Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An even dozen new releases from Creative Sources

Kim Johannesen/Svein Magnus Furu - The Ecologic

Guitar and reeds. Johannesen seems to fluctuate between Rowe-ian (bowing, objects on guitar) and Bailey modes, while Furu ranges widely from drones to sputters to quiet abstraction. Mostly improv, though once in a while you get the sense of pre-composition. When Johannesen gets locked in, as on "Ants marching" (yes, the titles are unfortunate), it's pretty enjoyable, though Furu is a bit too up front and gabby for my taste. Good work at its best but inconsistent.

Martin Küchen/Ernesto Rodrigues/Guilherme ROdrigues/Carlos Santos - Vinter

I won't say much about this one since I wrote the liners; suffice it to say that it's a very good one.

Ernesto Rodrigues/Neal Davidson/Guilherme Rodrigues/Hernâni Faustino - Fower

Viola, acoustic guitar, cello and bass, not leagues apart from the prior release but, perhaps due to the absence of someone like Küchen, lacking some of the intensity. They do get there, on tracks like "haugh", but it's an intensity arrived at more through hyperactivity than fundamental being. "Fower" is perfectly fine, a decent improv recording, but not essential.

Mark O'Leary - 4 Urban Landscapes

Four aural images of Cork, Ireland. I tend to like field recordings. In fact, I find myself wondering sometimes: Could there be a field recording I wouldn't like, at least a bit? Well, yes. One way to get there is to introduce echoes, especially on captured voices, as though it's making them somehow more evocative. No. There's a dull sheen in play as well, almost as though the mics aren't paying close attention. Strange. The third piece, "Panarmaic" [sic], dispenses with the echoes and fares better but the fourth, "The Stone Cutter" inches too close to the travelogue for comfort and the inserted poem recitation is far too precious.

Jonas Kocher - Materials

Accordion, object, electronics. Accordion in the Costa Monteiro tradition, that is. The titles indicate the mode of attack, listing the primary weapons, whether bow, buttons, cymbal, electronics or steel wool. Kocher succeeds when his approach is violent as well as when it's soft and considered. The array of colors is large and well-chosen, each of the seven pieces displaying a different angle, a thoughtful appreciation. Good recording-the best extreme accordion I've heard in a while.

Jason Kahn - Timelines Los Angeles

Performed by Olivia Block (prepared piano), Jason Kahn (percussion, analog synth), Ulrich Krieger (alto and sopranino saxophones, electronics) and Mark Trayle (laptop, guitar) in April, 2008. Kahn's been working on his Timelines series for a while (you can see the graphic score for this one here). The score assigns each player three blocks of time, each between ten and twenty minutes, spread over an hour. Not sure what, if any, further instruction is given, but listeners expecting any sort of steady-state rhythmic piece, might be surprised at the slow, contemplative pace, not overtly rhythmic, of this recording. It thickens about midway through, taking on something of the character of Tibetan low horn ceremonies before abruptly cutting off due to the timed nature of the score, leaving a quiet swirl. Soon, Kahn does in fact return to his signature cymbal taps in this final section, capping off a very satisfying experience. Excellent recording.

Ember - Aurona Arona

Urs Leimgruber (soprano, tenor sax), Alexander Schubert (electronics, violin), Oliver Schwerdt (piano, percussion organ), Christian Lillinger (drums, percussion). Rambunctious, gabby and scratchy free jazz, just the kind I have really short patience with! I really don't think I'd have enjoyed this 20-30 years ago had it been issued on Emanem, less so today. Drummer Lillinger has some nice moments and the last track points toward one way out of this thicket, too late. I'm sure it will satisfy some tastes, but not mine.

