Friday, June 29, 2012

David Kirby - Cittakarnera (Copy for Your Records)

In some ways, an oddly retro recording, 68 minutes of, essentially, tape collage of the mash-up kind that recalls not so much the mix 'n' match aesthetics of downtown NYC in the 80s but more (at least for me) an aural equivalent of a certain kind of telecast that used to run on Manhattan Cable where some inspired fellow would meld swatches of film stock in rapid-fire fashion, linking things more or less thematically--explosions, dinosaurs, punches, kisses, whatever--in a manner that, at its best, beca,me almost rapturous.

It begins wonderfully enough, bird and insect sounds augmented by a whirling, vaguely metallic noise, liked oiled steel plates sliding atop one another. After several minutes, that gives way to...well, a whole smorgasbord of things. Credits list four tape recorders (sounds like turntables as well) and I'm wondering, given what I saw Kirby capable of accomplishing last fall at AMPLIFY:stones, whether this might be a live performance; I wouldn't be totally surprised, though the depth achieved, one way or another, is very impressive. Describing it is difficult, not the least because of it shifting substance, snatches of near-recognizable music of various genres (hip hop represented with some prominence but "Beautiful Dreamer" also stops in) butting shoulders and knees against a kind of swirling electronics that summons, to my mind, Pierre Henry, even Terry Riley at his most abstract.

Personally, I don't have long patience with this mode of attack, at least these days. It's interesting that it almost achieves a kind of white noise aspect by evening out the playing field so that one sound more or less equates to another, but that "almost" doesn't negate the nagging identifying tendency one has as you try to mentally find patterns, look for logical or dream-logical associations, etc. Kirby may well have employed some system or structural design or he may have free associated, but while any given three minute segment retains a goodly amount of intrigue, as a whole, it's an overwhelming, sheer mass of data that ends up leaving bruises but few other lingering impressions or thoughts, though the maelstrom that occupies the final ten or so minutes is cohesive and quite beautiful. An oddly mixed bag, then.

Mites - Passing Resemblance (Copy for Your Records)

Mites (Grisha Shaknes) continues his streak of fine, fine recordings. I supposes there's a certain amount of collage aesthetic at work in the use of processed field recordings and samples (is that Derek Bailey popping up at the end of the first track?) but the conception is more cohesive, thicker, elusively logical, something I find myself slipping into quite easily and not asking questions. As on the earlier releases, the sheer sensual enjoyment provided by the sound selection, the positioning of some sounds with others, goes a great distance toward the music's success. He keeps a quasi steady-state structure going, bleeding from one matrix to the next, the various strands of irregular (though long) length, the dynamics mutating, though rarely abruptly, almost always including at least one rough, granular current in the mix.

In the relatively brief second cut, "Comfort", one head distant incantatations of some kind (Islamic? Hebrew? --we are in Israel, after all) buried in a fibrous static that could be rushing air. A bell tolls indistinctly, faint car engines, a bird--great little snapshot. The third and longest track, "Why Elephants Are Not Allowed to Cross a Bridge" (Grishas has a way with titles), begins in rumbling, troubled quiet, It remains there a good while, gradually become more agitated, yet still contained, pops and crackles sounding like muted, distorted gunshots. But they resolve into non-incendiary noises, perhaps the pops and squeaks of dock timbers. A voice speaks in Arabic, more quiet shuffling, silence, furtive sounds, a dull gong struck regularly. It leaves in a dense, thorny wash.

Absorbing all the way through, strong work.

Bryan Eubanks/Jason Jahn - Energy (Of) (Copy for Your Records)

A live recording from September 2011 and an enjoyably raucous and chafing one. I still have a nagging habit of, in Kahn's case, thinking of the many more or less steady-state recordings he did and live performances I witnessed and have repeatedly had to kick myself out of that rut to realize there's much more afoot in his world. While you pick up shards of that approach in this set, it's one piece out of many, slithering through Eubanks' harsher, crackling, howling electronics; clearly I'm making some assumptions as to who was responsible for what. It's a pretty much non-stop assault, maintaining enormous density and at least fair volume throughout, but sliding from area to area rather than abruptly shifting, which acts as a welcome kind of glue to my ears. It's the kind of set that could easily slip over into a kind of noisy randomness that bores but it really never does, each shift, addition, subtraction carrying with it a certain kind of forward propulsion, a hurtling forth that works at that moment as well as arousing in the listener an anticipatory curiosity. As ever, I'm interested/baffled as to why, to these ears, it can work in one instance but not in another.

