Arturas Bumšteinas is a young (b. 1982) Lithuanian composer and an extremely active one from what i gather. I'd recently heard and written about a work of his (Three Sixteens on the con-v label) and he kindly sent three discs for further listening and consideration. From what I've heard, his range is pretty wide and, while some aspects give me pause, there's also always something else at play that grabs me.
"Uniforms", on the Polish Bôłt label from 2008 and performed by the Lithuanian State Wind Orchestra, explores various minimalist influences though to my ears, not so much of the first generation but rather of the following, as represented in the work of Carl Stone in the late 80s, early 90s. This is especially the case in the near-title piece, "This Uniform", derived from a 3-second sample of "an unknown jazz song", substantially reconfigured, which recalls works like Stone's "Gadberry's" from his album, "Mom's", though Bumšteinas thickens the mixture with rising string lines (that actually remind me of Tenney's "For Ann, Rising") and other elements. It eventually mutates into something quite his own, however, a keening mass of high tones; very impressive. His compositions are often highly complex in construction, like "Glockenspiel", using sample from same, extracting select tones, amplifying those, accompanying the whole by a kind of Greek chorus of low reeds, all resting on a detuning sine tone, the initially clunky percussive rhythms (minimalist only as, possibly, a distant reference to Louis Andriessen) acquiring an odd clockwork life of their own. Very intriguing piece, this.
There's something difficult to define about the sampler sound itself that occasionally seems anachronistic here; do samplers as such impart a recognizable tinge to their samples? But it's the knotty structures that carry the day here, even if I can't help but hit on (in "Second Sequentina", a piece derived in, um, part from Arvo Pärt samples) tastes of Einstein-era glass and organ swells connoting certain prismatic features of Einsteinian space...
It's a bracing collection, well worth seeking out.
"My Own Private Bayreuth" is the result of a frustrated would-be attendee of the festival of Wagner's music who, having been put on a nine-year waiting list for tickets, decided to, each year, hold his performances of various scores, here assembled from rehearsal performances of an 18-piece ensemble. I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough about Wagner's music to identify most of the sources, not that I imagine it matters. We hear pretty cohesive pieces that float and eddy more than the originals (think of a classic Bryars kind of treatment) with electronics, record skips and extraneous sounds interpolated. The balance between source and modernization can rest uncomfortably. There would be, say woodwind passage of eerie beauty (perhaps several Wagnerian lines overlaid?) but swathed in a kind of baby-cooing that seemed beside the point and bothersome. It's off and on interesting as sound manipulation but, to these ears, unsatisfying in conception. The electronic augmentation seems a bit heavy-handed, more often covering up otherwise intriguing music than expanding on it. I wouldn't mind at all hearing the tapes mixed in a more subtle manner though.
"Voicescapes" (on Semplice; the title sounds better in Lithuanian" "Balsovaizdziai") is a collaboration with saxophonist/clarinetist/pianist Liudas Mockūnas, honoring a prominent figure in Lithuanian turn of the (last) century art, the painter and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Bumšteinas is again using sampled sounds as well as synth, electro-acoustic sounds and violin, building systems that reflect traditional modes of expression--church choirs, for instance--reimagined via slicing and subtle reorientation. Mockūnas seems to command a Braxtonian range of reeds and apparently comes from an avant-jazz tradition but by and large reins himself in to the matters at hand when required, integrating well with the patterns, here lush, there sparse, that Bumšteinas has formulated. Tracks of more composed-sounding material abut seemingly improvised ones, the latter sparse and prickly but perhaps not quite holding their own against the former which are quite solid, forward-moving and richly detailed. Theres a feature for the saxophonist, in which he improvises capably, perhaps out of a kind of Roscoe Mitchell bag, though really sounding pretty much his own man. The music attains an admirable wildness at times, Bumšteinas letting loose on synth, but it's generally pulled back for subtler episodes, again recalling certain choral musics; its a balancing act that works more often than not. He's clearly attempting large things here and, if I think the aims are achieved only about half the time, it's a admirable attempt and he's a composer who bears watching.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Richard Kamerman - None for the Money (Copy for Your Records)
Kamerman's an amusing fellow though (apart from the name of his label) I don't think that side of him has shown so overtly before in the musical arena. "None for the Money" is in three sections, the first a suite of six pieces titled, "Twenty-Four Sycamores". The sounds employed aren't so far from what we've heard from Kamerman before--crinkly electronics, exposed circuitry, what-have-you--but there's something warmly comical about the way they're arrayed here, in repeating patterns, cavorting around happily and lightly. "Tau Pukka Patellae" (which sounds like an unusually oriented fraternity to me) abstracts things a bit further, using two channel of somewhat differing electronics, not exactly repetitive but, with their flow of liquid, bleeping tones, feeling as though there's an orbiting aspect in effect. It goes on for quite some time, however (23 minutes +), and I can imagine some listeners losing patience with the sameness, others losing themselves in the flux; me? I went back and forth on it.