Isa Wiss/Marc Unternährer - Sopstück

OK, I admit it. The prospect of a voice/tuba duo presenting eighteen tracks didn't exactly set my salivary glands flowing. If it was a single 40-minute track, I may have been intrigued. Even the near-alphabetization of the track titles didn't really sway me (though it helped). I've never, to the best of my knowledge, heard either, but I sensed a reduced volume, free improv collection where the vocals tended toward the expressionistically guttural/wheezing/spittlicious and the brass edging toward the flatulent/rapidly breathy. I was pretty close. There's some variation but not nearly enough, and the brevity of the pieces disrupts any potential continuity. Oh, yes, there's some Donald Duck. Yes there is. Not my cuppa.

TonArt Ensemble & Ernesto Rodrigues - Murmurios

TonArt is a nine-piece ensemble (strings, winds, electronics) that's worked with Braxton, Rowe, Parker, etc. though I think I've only heard them rarely. They're rather busy, in a skittering, sliding kind of way (not so very loud), far more so than some other freely improvising nonet, say, Phosphor. But the phrasing is gestural in the manner classically influenced efi, which cloys things a bit for me. The second of the two cuts develops a decent head of steam as the group begins chugging a bit, creating some friction. Overall, not bad but not as good as I imagine they're capable of being.

Mike Majkowski - Ink on Paper

Solo double bass. Majkowski is a youngish (27), Australian musician, new to me. On a couple of pieces, including the lengthy title cut, he finds a fairly unique area of high, quick bowed sounds, several tonalities rapidly interspersed (via overdubs), connoting activity not unlike the dozens of ants prowling the disc's interior sleeve. Personally, I didn't find this ground so interesting, however. On others, he quite ably plies a kind of approach I might think of as pre-Guy, free playing, somewhere between Malachi Favors at his driest and, say, Peter Kowald. On the last track, he takes his time, investigates the properties of the instrument more concentratedly, and fares better.

Ulrich Mitzlaff/Miguel Mira - Cellos

Two of them. Again, I have some of the same problems I had with the solo bass recording above. All very well played but much too much in very well-trodden territory, largely close to what one would imagine any give double-cello recording (not that there were scads of them!) that, say, Emanem might issue would sound like. Very active, very gestural in a 60s/Pendereckian kind of way. But, as before, when they settle in, calm down and listen more, (this is the sense I get) it's fairly rewarding. As with a disturbing number of free improvisers, they sound to me better the "straighter" they play; I often wish people didn't feel obliged to play free....

SKIF++ - .next

Jeff Carey, Robert van Heumen and Bas van Koolwijk, laptops, the latter on visuals, presumably when seen/heard live.

I've carped a bit above about excess activity on the part of some of the musicians. Well, this trio of electronicists can be as active, scurrying and scrabbling as anyone...but it works. Freewheeling while managing to maintain some kind of control, they're perhaps comparable to Lehn/Schmickler in approach when they have pedal to the floor. But also quite capable of reining things in as on the lengthy "[thinner]", a fine, low, rumbling series of quivers and rustles. Good, solid recording.


So the picks of this particular litter for me:

Vinter, Jonas Kocher, Kahn's Timeline Los Angeles and SKIF++.

creative sources

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tomas Korber/Ralf Wehowsky - Walküren am Dornenbaum (Entr'acte)

A fine, strong release. My copied arrived bereft of any explanatory information, but Richard's excellent write-up from earlier this month details the working method employed here, essentially using field recordings and possibly other sources in a file exchange routine wherein the music was constructed over a period of several years. You can certainly pick up hints of crowd noise, birds, perhaps insects and other naturally occurring sounds, but they're consistently used in a non-referential manner, purely as sound elements, blocks adapted and nestled into a thick and rich framework. There's a "concrète-ish" sound to it, in a sense, but the vernacular is quite different from what one normally encounters, much less refined (a good thing), ruder even. Even the gentler pieces, like the fifth track, have something of a whip-like aspect, the twangs carrying burred edges, darting between echoing clinks, voices and high, organ-y tones, creating a marvelously complex, hurtling-forward environment. Great work, that one especially, something I'd love to experience in a multi-speaker space.