In any case, much fun, much excitement and makes me wish I'd been there. Check it out.

copy for your records

also available from erstdist

Friday, June 22, 2012

Michael Pisaro/Toshiya Tsunoda - crosshatches (Erstwhile)

I should say right off that I think this is a fantastic, all-around great release. At first hearing, it seemed that it would be obvious how to quantify the whys and wherefores of this opinion but each listen made this task more and more obscure. Which is likely another reason I think "crosshatches" is pretty great.

I should say that it's tough for me to shake the notion that it's more a Pisaro set than a Tsunoda one, obviously an error but the overall conception of the pieces seem to fit quite well into a type of structure that Pisaro's worked with in the past, particularly the Transparent City pieces, of which "crosshatches" seems to be, at least in part, a beautiful, flowering extension, maintaining the rigor found there but elaborating on it. In the earlier works, sine tones were chosen to roughly correlate with the perceived "pitches" of field recordings, resulting in a wonderful, silvery strand weaving through the soundscape. Here, one hears echoes of that, sometimes (it seems to me) very clear echoes but that strand has become a vine with tendrils and rhizomes, embedding itself in the earth, water and machinery, become an integral structural component.

Given the nature of the collaboration and the assumption (doubtlessly not always correct) that Tsunoda supplied much of what's recognizable as field recoding, Pisaro most of the instrumental/electronic elements, I'm fairly sure that it was merely a matter of embedding roughly musical sounds within a landscape but that there was much give and take, including the soundscpes embedding themselves within a guitar or piano chord, etc. But that only hints at the complexity and breadth of this project.

The first piece begins with a strong rush of wooly sound (wind of some sort), stops, converts to a softer but related draft, stops, then sine tones enter, rotating along their axis, acquiring other, vaguer sounds, low rumbles (very low, often), weaving, pulsing, very much charged, like a power line buried only inches below the surface of the ground, mixing with dirt, water air, nitrogen. It waits there for a good while, every second exciting, One tone, medium in pitch, comes to predominate, pure at first "glance" but made up of more than I think I can directly hear, soon joined by a harsher buzzing hum (delicious combination!), single guitar notes--or piano?-- (prefiguring a darker sequence that will appear in the closing track), then several guitars, each plucking single tones, like fireflies appearing one by one. An abrupt turn into...I'm not sure--wind, surf? with deep, deep buffeting, as of a mic by wind. Subtle hums re-emerge, hisses and a hyper-deep tone to conclude. Cinematic? Yes, very much so and extremely evocative in a way difficult to describe except to say that it elicits memories of places, sounds, smells in this listener and I imagine it would do the same for many.

As said, the pieces vary enough that it's tough to think of this as a suite in a normal sense, at least, at the moment of transition between tracks, though looking back there does seem to be an elusive connectedness. I'm not sure that simply describing the subsequent music would be of much benefit--the array of sounds expands well beyond those heard on the opener and the structures vary marvelously as well. It's not all serene and contemplative--the third of eight tracks (I failed to mention that this is a double disc, @ 85 minutes in toto)is largely rough, irregular static (?) of some kind, garrulous and unwieldy. The interweaving of apparently "natural" and electronic sounds is a fair constant, though I'm sure I mistook one for another on numerous occasions. But the positioning, the admixtures manage to cross the boundary between the merely "beautiful" and connote something deeper if, inevitably, ineffable. Why, say, bird sounds, metallic clanks and thin sine tones act together to evoke these feelings and memories is mysterious..