"Again, Before the Sun Ryes" is the kicker. We hear a woman (I've no idea who) singing, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", accompanied by strummed guitar and accordion, the ditty gradually encroached upon by hissing electronics soon followed by a full-on squall, quite invigorating. The disc closes with a brief, darkly woolly piece, like a close-up recording of crumpled fabric.
A fun recording, relatively accessible as these things go, well worth hearing.
Tandem Electrics - big hearts, small rats (Copy for Your Records)
A chewy, altogether delish, 16-minute nugget from Kamerman and Reed Evan Rosenberg. As above, things commence with music from elsewhere, her a muted playback of a slow-paced, gospel/funk (?) track that's extremely lulling and lovely (curious to know what it is) that pours out smoothly before, perhaps inevitably, being torn to shreds by moments of feedback that will send spouses and pets filing for orders of separation. The music vaults between extremes for much of the track but there's a ton of detail in the harshness and one never has the sense of gratuitous noise; there's an emergent sense of structure here that I find quite wonderful, something that's appeared on occasion before with this pair, both live and on recording. It's a very cool thing--maybe 2/3 of the way through, the previous 10 minutes suddenly make great sense and the subsequent five or six seem absolutely appropriate. The 16 minutes just hurtles by; I was consistently surprised when the piece ends. Really good work, the best I've heard yet from them.
Ferran Fages - Life Best Under Your Seat (Copy for Your Records)
I admit it took me an unreasonable length of time to get the pun in the title...
I also have to say that I'm unable to listen to this disc, which I nonetheless greatly enjoy, in the way that Fages suggests, repositioning ones speakers so they're facing walls, ceilings, etc. ; the orientation of mine doesn't allow such casual manipulation! I never, though, use headphones, so I'm at least able to follow that instruction.
What we have are subtle, often quite soft layers of electronics--some sine waves, others form computers and contact mics. Nothing terribly new but, as he's shown in the past in a variety of "languages", Fages has a very thoughtful musical way of organizing sounds that quite appeals to me. I can imagine the sounds muffled by adjoining walls and by playing the recording at low volume level can possibly approximate this effect, the majority being a soft tinging of the atmosphere with the occasional glimmer provided when the dynamics rise and sharpen. It's quite lovely in and of itself and would certainly be a fine cloud to walk through in an installation environment.
Yet another fine addition to the Fages catalog.
Copy for Your Records
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/25/2012 09:54:00 AM No comments:
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Jason Lescalleet - Songs About Nothing (Erstwhile)
First things first. As has been the case with previous Erstwhile releases by Lescalleet with Graham Lambkin, the disc packaging and, to some degree, the content therein refers to specific recordings by others. Here, the referent is Big Black's "Songs About Fucking", a 1987 Steve Albini-led trio. Not only are the album cover and typography the same (though sans the perspiring lady presumably in the throes of the aforementioned activity) but the thirteen tracks that make up the first of two discs here, so I'm told, duplicate the durations of the original LP to a t. Additionally, Lescalleet's titles for the tracks are variations of those found on the Big Black record.