Jacques Beloeil/Michael Anacker - 30 (Entr'acte)

I had kind of enjoyed the screwy Beloeil release on entr'acte last year, a Casio-driven joyride of sorts. Here, we have a disembodied, synthesized voice counting down from thirty, once a minute, while things fall apart around "her". Tumbling metal, escaping steam, other distorted voices, a regular heartbeat thud, etc. There's a filmic, dystopic feel at play, inevitable in this countdown set-up and it works well as far as it goes, though it has a distancing effect. The steady rhythm becomes more pronounced below "10", the music edging toward the tonal, with a smidgen of Glass. "0" is, inevitably, reached, the electronic rhythm having simplified to a resonant blip and the piece ends, with something of a whimper, no bang. And no lasting impression, I'm afraid to say.


Mecha/Orga, Adam Asnan, Pauwel De Buck, Joshua Convey, Adrián Democ (Entr'acte)

A collection of five pieces, one by each listed above. Mecha/Orga's (Yiorgis Sakellariou) "8:36" sounds as though built from sine tone along with, perhaps, wires vibrating on metallic surfaces, though his site suggests enhanced field recordings. Whatever, the piece is quite enchanting, kind of like taken a sliver of early Reich, a vibraphone portion say, and inflating it. Nice. Field recordings certainly figure into Adam Asnan's "Grumbles, Lapses", rather like a slide show, sections flitting by, naturalistic scenes abstracted by displacement, disruptive, uneasy, some appearing with the abruptness of a struck match. I get the sense of very tight control here, admirable and a little oppressive at the same time. Interesting work.

Yet more field recordings make up the material for "Neenah Foundry", by Pauwel De Buck, from an apartment courtyard and within the building, though here the result is airy and ghostly, not heavy, though brooding. A strong piece, both troubling and lovely. Joshua Convey, a member of Fessenden, probably uses a few as well in his "Tone Change on Pops' Farm", a wonderful piece beginning with shimmering tones that form the substructure for a huge load of more irregular sounds, including bluesy guitar, though that throb never quits. A beaut.

The final track stands quite apart: Adrián Democ's "Dve prosby" (Two Prayers) for flute, soprano and string quartet. Plaintive, tonal and very moving, at five minutes a kind of Eastern European blessing on what's preceded. Why it's here otherwise, I've no idea, but I'm glad it was included; good compilation, worth hearing.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Robin Hayward - States of Rushing (Choose)

Solo tuba, tough sledding. Seven tracks here from Mr. Hayward, the first four of which seem to form a kind of suite, all involving soft breath tones of one kind or another. Much grain (or spittle) lending a soft bumpiness to the texture, very gray in character, the sort of music that I enjoy more when not listening too closely. Sounded ok in and of itself but was kind of what I'd have expected anytime in the past decade--a studied examination of certain textures, but if didn't really grab me. The fifth track is a 13-minute exploration of plosives, I'd imagine created by valve popping, quite an imposing, even rude little juggernaut, boom-boom-boom almost the whole way through before the regularity begins to splinter. Rather unpleasant in a sense, but forceful. Track six, "Recoil", deals in strangulated tones, again a bit harrowing but here carrying some extra depth, the two or even three simultaneous plies providing much greater richness than the previous tracks. Still, I wish there was more material with the beauty of the final track, "Tone". Hayward returns to the softness of the earlier pieces but imbues it with a powerful sense of beauty, mystery, even sadness. Less than four minutes long but worth the price of thee disc.


(Various) (Mikroton)

Various indeed. Forty-five tracks spread over two discs, so averaging three-four minutes each. If I have a complaint, it's only that I wanted many of the better of the pieces to go on longer. As is, we have multiple snapshots of the Vienna scene, including musicians passing through.Is it a rule of thumb on comps like this that most stuff is going to be just "ok"? Seems so to me. In any case, there are works I enjoyed a good deal by Alexandr Vatagin, Kazuhisa Uchihashi/Burkhard Stangl, Toshi Nakamura, Susanna Gartmeyer/Thomas Berghammer, Pendler, Jez Riley (French), Nifty's, noid, Los Glissandinos, frufru, Goh Lee Kwang and Angelica Castello. The final track, a giggling Star Trek parody--in Austrian--is painful in a thankfully rare manner.