I will mention that the last two pieces are especially powerful, Pisaro (I take it) introducing a funereal low piano tolling in the final track that's extremely moving, managing to bridge that chasm between the severely abstract and the sincerely (not sentimentally) emotive. That's the overall experience of this set for me: a series of balances--rigor/expansiveness, thin/thick, abstract/evocative. An utterly perfect balancing act, leading to a very new and rich music.

A deep, incredible recording.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Rolf Julius - Raining (Western Vinyl)

The title track on this disc, all 54 minutes of it, lies somewhere between assaultive and extraordinarily immersive and once again raises the question, why do I find this field recording "good" and that one not so much. For one thing, I take it for granted that this work by the late Julius is a carefully constructed one, using as its sources some large number of recordings, kneading and layering them, binding them together into this dense mesh that plops the listener smack in the middle of the most active natural environment imaginable, with water, insects, birds, creaking trees, rain and Gaia knows what else. That's its main effect as well, its sheer hyper-real, 3D presence. played at low volume, it can coast along quite nicely as such, being dipped into or ignored by the listener as (s(he chooses, but when amplified, the sounds encroach on one's sensibilities to the point of claustrophobic paranoia. Though very much state in its way, sounds do change over its lifespan, new ones introduced periodically, but the overall effect is one of stasis, of a rich, humid, teeming environment that grows but stays essentially the same. This contributes to the aforementioned assaultive character, in a sense, and some may find the ordeal a bit too much. I think it would have been excellent at about 30 minutes but does rather overstay its welcome, while admittedly retaining a strong aural image throughout.

The subsequent quarter hour cut, "Weitflächig" is kind of Raining-lite and not unwelcome at all, Julius' electronics (camouflaged fairly well on the opener) acquiring at least equal footing with the "natural" sounds. Very frothy, kind of like an active pond surface, water striders zipping about, mosquito larvae emerging, sun dappling, detergent foam lapping...The final few minutes, "Music for a Glimpse Inward", are gentler still, all bird chirps and soft electrics.

An impressive, unfortunately posthumous release, fascinating and occasionally troublesome, a good thing.

Western Vinyl

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bruno Duplant/Barry Chabala - la nuit (roeba)

Three very attractive, long-range collaborations between Duplant and Chabala, All touch on the drone with the first perhaps being most clearly in that area. I'm not sure what instruments Duplant is wielding though his bass isn't in obvious evidence, maybe transmogrified into one of the many layers here. Surprisingly, after about ten minutes, it takes a sharp break, is silent for a little bit, then returns, droning but a tad janglier. Then another cessation.On the thrid return, the music grows much more aggressive and rich, the jangles more pronounced; I pick up the slightest smidgen of "No Pussyfooting" :-) A final brief coda, in the same neck of the woods, takes things out. In "far a go", Duplant lays down a ghostly, breathy mesh of sound with deeper, woolier echoes while Chabala picks out isolated, high ringing tones atop. It almost feels like a blues. Again, one is caught by surprise when a fluttery kind of rhythm appears, something like a cardboard box struck with a brush--a lovely sound--in a steady, fast beat. Near its end, there's some funereal tolling from the guitar and splash of synth-y sparkle (which I could have done without) and it vaults into a kind of Bryars-y/Bernard Herrmann-esque area, spooky and, by and large, effective. The title track's sounds are spaced a bit more widely, still with drone resonances but softer, less insistent, Chabala again clean-picking those sparse, crystalline high notes, recalling Fripp in "Moonchild" (!). It's the most diffuse piece here but, for me, also the most successful, the connections subtler, the sounds like nodules along a strand of fiber. A gentle, thoughtful work, concluding a very enjoyable recording.


Jamie Drouin/Sabine Vogel - Raumfluchten (Infrequency)

Another gorgeous cover!