Now, I have never heard "Songs About Fucking". I take it that it's important--historically, nostalgically, whatever--to Lescalleet but as I don't share that history, I'll just state the above and move on. Well, wait, I see that the entire LP (only about 31 minutes) is on You Tube, so I'll give a listen on the laptop....ok, done. While there's something distinctly 80s about it to these ears, I can see the attraction. Not really my cuppa, but...
Each disc bears a title, the first being "Trophy Tape", containing those thirteen tracks. It's in interestingly tough listen, tough not so much as far as the individual tracks are concerned, but more in mentally soldering them together as a suite (they do pretty much bleed into one another). The approach is quite varied and includes, I'm presuming, numerous (manipulated) samples though I can't identify a one of them. I actually find the trainspotting-ish notion something of a distraction and prefer to listen to it as abstract music which is where the difficulty sets in, but also the fascination. It opens with a cochlear disintegrator that plants us firmly in the world of the Lescalleet we know and love, piercing shards, momentarily descending into a foam of electronics, quickly rising for another assault--primo stuff. And then, abruptly, lurches into the most fuzz-drenched dub-metal march you'll ever hear (cribbed from somewhere? I'd guess so, but no clue, really); even this quickly loses the gristle, settles into an almost jaunty rhythm, trucks for a while. A snatch of shakily recorded piano, classical sounding, skid off into a higher-pitched variant on the initial sounds, that masked by juicy drones (altered strings, I think) and finally a quick snatch of guitar and voice that sounds vaguely Morricone-ish (or, thinking on it, a tiny sliver from Scott Johnson's "John Somebody" for which, if true, I should get a prize); a really odd track stuck amidst an odd set. This kind of melange within a melange continues for a bit, elements overlaid and morphing into one another, not Zorn circa 1990-like, but far more organic without any archness. I find myself going back and forth between simply appreciating the sonics, which are often glorious (and not seldom extreme), and trying to piece together the whole. The sixth track contains spacey, muted vocals that sound almost recognizable, and a phased shuffling rhythm sort of like the backward beats in "Are You Experienced?" The second half of this disc gradually tilts toward the less violent (slightly), with burred washes, distanced throbs; here recalling Lucier, there Barry Adamson. Now a low, pebbly growl, then a light, tinny beat, like atrophied mbiras. Monkish chants, a cut from, perhaps, a film, involving a man rueing that the pizzazz is being taken out, birds and crickets, a very loud car kidding to a stop next to your foot...I'm betting there's a ton more buried in there, mutated, hidden in nooks. But you get the picture, maybe. It ends with a flurry of harsh electronics and a few gentle pops and tidal spatters, really a lovely piece in and of itself but as disorienting as everything else here.
In a different way, but just as intensely, this seems to be as thoroughly personal recording as his extraordinarily moving and amazing, "The Pilgrim"; You have to give yourself up to it more readily than for most music, to kind of wallow in the Lescalleetness of it. (no Lescalleetlessness here).
Disc two, Road Test, is a different creature entirely, a single track some 41 minutes in length, divided into several broad sections, bearing no overt resemblance to the Big Black record as far as I can tell. There's one thing that's seriously frustrating for me, right at the beginning where you hear a voice in recording studio saying, "Wait a minute", then, "Rolling, take one." I know I recognize this but I can't for the life of me place it and know I'll kick myself when I find out what it is. Be that as it may....we drift into some fine electronics (and voices--Arabic? Hebrew? I know Lescalleet did some recording at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem--and a helicopter) which I imagine is sourced from somewhere but whatever, it's thick, mysterious and wonderful. At some almost indistinguishable point (perhaps it was this all along, artfully disguised) I find myself listening to a warped version of the already warped electronic parts that appear late into Terry Riley's magnificent "You're No Good". I cheerfully admit to chuckling when I first heard this. The transfiguration is great, layer upon layer of those buzzerlike pitches swathed in swirls of countless densities, with clangor underneath. I may not be too keen on a lot of reuse of material, but here it strikes a perfect balance between root and elaboration. And it goes on for a fine, long time. I imagine those a bit younger than yours truly, who had the (mis)fortune to mature in the early 80s, might derive a substantial kick from the next referral, following a lengthy, sonorous, complex drone and a fantastic windy/fire crackling sequence. I cheated and googled the lyrics to discover (hide your eyes if you prefer to be surprised) that Lescalleet had unearthed a Depeche Mode track called "It's No Good" (leading me to ponder whether that scrap of verbiage at the beginning might be from something with "no good" in its title...). When I saw Lescalleet recently at The Stone, prior to the set proper he was playing an old Donovan song, "To Susan on the West Coast Waiting" on an ancient 45 box-player, its rotation, possibly due to natural effects of aging, having slowed and skewed. I was reminded of that when the Depeche Mode track kicks in, equally disfigured, a winning combination of humor and, I have to say, nifty song, fading out, ambling away with a bounce in the step.