Dawn of Midi - First (Accretions)

A NYC/Paris based piano trio with Qasim Naqvi (drums, toys), Aakaash Israni (bass) and Amino Belyamani (piano). Maybe it's just me, but almost every time I hear a pretty good jazz pianist these days, I hit on Paul Bley. My guess is that Bley was, in many respects, ahead of his time and over the last decade or so, many folk are catching up, not a bad thing. This trio has something of his improvisational feel (not compositional), which they weld with a certain amount of experimental techniques including prepared piano. All three musicians are quite strong and, more importantly, show a good amount of restraint, allowing each other ample space in which to operate. Israni has a sound that's both large and nicely dry while Naqvi is light and fluid, making for a tasty combination. Belyamani makes sparing use of preparation but when he does, it's an effective color, not used for mere decoration. Listeners searching for rich, post-Bley jazz would do well to check this out.


Philip Brophy - I Am Piano (Sound Punch)

Speaking of jazz piano...the indefatigable Philip Brophy returns with two discs, one of which consists of mutated samples from five notables: Evans, Monk, Garland, Hill and Brubeck. Very mutated, often sliced into small shards (each piece derived from a single 3 to 7 second sample) then reassembled into new rhythmic frameworks and loops, more or less managing to convey the spirit of the samplee. Is it anything more than an (often attractive) technical exercise? I can't say that it is. Artful? Yes, very. Amusing? Kind of. Nourishing? Hardly. Made me yearn a bit for Carl Stone's "Mom's".

Philip Brophy - Filmmusic Vol. 2 (Sound Punch)

Works for five films, all performed by Brophy, from 1993 - 2005 and a far more enjoyable go. A wonderfully restrained guitar/drum shuffle from "Anyone Home", nice, soft electric keyboards on "The Pining Tree", rich and hazy Hassell-ian resonances from "Whispering in the Dark" and the noir/techno (much fun) from "Maidenhead". This disc ends with a suite of pieces from "Only the Brave", the music lying in some quadrant between Terry Riley and Wayne Horvitz--bubbly and smooth but with enough gristle to satisfy and make for an engaging ride. Not bad at all.

Philip Brophy

A couple o weeks ago, on the drive up to Boston, Jon mentioned to me the various options laid out by Robert Kirkpatrick (or, Hollow Earth Recordings, mgmt.) for procuring one of his releases. It was in an edition of only five and, should you desire one, you only had to meet him and give in exchange some item of value. Jon had just such an object in hand but I didn't give it too much thought until, later on, I saw the individual packages, about 10 x 12", carefully wrapped in fine, brown paper and my interest, not to mention my latent collector's streak, was piqued. But aside from money (crass) and my keys (not advisable), I had nothing remotely of value on my person. Except some gum. As it happens, "a stick of gum" was one of the items presented as an example of a thing of value in the initial offering, so Robert accepted it and I, feeling quite guilty, handed it over.

I'd been expecting a mere CDR or something. Instead, I was given a matted watercolor (above), on the back of which were attached two CDs in sleeves. A week later, in Jersey City, I gave Robert a watercolor of my own, easing my conscience somewhat.

Not sure how much sense it makes to review something of which there are only five copies extant (don't know if one of the recipients will upload it somewhere) so I won't, really. The release is called "aeolian electrics" and, is the title implies, there seems to be wind-activated sounds in play. I think I would have come to the decision even without the advisory that accompanies the discs, but playing them simultaneously works very well. They're quiet and spacious and, as near as I can perceive, the activities are fairly random. One disc involves ringing metallics (a Tibetan bowl buffeted in some manner by wind?), the other more "whistling wind" (through some aperture?). They compliment each other quite well.