And the music's really fine as well. Drouin (modular synth, radio) and Vogel (flutes, stones) fashion seven pieces that ably straddle the divide between the contemplative and the uneasy. The music is fairly quiet and casts a gentle kind of light at first blush but, as the sounds unfold, a troubled kind of knottiness emerges. As the disc progresses, this urgency becomes more and more apparent, full blown by the final track, yet still the tension remains, the synth reining in, to an extent, the vaulting, rampaging flute. This series of rooms, then ("Raumfluchten" translating to a suite of rooms) becomes something of a drama, a complex interchange. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but to my ears the personal-ness of this comes through strongly, more so than in most duos of improvised music. Drouin is reasonably restrained throughout, very adept at introducing commentary that's both respectful and provocative while Vogel seems more willing to push things into uncomfortable territory, her flutes bubbling, lava-like, stoking the furnace that forms a substrate.

A very consistent recording, each section flowing smoothly and fitting in with its neighbors; given the title, one can't help but think of open portals between rooms, walking through, looking back and considering what was said in the last one, looking forward into the net with some excitement and some trepidation.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Miguel Prado/Manfred Wertder - 2009 2 (Heresy)

The spate of recordings of actualizations of Werder's works continues apace with this relatively unique one from Prado, though not so surprising an approach, given his questioning spirit. The beginning reminds me of Michael Haneke's "Cache", wherein one watches a "real" shot of a house exterior and road for several minutes before becoming aware that one is actually, within the context of the film's story, watching a videotape. This disc opens with urban sounds, not dissimilar, in general form, to those heard on other Werder realizations like Jason Kahn's recent month-spanning effort. After a few minutes, however, we hear Prado's voice saying, in accented English, "I wonder why everyone most people play Manfred's compositions with field [pronounced by Prado, "filed"] recordings. Well, this is a field recording too." Whereupon he presses a switch and the recording, which we had been listening to as "real", ceases and one hears the subtler sounds of the room in which it had been playing. The real world, as it were.

After a few minutes of digital silence, we again hear an environmental recording, sounding like a large interior with a certain amount of work transpiring. Within this, or over it--who knows?--we hear Prado speaking quietly, apparently reading, on the edge of comprehensibility. There follows a brief portion where French is spoken, more silence and finally Prado again, this time his voice very much foregrounded, once more apparently reading a text but in a tired, world-weary, almost whining tone.

Several reactions: the muffled voice portion was the most satisfying, for me, in aural terms but I'm forced to wonder whether, were that generally the case, Prado would consider it the least successful. More saliently, given the (proper) preoccupation of Prado and his ofttimes companions (Mattin, Chamy, etc.) with audience engagement and the antipathy toward passive reception, I wonder whether the inclusion of text subverts that notion or at least makes it far more problematic. With something like the recent Jason Kahn, whatever problems one might have had as to its reason for existing as a recording (rather than the listener going out and actuating it his or herself), one could at least allow it to float in one's own environment, to ignore it, to let it sink in to whatever else was occurring. Here, the voice compels one to pay attention, at least the first time or two through, to, out of "courtesy" attempt to understand the text. Interesting problem.

The score for "2009 2", incidentally consists of two quotations, the first from Alain Badiou: "ce qui « commence » n'est pas le 1 comme signe opaque de l' « unité », mais le zéro comme suture de toute langue à l'être de la situation dont elle est la langue" ("that which "begins" is not the 1 as opaque sign of "unity", but zero as suture of all language to the being of the situation of which it is the language") and one from Francis Ponge: "le pré, aussi, est une façon d'être" ("The field, too, is a way of being")

Jarrod Fowler - Rhythmics (Heresy)

Fowler's (it says, "Flower" on the disc's spine, but I'll go out on a limb and assume that's a misprint) "Rhythmics" could, I imagine, be another Werder actualization, but it's not. His description, crossed through though it is, seems to indicate taking things at face value insofar as the recorded sources, all natural world sounds, heavy on the bees and other insects (mosquitos!). I take it that there's been a good deal of post-recording assemblage unless he recorded in extremely densely populated (by bugs) areas as the sheer thickness of the sound is sometimes overwhelming. To the extent one thinks of it as a composition, "Rhythmics does have a fine flow to it, surges as natural sounding as gusts of wind. It's never quite ignorable, too much detail packed in--not sure if that's a plus or not. But, hell, I liked it. Nice earthy feel; you can smell the grass, and feel the itch of bites.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Jeb Bishop - Burning at Jazz ao Centro (JACC)

Clearly, I'm somewhat at a loss writing about no-nonsense jazz recordings like this one. Although I cut my teeth on just this sort of music, it's been quite some time since I've paid a great deal of attention to it so, at the very least, my frame of reference is 10-15 years old. With that caveat...