Even given all this, I bet I'm missing a whole bunch. I still think "The Pilgrim" is the finest music I've heard from him, but this is up there. Give a listen.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/22/2012 05:56:00 PM 2 comments:
Sunday, August 12, 2012
(Various) - Echtzeitmusik Berlin (Mikroton)
A companion to the book, in a sense, but whereas aural documentation of the sounds that took place during the course of the time period covered there would have been fine, happily the choice was made to present many of the same musicians involved with the generation of that scene in works from recent years. I don't know the scene there intimately at all, but I'm guessing this gives a reasonable approximation of at least a portion of what's been occurring. Three discs worth (41 cuts! so, as will almost inevitably be the case with compilations, there's some hit and miss, there's a decidedly healthy amount of good stuff contained herein. In a case like this, with so many tracks (most between five and seven minutes long), there's not much to do but list some highlights, so...
1) Michael Vorfeld, "Light Bulb Music, No.2" --good staticky humming work with intriguing muffled-bell sounds; one of the better slabs of music I've heard from him
2) Sink (Chris Abrahams, Marcello Busato, Andrea Ermke, Arthur Rother) - rich, post Fennesz (noisier) work; potentially great soundtrack music.
3) Subroutine (Robin Hayward, Morton J.Olsen) - lovely, dark tuba/rotating bass drum pairing, spare and moving.
4) Thomas Ankersmit, "Geen Dank" - electronics, from fine, low rumbles, to ice needles, very impressive.
5) Perlonex - "Blues No. 2"--actually slightly bluesy! And lovely, detuned guitar with percussive clatter, really nice.
6) The Pitch Extended (Boris Baltschun, Koen Nutters, Olsen, Michael Thieke, Johnny Chang, Hayward, Chris Heenan), "Frozen Orange Extension", a fine, dry drone, La Monte-ish and fascinating.
1) Phosphor - "P13" More active than I might have expected given prior work (though this is from 2006), but very engaging in a whisperingly scurrying way,
2) a subtle flutes/electronics and turntable duet from Sabine Vogel and Ignaz Schick, all curvy, dark and sensuous.
3) a typically (but no less enjoyably) awkward and bumpy work from Annette Krebs using tapes, vocal samples etc.
4) Lucio Capece/Christian Kesten - an precise, exquisite piece for low level percussive and vocal noises.
5) Germ Studies (Chris Abraham/Clare Cooper) - "Burning Burning". A synth/guzheng duo that begins a little rickety but gathers fine momentum as it progresses, oddly propulsive and a strange, ultimately satisfying mixture of sounds.
6) Phono_Phono - "Ghost 1". Mayas, Vogel and Renkel, always enticing, here a mix of dark, eerie and dreamily bright (the guitar), in a piece that's oddly uncomfortable for all it's seemingly welcoming aspects. Quite good.
7) Andrea Neumann/Sabine Ercklentz - "Vers[rechten". Another wonderfully disorienting and disturbing work, medling various long, thin tones with skittering sounds, skipping discs and other detritus. Would love to have heard more of this...
(Disc 3) (which contains the most straightforward music of the set)
1) The Understated Brown (Boris Hauf, Steve Heather, Thomas Meadowcroft) - "Long Bow Drawn". A (surprising) rocking, organ-driven piece, sounding like an updated, skewed Tony Williams Lifetime.
