Sunday, May 03, 2009
Annette Krebs/Rhodri Davies - Kravis Rhonn Project (another timbre)
Very strong, extremely well integrated set, Krebs and Davies meshing perfectly; had I been told this was a (complex) solo set, I'd have accepted that. There's a wonderful gliding aspect to much of the music here, maybe set into motion largely by Davies, a kind of slow, up and down swoop, that's quite entrancing, all the more so when adorned with pebbles of taped sounds, gritty static, etc. Great balance of soft dronage, occasional quasi-rhythms, super-sensitive inclusion of quiet voices--next to impossible to describe to any degree of satisfaction, but that's usually the case with something as beautifully positioned as this. Mandatory.
Max Eastley/Rhodri Davies - Dark Architecture (another timbre)
[No cover image available at this time, I don't think]
I don't think I'd heard Eastley's music since the old Obscure LP. My loss and foolishness. This is an absolutely lovely and entrancing site recording with contributions from Eastley's sound sculptures (presumably mechanically induced, though as natural sounding as could be, including firework-like bangs), his arc (described on his MySpace page as "a monochord of wood and wire, which is scraped, bent and flexed into an orbit of amplified effects"--I pause to note that the music which surfaces from that page is somewhat surprising, to me, given the present recording) and Davies, seemingly staying pretty much with his ebow on the harp. Not all smoothness and light--it grows quite troubled at points--but dwells in the space very convincingly. Might lose a bit of steam in the last few minutes, but an engrossing disc overall.
EKG - Electricals (another timbre)
Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, english horn, analogue electronics) and Ernst Karel(trumpet, analogue electronics) concentrate, as implied by the title, on the non-acoustic portion of their arsenal here, fashioning five fine pieces again, as with the previous releases, balancing the crunchy with the smooth, the fluttery with the grainy buzz. I get a subtle narrative flavor here as well; much of this music would work very well in partnership with visuals. When the horns do emerge, it's often quite effective in a plaintive, melancholy manner. The structures are off-center enough that I find new facets on each hearing, always a good sign. Good stuff.
Octante - Lúnula (another timbre)
The second recording by this quartet (Ruth Barberán, trumpet. speaker, microphones/Alfredo Costa Monteiro, accordion, objects/Ferran Fages, oscillators, pick-ups/Margarida Garcia, electric double bass) if I'm not mistaken, their first since 2003. More forceful than I might have anticipated, very rich and...whatever the adjective is for the sound of rubbing on surfaces of various textures and tensile qualities. It sometimes sounds, on the first of the two long tracks, that all four are deliciously drawing bows across multiple parts of their respective instruments. The second track begins with more space, more separation of instruments and perhaps nods a bit toward efi. It gradually splays out nicely though, seeping into far, quiet corners, before regrouping for some fine, harsher dronage and skronk.
Four solid, strong releases, all of which I'd recommend hearing. Nice job, Simon.
Available in the US from erstdist
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 5/03/2009 10:29:00 AM
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Thanks, Brian, for the write-ups.
I'm particularly glad that you liked 'Dark Architecture' because I had no idea what people would make of this disc. When I sent out copies to reviewers I added a sheet explaining the context of the recording, but somehow I didn't get one to you.
The fireworks weren't part of Max Eastley's work, but were a Divali celebration that started up unexpectedly in the park adjacent to the gallery where we were recording. Rather than abandon the session, Rhodri and Max chose to carry on playing, adapting their music gently to incorporate the pyrotechnics. Listening back later this track was our favourite, and we felt that the irregular rhythms of the fireworks worked well with the irregular phases of activity from Max's sculptures (which, as you guessed, are motorised but also relate strongly to the natural world). Max is so diffident and un-self-promoting that he often gets overlooked, but his work in both sculpture and music is fantastic. You can see examples of some of the sound sculptures used in this recording on Helen Petts' youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6WHdZPzfW8&feature=channel_page
Hah. I was listening to the fireworks section, thinking, "That really does sound like fireworks--there's a distance aspect--wonder how he/they achieved that effect!
Lent a kind of Olivia Block tinge to the affair.
I listened to Dark Architecture through on the way into London this morning. I was never in any doubt that the fireworks were an external thing, but as I didn't get a "sheet" either ;) I was left wondering if the recording session had been deliberately set up to coincide with a firework display. I wondered this because the date of the recording wasn't far from Bonfire Night, the recording took place somewhere unusual to me and the bangs of the fireworks were so well captured it was as if a microphone had been placed outside to specifically capture them. I was also left wondering if the musicians were playing the way they were as if to pre-empt the intrusion, so it would fit into the performance easier!
See, I figured if I said, "Whilst they were playing [because, you know, I would've said 'whilst'] fireworks exploded in the distance", I'd've received chortling responses to the effect of, "Silly goose, don't you know that's one of Eastley's standard arc sounds? Something's he's employed every time he's played recently? Sheesh!" You can't win...
I talked a lot with Max about whether to include any reference to the fireworks on the cover, and in the end we decided not. The soundscape of the piece is quite bizarre anyway for anyone who hasn't seen Max's sculptures, and we thought that if we started explaining one thing it could be a slippery slope and where would we stop. It was such a chance thing anyway that Max felt it should remain a bit opaque and mysterious. One of the beautiful things about improvisation is that musicians can respond to unexpected sounds and integrate them into their work, whereas the fireworks would have ruined a recording session of almost any other kind of music.
However, as I said above, we did include the background information on the sheet for reviewers, as we thought it only fair to enlighten them so that false assumptions didn't start doing the rounds (as happened on the previous 'another timbre byways' cdr). I can only apologise that I somehow neglected to send you one of the sheets, Brian (and you too, Richard).
I've still got the old Obscure LP - but DID loose the one with Bryars' The Wreck of the Titanic and the original Jesus Blood on it. Rats!
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