Amado is a Portuguese saxophonist, mostly tenor from what I can ascertain, joined by trio members Miguel Mira (cello) and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums) as well as, for this occasion trombonist Jeb Bishop. Amado's sound, to my ears, comes very much from Shepp and there's a similar rollicking, burly abandon in the three pieces presented here. "Burning Live" actually has some of the lilt of Rivers' "Fuchsia Swing Song", cascading along with nicely loose points of convergence along the way. "Imaginary Caverns" has more of a ballad structure, though things bubble and grow boisterous midway through. This is where I hear Shepp most clearly; Amado's tone is rich and burred and he's a more inventive player than the Vandermarks of this world. As I said, not my area of strong interest anymore, but had I been pulled along to a Vision Fest and witnessed this band, I wouldn't have been upset. Both Mira, in some drone playing and Ferrandini, in a nice toms and sticks solo, perform quite well on this track. The final cut, "Red Halo" returns to the raucous, though silvery smooth action of the first, Bishop especially churning . This one comes closest, for me, to capturing some of the magic that one might have heard from the aforementioned classic saxophonists in their prime. If, given my druthers, I'd rather listen, when things are said and done, to Shepp, Greenlee, Brown and Harris, well, that's my own choice and many others seriously disagree. For them, to the best of my knowledge, you'd be hard pressed to find a better contemporary example of that tradition than records like this one.


Culture of Un - Moonish (Bocian)

Wherein Chris Abraham (piano) and David Brown (prepared guitars, acoustic and "semi-acoustic") create music very much out of the Cagean tradition; the Cage of the 40s, that is. A fair question, in relation to the above write-up, might be, "Is this pair essentially doing, on the 20th-21st century avant-classical front, what musicians like Amado are doing in Jazz?" In this instance, I think the answer may be reasonably close to "Yes". As with the previous recording, the musicians are quite accomplished and pull off things with aplomb and a certain amount of creativity and excitement. Abraham's prepared piano (as set up here) conveys an even more direct reference to the sounds heard on Cage's "Sonatas and Interludes" than Amado's tenor does to Shepp and Rivers. More, though differently constructed than the earlier works (presumably at least partly improvised, though I sense some pre-ordained patterns) they're not a world apart from them. Given all this, is the music a good, interesting listen? Again, I'd say, "Yes." The interplay is always engaging, the sounds themselves captivating and varied, each instrument chiming with its own character. Abraham clearly has a melodic soul lurking beneath the abstraction and it serves him well. Brown also doesn't stray too far into aridity, alluding again more to Cage's piano music than Bailey or other improvising guitarists. There is a bit of sameness in approach over the span of the disc; I would have liked to have heard a couple quieter, more probing tracks perhaps. But as enjoyable to post-Cageans as the Amado will be to post-Coltranians.


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Ten new releases from Creative Sources. I hope Ernesto will forgive me, but I'm rather swamped with releases at the moment so I'm only going to write about the members of this litter I enjoyed. The others are listed at the end.