I have them on at the moment on this fine, brisk Saturday morning, drinking coffee, doing the NYT crossword. It makes for a very beautiful environment.

a spiral cage

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Manuel Mota/Afonso Simões - Ao Vivo no Espage, Centro de Desastres (Dromos)

Not the Mota I was expecting. In my head, I, doubtless unfairly, would have conjured up a phrase like, "the Iberian Sugimoto". Well, here, in the company of drummer Simões, it's more like "The Portuguese Sharrock or Capspar Brotzmann". He raises quite the squall in this freewheeling, high-energy blowout. It's only about 25 minutes long and seems to cut out while things are still going on. I can't say it's an approach that holds much attraction for me, but if you've been aching for some Fushitsusha-style flailing explosiveness, you could do worse. Nice cover, with an individual smoke-burn on each copy.

Tetuzi Akiyama/Eden Carrasco/Leonel Kaplan - Moments of Falling Petals (Dromos)

Just as I had been expecting a quieter Mota, I was probably anticipating a noisier, bluesier Akiyama but once again, I was flummoxed. Here he, along with Carrasco on alto and Kaplan on trumpet, play it soft and borderline melodic all the way through. Much space, a nice array of texture. Several lovely moments here, including one about 20 minutes in where I was strongly reminded of Roscoe Mitchell's Sound Ensemble from the early 80s (high praise). Again, it's a short disc, about 33 minutes, but strong and well-paced throughout, definitely one to hear. This release also has a great sleeve, folded origami like, as is the interior tissue sleeve. Good one.


Struggling to recover from an exhausting and entirely enjoyable weekend in the company of Keith. I suppose I should offer capsule summations of the two evenings of concerts at Diapason in Brooklyn though be forewarned, I wasn't taking notes.

I was very pleased to meet Sebastian Lexer earlier on Saturday, who proved to be an all-around fine fellow, causing me to look forward to that evening's events with even more anticipation. The performance was structured solo (Lexer)/solo (Rowe)/duo and all three were fine. Lexer had studied for several years with John Tilbury and while you could clearly hear the influence in the touch and preparations, he was very much his own person in how he structured his solo. One thing that struck me was his balance in varying attacks--he moved from place to place, often running the sounds through software but also letting them generate "naturally", but never seemed to be going through any sort of mental catalog, just flowing unhurriedly, revisiting certain areas that would begin to register as themes or guideposts.

Rowe also has a recent penchant for returning to the scene of approaches or individual devices he'd abandoned in recent years. He's mentioned that, just as one doesn't want to come to depend on a given sense of structure or device, so one also should never be afraid to revisit them. This performance hearkened back to somewhere in the area of recordings like "harsh," or the kinds of sets he was doing circa 2004 (on the US tour with Fennesz, for instance), much denser and more layered than recent outings (eg, "contact"). Details seem superfluous, but I noted one relatively long exposure of a distorted Latino radio station that sounded especially marvelous in contest. The duo worked quite well, though my specific memory of it is hazier. It was one of those events that, a couple hours after it occurs, you think, "Yes, that was very satisfying." Lexer wasn't so reticent as one might have expected (or, rather, as I might have expected prior to hearing him ably debate his side of various issues that afternoon). When he struck loud, ringing chords amidst a sea of agitated calm, they sounded entirely appropriate, not forced. As earlier, there was good conversation to be heard, tendentious here, accommodating there. I'd love to hear this pair again.

Sunday evening combined Rowe with Sean Meehan for the first set and Jason Lescalleet, a week after their Boston show, for the second. Sean chose not to bring his cymbals and dowels to the gallery, opting for his fork, some rice and I think a handful of other devices (I was sitting toward the back of the chairs set-up and, in the dim light, had a view (a delightful one) of only the top of the snare drum itself and Sean's hands entering and leaving my "porthole".) As you might expect, the set was a very quiet one, though extremely intense, the pair exchanging considered comments, pausing to reflect, moving on. Nothing that would surprise a listener versed in the pair's music, but a very moving half-hour of music nonetheless, in many ways my favorite of the weekend.

