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

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