Axel Dorner/Ernesto Rodrigues/Abdul Moimeme/Ricardo Guerreiro - Fabula (Creative Sources)

Trumpet, viola, prepared electric guitar and computer. The best music I've heard from Rodrigues and the projects he's involved with have been much along the path of this one. The musicians manage to be relatively busy yet avoid any gabbiness, don't employ drones yet establish a firm cohesion. This is a live performance from December of 2011, solidly realized and enjoyable throughout. Dorner's gusts are, if familiar, still invigorating and Moimeme supplies just enough tonal tonic to add a thin, sweet crust to the otherwise severe sounds. Guerreiro is, I think, new to me and he's outstanding here, contributing varied textures that slither around the musicians here, sandpaper them there. Sure, there are moments when things veer a tad toward the obvious, where effects take on a life of their own rather than serving a larger purpose, but these occasions are quickly reined in, even used as impetus for the next step back on the path. The textural range and dynamics shift and morph in a natural manner--really, everything about the performance works. It won't knock you out, but will thoroughly satisfy you.

Alexander Elgier/Victor Grinenco/Samuel Sahlieh - Veiled (Creative Sources)

One of the aspects of Creative Sources I value is introducing me to players of whom I've never heard, know nothing about, but have produced wonderful work. Elgier (piano), Grinenco (violin, hardingfele--a Norwegian hardinger fiddle--, objects, electronics) and Sahlieh (synth, bass guitar, tapes) fashion a rather exquisite, AMM-like environment over the course of less than a half-hour, investigating carefully and with precision, taking their time, allowing the sounds to breathe. Elgier clearly owes something to Tilbury though his sound is drier, imparting a welcome crispness to the music where, I presume, Sahlieh provides the thicker, richer drones. fine tension is created throughout, gently antagonistic sounds stating their cases from across a room--brittle vs smooth, gloppy vs. stringent, always with that sense of room, all too often missing from much work in this area. Are there points at which things unravel a bit? Sure, notably some string playing that's a bit too idiomatic now and then. But overall, "Veiled" is a really fine effort, one worth seeking out and which arouses, in me, strong curiosity about the participants.

Dominic Lash/Chris Cundy - Two Plump Daughters (Creative Sources)

18 engaging duos between Lash (double bass) and Cundy (bass clarinet), very warm and, as is emphasized in the liners, very woody. I was reminded at times of Holland/Bracxton--some of these sound as they could have arisen from a hitherto unknown session from 1971. I mean this in a good sense, btw; they manage to capture some of the same kind of magic, the same exploratory glee and purely sensual abandonment, tumbling through the multitude of gorgeous sounds that these instruments are capable of producing. As in the recordings I referenced in my write-up of Sum the other day, this pair manages to recapture a certain spirit, not the free jazz blowout but ore the kind of thing one heard on ECM early in its existence, a tempering of the insect-like efi world, edging toward an almost pastoral one, but where rigor and gentleness carried equal weight. A great joy to listen to, full of imagination and smarts.

Tom Soloveitzik/Korhan Erel/Kevin Davis - Three States of Freedom (Creative Sources)

Saxophones, computer and cello. I went back and forth on this one. It often evinces a skittery character that sometimes struck me as excessively busy but, through the actual colors used--very liquid and silvery--had a tendency to tickle. and when the trio pauses and allows some spareness to creep into the music, it's very fine. Tending toward quiet, all the usual extended techniques on view and nothing that, in some sense, we haven't experienced before, but overall capably handled, not overbearing, not overstaying its welcome. I'd be curious to hear any of the musicians in varied settings.


The other releases received were:

Richard Barrett/Han-Earl Park - Numbers
Cyprien Busolini/Frantz Loriot - violatwoviola
Olivier Dumont/Rodolphe Loubatiere - Nervure
Elisabeth Flunger/Tomas Tello - Labor
Louis Laurin/Rodolphe Loubatiere/Yoann Durant - Au Dehors
Ernesto Rodrigues/Christine Abdelnour/Axel Dorner - Nie

Creative Sources

Sum - invenio ergo (Matchless)

Let it not be said that the mere inclusion of a haggis will more favorably dispose me toward the accompanying CD... :-)

Sum (Eddie Prevost, Ross Lambert--provider of aforementioned, delicious, haggis, for which I extend deep thanks) and Seymour Wright) offer up to lengthy live sets from Cafe Oto in 2009 of relatively unabashed free jazz. This release has been around a couple of years and other reviews can be found here so I won't get into the details so much. I do think it provides a kind of object lesson, to these ears, of how certain things work and others don't.