I was very intrigued to see the second collaboration between Rowe and Lescalleet in the space of a week, having had issues with the first such affair in Boston the previous Sunday. The good news is that it was a far more cohesive set. The "bad" (it wasn't a bad set at all) was that the cohesion seemed to come via the technique of drone maintenance, something that struck me as too easy, as gratifying as it was in other ways. On his own, Jason's way of layering massive, irregular planks of sound atop and in between one another can be nothing less than thrilling to behold. With others, those planks can become opaque, leaving little entryway for his compadres. Of course, this can be approached as a challenge by those musicians but I get the sense it can be fairly daunting. And there may well have been more Rowe in play than I picked up in the first 15-20 minutes of the set (lasted about an hour?) but it seemed to be a Lescalleet tsunami of sorts, exciting on a visceral level, less so to me when thinking about it (perhaps something I shouldn't do?) Still, there were certainly moments. Jason introduced a slowed-down (backward?) tape with vocal sounds that was extremely evocative and eerie and at one point doused his raging arsenal completely allowing otherwise inaudible (and beautiful) Roweian sounds to percolate calmly/agitatedly for several minutes. I think I wanted more of that give and take and less of a tidal bore (I mean "bore" as a drilled hole, of course, not as...)

Then there was the ending. Lescalleet mysteriously faced the rear of the room, adjacent to a think column. Eventually it became apparent (when I say, "apparent", I mean that the decibel level rose to cochlea-shattering levels) that he was manipulating his beloved Slinky, pulling and stretching its contact mic'd coils and creating an ungodly welter of noise, circling around behind the column, advancing on the poor, newly-into-his-seventh-decade Rowe (who, incidentally, was unaware that this was to be the finale, as it were). Jason reached to a point right at Keith's side, the end of the Slinky ready to take a bite, when the maelstrom abruptly ceased--end of set.

Was it spectacular? Assuredly. Was it more than that? I don't know, but I don't think so. I should say that, as near as I can determine, I was in the extreme minority (not alone, though) insofar as having some qualms about the performance. Ed Howard, for example, has an excellent and tightly-observed review here. So take all the above with the usual grains of rice.

But all in all, a marvelous weekend in the company of some great people. Thanks Keith, Sebastian, Sean, Jason, Jon, Yuko, Richard. Aside from the music and folk, I finally made it to the legendary Sripraphai, a wonderful Korean restaurant on W. 32nd whose name I forget (plus the waiter wouldn't let me order the oysters wrapped in pork belly--next time!), fourth time at Hill Country BBQ and had the most delicious chocolate almond croissants I've ever encountered at Madeleine Patisserie on West 23rd St. I'm now very fat.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Michael Pisaro - July Mountain (engraved glass)

Not that it's so important, but I don't think I've ever experienced 21 minutes passing so quickly. The first several times I listened to "July Mountain", I was afraid there had been a disc defect and it had somehow skipped ahead; it felt as though about ten minutes had elapsed.

That's only one amazing aspect of this recording. Another rather subsidiary one comes into play when one sees the score and realizes not only how densely packed and thought through this piece is but how it still manages to feel light and air-permeated.

But these are sideline things next to, simply, how it sounds, which is extraordinary, mysterious, life-abundant. Twenty phased field recordings done in mountain or valley areas mix with ten percussion extracts (performed superbly by Greg Stuart) sourced from specific instrumental orientations covering an enormous range of timbre and pitch, all sequenced in a temporally exact manner (i.e., piano chord entering at 8:00). Again, as fascinating as it is to know this, the great joy is simply in lying back and letting "July Mountain" cascade over you. The sounds begin quietly with birds, wind, the low throb of an airplane engine, etc. and gradually mass into an onrush that remains strangely delicate for all its force. The piano, children's voices, sine tones, light metallic clatter and much more begin to funnel into an ever widening vortex that absolutely sucks you in while always providing oxygen. It's as if you're sitting on the mountain or in that valley having had your ears hyper-sensitized so they were picking up every sound within miles and, more, making a kind of sense of them, collating them into a semi-recognizable pattern.

