of processing on his field recordings. Evaluating the results, therefore, involves balancing the degree of beauty, interest, richness, etc. of the source recordings against the use that's made of them, their positioning, enhancement, the weight they acquire. Sometimes, as in much of the Tsunoda I've heard, there's an airy expansiveness to the sounds, an irregular branching out. Perhaps due to the accompanying descriptions here, but I think/hope a quality that would have been apparent anyway, there's an enclosed effect at play with " silence", French having used building interiors, empty rooms and heating systems within walls. But within these enclosures, there's a billowy aspect, a cloud within the cube that seems to cause the walls to thrum, the house to vibrate. It's all wonderfully immersive which, when all's said and done, might be the chief quality one asks for in such music; however much it's been manipulated, it reads as real.

The third of three pieces, more than 1/2 hour long, concentrates on vibrating surfaces, some super-quiet, some throbbing enough to vibrate the surfaces of your own speakers, even at low volume. They were recorded in a building that carried strong memories for French and he evokes an eerie kind of calm, as though one has lied down on the heavy wooden floors, allowing the structure's inherent sounds to flow up through one's body. Very beautiful, very moving, difficult to otherwise describe. Could almost be a Bela Tarr soundtrack.

The disc comes with several photographs, heavily blurred images of apparently everyday scenes, not so bad a visual analogy.

More info may be found here though I'm guessing one must e-mail Jez to actually procure a copy? Well worth doing so.

R Millis - 120 (Etude)

I'm unfamiliar with Climax Golden Twins, of which Millis is a member, and had never encountered his work otherwise, so I had no idea what to expect here. Initially, the first track sounded a bit collage-ish, a (apparent) phone conversation overlaid on scratchy vinyl, but it soon segued into spacier territory, expanding out into glistening bands of minimalist psychedelia. The second follows a similar tack, but bumpier, harsher while the third dwells entirely in the ambient haze. These three are not bad, though I didn't find them particularly gripping, despite the rather unexpected and smile-inducing emergence of The Desert Band from Escalator Over the Hill at one point. The final track, however, beginning with an old, staticky argument about evolution between what sounds like two cranky, Southern black men, shifts into a lovely, forlorn guitar duo (I assume an overdubbed Millis), recalling Loren Connors, with an effective, subtle aura of hum. Arguably worth it for this piece alone.


Lee Noyes/Barry Chabala - Illuminati (Roeba)

I've only heard Barry in a handful of contexts (don't know Noyes at all) but I nonetheless surprised at how efi-y and even free-jazz-bluesy (at times) much of this music was. It varies a good bit, unspooling out into less definable areas (which, imho, work better, as in much of the second track) but seems to be drawn back into the sort of playing that I think of as related to 80s downtown NYC fringe, a mix of percussive clatter and multi-idiomatic guitar. There's a section in the third cut where Barry creates a really fine low, hum/throb but the percussion at the same time seems to "routine" in a free sense, like Jamie Muir had just teleported in. "Illuminati" has its moments, but I found it somewhat unsatisfying overall. In case you're unaware, though, Barry has an excellent free download available of his performance of Michael Pisaro's "Unter Eichen (Under Oaks)" available here "Illuminati", I believe, can be ordered through Barry's site


Richard Pinnell said...

I have been listening to JrF's disc a lot over recent days as well. I'd be inclined to say that beyond the methods used to actually unearth these otherwise inaudible sounds which probably involve careful microphone techniques he doesn't treat the sounds as such.

They are however arranged in a manner that works wonderfully for me. Whereas in the past Jez's compositions may have overcomplicated things a little here he keeps things very simple, so when two sounds are placed against each other its done as simply as that. A lovely CD.

Richard Pinnell said...

... and of course I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write up Brian. glad you liked at least some of it (part time coaster perhaps). Lee is from New Zealand and, of course has never heard of Jamie Muir (too young, too far away?) but i filled him in.


Jon Abbey said...

"Barry has an excellent fee download "

an amusing example of a typo changing the intended meaning entirely... :)

Brian Olewnick said...


Anonymous said...

haha... i didn't even catch that!


Jez riley French said...

ta for the write up Brian ! Actually I don't do any processing of the recordings I make at all - never do. I reckon I might think about doing that when I get bored with the sounds as they are, but the world is a very big place !!!!