While granted my prejudices in this field (that is, current attempts at maintaining the free jazz form), I'm certainly more open to what I hear as unexpectedly strong ventures in that direction when I do come across them than many of my peers. The Ames Room, for instance or Will Guthrie's recent "Sticks, Stones and Breaking Bones". Indeed, Prevost's solo on his duo release with von Schlippenbach from around this same time just blew me away. So I try to figure out why the recording at hand fails to move me in a similar manner and the thing that leaps to the forefront is the lack, on the one hand, of the go-for-broke, "headfirst into the flames" (to crib from Last Exit) approach of Ames Room or, on the other, of the sheer discipline and incorporation of AMM-like awareness heard in Eddie's solo (Guthrie's solo combines both attacks, I think). Herein, with all the references to Coltrane etc., there's a kind of jam session aura to it that, despite the knowledge that the participants obviously possess, doesn't transcend into the extraordinary. That may not be the intent, to be sure. But if it's a kind of deconstruction, of using the language of 60s-70s free jazz and applying to it the lessons learned post-AMM, I can't quite see the point. At least here. As mentioned, Eddie accomplished this marvelously in that solo but, try as I might, I can't pick up the same level of acumen. Every so often as toward the end of the second disc, one gets a glimpse of, if not *their* goal, what *I* was looking for--Wright producing soft flutters, Lambert, gentle chimes and Prevost with subtle brushwork. It needn't be all balls to the wall, of course, and this music doesn't attempt that but, all too often, I find myself thinking that had I listened blindfold and then been told that it was a Marty Ehrlich/Michael Gregory Jackson/Pheeroan Ak Laff session from 1978, I mightn't have raised an eyebrow.

Or I'm just missing something salient.


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Cremaster - Live at Audiograft (Consumer Waste)

An unruly, nodose nugget of sound from our old friends Alfredo Costa- Monteiro (electroacoustic devices) and Ferran Fages (feedback, mixing board, electroacoustic devices) in this set from just over three months ago as I write. Ungainly too, very tough to get one's ears around, the sounds veering between keens and deep thuds, often at the same time, giving one only the merest glimpses of any "true" form, like shapes seen in flashes of light. I've gone back and forth over the course of the half dozen listens I've given it (it's only 26 1/2 minutes long), often discovering new elements or relationships between same that tend to "cement" a given section for me even as another adjacent one might crumble. Kind of fascinating, that. It's certainly a rough go, though in a purely sonic sense, not as harsh as your average balloon and needle release, say; there's more of a molded feel here, with a very rich range of sources. That mght be the thing, that it steers one toward certain expectations as to how the whole will somehow come into focus but it never quite does. It comes this close to degenerating into a random enough conglomeration to cause the throwing up of hands, but never quite does that either. That, in the last five or six minutes, things begin to jell, erm, "traditionally", only reinforces the gnarliness of the first 20 minutes. It's all quite frustrating!

I guess that means it's pretty good work, causing this listener to think a fair amount and to doubt his thoughts.

Noé Cuéllar and Joseph Kramer are Coppice, using shruti box, filters and tapes. It an agreeable and yummy mix of sounds, generally, the reedy drones of the mini-organ (along with, I think, other extended sounds derived therefrom) bump up against the electronics, the latter often clunky and pleasingly awkward. Where the various whooshes and other elements arise from, I'm rarely certain. The music is loose, sometimes a bit too much so perhaps and there's a small tendency toward meandering--some editing, live or post may have helped--but it regularly rights ship and passes some intriguing shores before winding up and, in toto, the disc progresses well, cresting toward the end. Rhythms are introduced on occasion, but they're the result of the internal workings of the machines involved more than the instincts of the players, an effect that serves to cast a good, icy pall over some minutes here. Overall, it strikes me as akin to the music produced by the younger NYC-based denizens of the eai world over the past few years, which is to say, adventurous with some very good ideas, not always fully formed but not bad at all and well worth watching.

Consumer Waste