A great, great work, one I can easily see listening to for many years to come.

Anne Guthrie - Standing Sitting (engraved glass)
As beautiful as Pisaro's release is, please don't ignore this lovely one from Anne Guthrie. I'd only known her work in association with musicians like Richard Kamerman and Billy Gomberg where she generally wields a french horn. Here we have three processed field recordings, one recorded in DIA Beacon, the other two from a train station and aboard a train. Not so dissimilarly from work Pisaro has done before, Guthrie interweaves sine tones (or something akin; I'm not quite sure) with the recordings, creating a dreamy between-world of the real and the shimmering. The DIA piece resonates with the kind of disembodied, space-molded voices and sounds one encounters in large interiors like those found in that converted factory, here underlain with hums that, in this case, recall the sound installation on DIA's rooftop by the late Max Neuhaus.

The sine tones seem to have been applied intuitively, Guthrie allowing the field recordings to sit by themselves for a while, to establish a presence (very beautifully), then to be accompanied. It's difficult to describe why this works so well except to accede to the composer's ear and the choices she makes, but the impression, again, is of being hyper-aware, of a space and, too, picking up subliminal frequencies normally outside the range of hearing, these tones enhancing the overt sounds and imparting an air of wonder.

Very impressive work.

engraved glass

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kyle Bobby Dunn - A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn (Low Point)

It's always interesting to speculate on aesthetic seepage, on how music that, in a give example, seems to be an obvious direct influence but turns out not to be, though one assumes it's present at two or three removes. To my ears, so much of what one might call (acknowledging the over generalization) "tonal ambient drone" carries the scent of Eno between, say, 1975 and 1985. Much of this entirely enjoyable 2-disc set did to me as well. I was even being more specific, mentally checking off "Evening Star" as a decided point of reference. But I happened to have an e-mail exchange with Dunn who said he was only marginally familiar with Eno's work and had never, in fact, heard "Evening Star".

So there you go. And while it's possibly unfair to compare the two, I daresay that fans of Eno during that period (his most creative, I might say) with enjoy this release as well. Dunn generally takes acoustic or found sources and transforms them ("letting them bleed" as he puts it) into shimmering drones that tend to evince multiple layers. He often uses what I think of as a kind of "French horn" tonality, a Bryars-ish quality I've always found attractive, implying a watery, foggy ambiance. The textures vary from piece to piece, throat-sing-y here, organ-y there, never harsh, often with slow, tidally repeating surges--very well constructed. The one work that breaks this mold is actually the one I like best, "Sets of Four", a stately, heartfelt piece for piano that recalls some of John Cale's early 70s music. Ultimately, the music is a hair on the gentle side for my taste, but listeners attuned to this area with find a rewarding experience.

Dunn's myspace page

Marc Spruitt - Patterns (Soul Shine Through)

Spruitt set himself a challenge here, to create something perhaps less overbearing and in your face than his previous works. And there is an amount of space here, thought he surrounding sound is quite aggressive and virtually 3D in the manner it bursts from the silences. It's very filmic in the sense of abstract images flashing out against a white background, harsh and ragged, disappearing quickly. Not to suggest a comparison in quality, necessarily, but I found myself thinking of some Michael Snow videos, for example. So, yes, I guess it's less in one's face than prior music from Spruitt, but still
very much so, not so much as to be bothersome, though. Good, tough work.

You can hear some (all?) of it on Spruit's myspace page

The first ever encounter between Keith Rowe and Jason Lescalleet occurred last night in Boston at the Mills Gallery (a Non-Event event). The second will happen this coming Sunday at diapason in Brooklyn.

