Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patrick Farmer - Green rings around the eyes, this grass in vibrant motion. (nadukeenumono)

It's long been my belief that there are musicians who simply possess a high degree of musicality. Silly enough statement, I know. And even within that, of course, it's a musicality that happens to resonate with my ears, not necessarily yours, who bring to their work, however seemingly abstract, a logic or a poetic sense that matches, to some great extent, those found in my own synapses. I've always enjoyed Farmer's work, always found something of value, however obscure or slight were the elements that comprised it. I'd gotten used, in my limited exposure, to a reticent approach so this recording, a half-hour plus of rather violent pops and sputters interspersed with silences that seem to contain their own aggressiveness, while a significant departure from what I'd heard before, nonetheless has the same musicality (if you will) the same sense of rightness about it. Quantifying it is next to impossible and if I stand it, just for the sake of comparison, alongside of Rowe/Sachiko's 'contact', it's not to say it's at the same level--I don't think it is--but that it evinces a similar concern with the nexus of harsh sound and space, with not shying away from some tough problems of apparent discontinuity vs. the actual fluidity of the situation. To this listener, it works and works quite well; everything fits and, somehow, makes sense. A fine effort.


available from erstdist

Nicholas Szczepanik - Please Stop Loving Me (Streamline)

Coming from an utterly different direction but achieving a result that's just as excellent, is Szczepanik's intriguingly titled release. I've no idea as to the actual source(s) of the sounds, but the general result is a rich cream with an organ-y flavor, though one suspects there might be orchestral and choral elements, all combined and threshed via electronics. No matter, really. It's unavoidable to mention the Eno of "On Land" here (and even a taste of Brancan sonorities); there's a feel of some of the passages form that seminal work but much deeper and, if you will, more romantic. I use the term not only in deference to the disc's title but also in that I was reminded throughout of the work of Bernard Herrmann. While at one glance, it's drone-oriented and steady state, there's always numerous plies writhing beneath the surface and when they venture toward full audibility, they have something of that wrenching, almost melodramatic quality heard in Herrmann. This occurs most noticeably around 24 minutes (and it's stunningly gorgeous) in and you think, perhaps, the first portion was only a prelude, that there would be a shift, but not really. It just settles into an adjacent seethe. Unlike Farmer's, it's "easy" on the ears but there's just as much to explore, just as many surprises; you simply have to tilt your head differently. The lengthy diminuendo also has more going on "inside" it than might be apparent at first blush, more unsettling than you think. Very, very enjoyable.

I don't see it listed yet on the Streamline/Drag City page, but here's one place where you can learn more.

Adrian Dziewanski - Orbital Decay (Scrapyard Forest)

Not entirely dissimilar to Szczepanik's music, as it happens, Dziewanksi's work also resides in drone territory and one of its major strands is an organ-like hum, but there are both significant low pulses and, more prominently, a sparkling set of buzzes and trills atop, all forming a slow ebb and flow. It's fundamentally much more in the steady-state realm, though, essentially unchanging over its duration--the relationships between the sounds are altered, to be sure, but the basic character of the piece remains very much the same throughout, at least as far as I can hear. All well and good and it's a pleasant confluence of sounds but I wanted more--either a variation in structure that had more resonance or the integration of sonic elements with a somehow rougher character. OK, but needs more street.

scrapyard forest


Jon Abbey said...

I think 'Salon de Sachiko' might be a closer reference point for the Farmer than 'contact', that was one that occurred to me earlier.

I liked the Farmer and think it's one of the stronger releases I've heard this year, but I'm surprised that neither you nor Richard P brought up my primary impression from my few listens so far, which is that it seems to me to be divided into two parts, the first in which Farmer focuses on one area and a second in which he focuses on a different area. I was left wishing that he had mixed the two approaches/palettes throughout, then I think the comparison to 'Salon de Sachiko' or something else along those lines would be more valid.

(apologies for the somewhat vagueness of this post, as I haven't heard it in a week or so and am not playing it now, but going from memory)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon and Brian.

Firstly thanks very much for the kind review Brian. i'm hoping to be in America next February/March, it'd be nice to meet you if the opportunity arises at a show.

Jon, I haven't listened the disc in question for quite some time, and I'm in Estonia at the moment so I can't rectify this for atleast another week. However, i feel this is a good thing, as I can ask you about the division you spoke of without any pre guided notions, open to whatever you say.

i recorded the piece because Kosuke, who runs nadukeenumono - which is the japanese translation for the title of beckett's the unnameable for anyone interested, had initially asked if I could produce something along the lines of Bestiaries, which I didn't want to, so it gave me an excuse, it appears I needed one, to play the turntable, which I had only been given a few days before.

The fact that i was recording for a potential release was on my mind, and i think i restricted myself to the two implements, contact mic and wire brush, because i didnt want to get bogged down in the details, like i almost always do. But as far as structure goes, it feels like it was predominantly intuitive, or blind, i dont mind either way, so you can see why im intrigued at your interpretation.

Perhaps I'll listen back to the disc and go, oh ye, of course, but I'd still very much like for you to elaborate on the areas/approaches you mentioned, if you care to.

Thanks both.

Richard Pinnell said...

I love the fact that we now have two CD labels named after The Unnameable. There should be one in every country!

Jon Abbey said...

thanks for the answer, Patrick! I thought this was destined to be another attempt at dialogue that lies dormant...

I just listened again, and I mostly retract my earlier statements. what threw me was the five minutes or so starting around 15:30, which is much more sparse than the bulk of the record (except for the start/end), and which I'd earlier thought served as a dividing point between two different areas of exploration. but this time through, those sections seemed more connected to each other, so maybe I just needed more listens.

good to hear you might be coming to the US!

Anonymous said...

I shall take your word for it Jon :) It was a fun thing to record, ooh this does this, that does that, how is that doing that, I felt very much like a child. It was a very similar process to the 'No Islands' disc with Kostis, Sarah, and Stephen, nothing felt well worn or familiar.

Differing degrees of interpretation are always intriguing. It goes without saying that I wouldn't compare "green rings...' to 'contact' or 'salon...' and on a side, I would like to exist solely in the comfy room of intrigue and openness that comes when exploring something that is close to utterly new, but then I will always be carrying baggage around, my previous concerns and the aesthetics that I have picked up along the way, and so the structure that was mentioned, is indeed climbing all over degrees of absence and presence. I am always there in the recording, even when I am sat still, the turntable is rotating and I am gingerly holding a wire brush above it, looking at the grooves of the record, as I still use records, they are very nice surfaces for such things, so I feel that I am present just as much when I am not playing as when I am, so I am always playing, for however long that disc lasts for, I would say.