It was rather rocky going, which was more or less to be expected. Offhand, the approaches of each don't seem overly complimentary though that very push and pull--Keith more considered, Jason more volatile (oversimplifications, both, but, you know) could serve to generate fine results. At several points during the set (about an hour?) this was indeed the case, though interlaced with what seemed to be more frequent searches for common ground. Rowe had a metal plate in front of his guitar-neck that he rubbed and scraped with various items; he later explained that it was the inverse of the guitar strings, similarly sized but with the open spaces between the strings replaced by solid mass. As is his habit, he probed in the spaces left by his partner, nudging here and there but seeming content to "fit in". Lescalleet had a couple of old tape players, a turntable and other electronica. His contributions, by there nature as tape loops, often had repetitive elements which lent a good ground for Rowe to scrabble atop and within. At one point, Jason generated a very tonal wash, a thick ambient drone which Keith went along with for a bit before attempting to dirty things. The volume level fluctuated, several times reducing to near silence, once violently interrupted by a burst triggered by Lescalleet that momentarily sounded like a speaker loudly shorting.

There were several points along the way, including a lovely multiple-popping, percolating one toward the end, that were fantastic, though the whole never quite achieved a unifying, driving power. But it will be interesting to see how they fare the second time around. Audio seepage from, I think, a bar next door, imparted an odd ending the set as a jazz-bluesy belter intruded through the walls....

Great to see everyone there, looking forward very much to this weekend.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Nina Katchadourian - Sky Mall Kitties

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Paul Abbott/Daichi Yoshikawa - Broken Tree

When does a harsh, disruptive, oddly-angled and altogether difficult set of music not work for me? And why? Damned if I know but this one fails to do the trick. I was thinking, while listening, of sets I've heard fairly recently by, for example, Richard Kamerman and Reed Evan Rosenberg (Tandem Electrics) that might, broadly speaking, fall into a similar area but which I greatly enjoyed. Something to do with the perceived flow, maybe, the internal logic that somewhere well below the surface, makes sense to me. Here, I could never really pick up any proper thread, which could well be my failing. Or perhaps Abbott and Yoshikawa intended no thread to be available. Maybe it's that too large a percentage of the sounds for my taste, evoked a kind of saxophonic emotionalism, the wailing feedback-y moans. Too wiggly here, too meandering there. Happily, you can listen for yourself and determine I know not whereof I speak (or hear):

authorized version

(Various) physical, absent, tangible (Contour Editions)

Good news: Richard Garet has started his own label, Contour Editions, and the first release is a compilation of five artists, once again--as has beenthe case quite often recently--all new to me.

OK, anyone who knows me knows how short my patience is for noms and can imagine what it took for me to get past a piece from someone going by the moniker, i8u (count to ten, Brian) but damn if this isn't a wonderful work. She (France Jobin) has been around for a while, actually, I've simply never encountered her that I can recall. "Rarefaction" is a drone piece but one containing exceptional warmth and wit. After several minutes, she introduces this luscious seesaw between a soft high hum and a super-low loud one, the relationship between the pitches sounding oddly familiar as though extracted and mutated from some pop standard. Very nice. Christopher Delaurent's two works are darker, airy rumbles spiced with poppage, that convey a fine, slate-like texture. Not bad, though maybe a bit similar to much other music in this area.

Gil Sansón presents a suite of eight shortish pieces that mix field recordings with electronics, some of which are very lovely on their own while others drift a bit aimlessly. Their relatedness, as well (perhaps intentionally) seems tenuous, though they're the kind of work that I feel I'd enjoy far, far more in situ, in a sizable room, rather than over speakers. The final track, by Brian Mackern and Gabriel Galli closes the disc out in excellent fashion. 14 minutes of Morse Code-infused, gritty hum, whine, whistle and assorted noise that is absolutely convincing and corporeal. Even the warped music box-y cum Jarrett-on-Fender-Rhodes-with-Miles sound emerges some ten minutes in manages to work. Good stuff, want to hear more from this pair.

contour editions