2) Nicholas Bussmann/Werner Dafeldecker - Untitled. Intriguing work for cello and bass using only deep knocks on the bodies, in slow rhythm, that subtly excite the strings. Mysterious and impressive.
3) Fernanda Farah/Chico Mello - "How Many Years". An engaging, Ashley-esque song for voices and piano, overlapping an everyday discussion.
4) Hotelgäste (Dave Bennett/Derek Shirley/Michael Thieke) - Aus dem Fenster. A lovely, soft, somber guitar/bass/clarinet piece, pensive and almost pastoral--in the International Nothing's vein.
5) Hanno Lechtmann/Andrea Neumann - "Leptothri". Raw, wrenching inside-piano with a dark, regular thrum. Post-industrial throb, scary and intense.
6) LYSN (Alfredo Genpvesi, Steve Heather,Rozemarie Heggen, Hilary jeffrey) - "eleven Legs Landing". Um...if you can imagine late 80s Wayne Horviyz having evolved into some really interesting music....this might be it. Very nice.
oh sure, there are some clunkers in here, but by and large it's a worthwhile collection to have, some semi-precious stones embedded herein.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/12/2012 07:53:00 PM 1 comment:
Morton Feldman - Crippled Symmetry (Frozen Reeds)
Though I'd heard bits and pieces earlier, I first seriously delved into Feldman (way belatedly) upon the hat[NOW] release of the 1990 session of this same trio performing "Why Patterns?" and "Crippled Symmetry". So for me, these pieces retain a kind of touchstone quality and are always the first things I think of when Feldman's name arises even if, gun to head, I'd save the Tilbury sessions before all else. In truth, as a composition I prefer "Why Patterns?" and in particular count its closing moments, in this performance, as among the most heavenly music I've ever experienced.
"Crippled Symmetry" was written for that trio (Eberhard Blum, flute, alto flute, bass flute; Jan Williams, glockenspiel, vibraphone; Nils Vigeland, piano, celesta) and they thought to perform and record the work a decade after the original session, in 2000, the results of which are before us. I listened to the original just today and it still sounds so great--so warm and expansive, so rich, so wonderfully paced. It's truly beyond my memory capacity to directly compared the two recordings; the piece clocks in at 91 minutes on the 1990 session, a little short of 90 on the new one. This is a live recording and I might opine that the sound quality is a bit drier than the other, but that would be a quibble.
I get the impression that some sections are taken a little quicker, some allotted a tad more time but it's of no real consequence. Feldman's work, interpreted with such sensitivity, stands on its own as an incredibly conceived long-duration composition. I'm guessing that there are no two adjacent measures which are identical, even as the air of similarity and motionlessness immerses one. That "simple" notion of phased patterns with irregular metric relationships to one another vaults you to a fascinating plane, all the more so when played with such attention, when (as does Tilbury) the musicians shade their own playing with slight durational shifts and subtle pressure fluctuations. Feldman's late work breathes like nothing else. One could listen forever.
Apart from this, what else is there to say? You have a great Feldman composition given an loving, deep rendition. Such a beautiful thing. Why would you not want to have this?
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/12/2012 08:15:00 AM 1 comment:
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Acker Velvet - Carbon & Chairs (Monotype)
Acker Velvet is Andreas Trobollowitsch and Johannes Tröndle, the latter a cellist and possibly represented as such here (though another, Meaghan Burke is also sampled here) though he point of these tracks, I think, is less the initial sound sources than their recombination, expansion and mutation via computer. Which isn't to say that the music sounds so "computerese"; it doesn't. There's something of a fluctuation between contemporary chamber music and the sort of post-rock heard a decade and more back from Godspeed! You Black Emperor, especially in a piece like "Emma" with its dark, throbbing beat, desultorily strummed guitar and ancillary noise. Which isn't to say I don't like it--I do! Elsewhere, they sounded like an attenuated version of Hector Zazou/Bony Bikaye, weaving exotica rhythms and colors, teased out almost to vapor. It splays out from there, melting into drips and clicks, often with hazy pulses beneath, always bubbling, never feeling crowded. Everything sounds extraordinarily attractive, almost to a fault, but maybe think of it as akin to an especially good for4ears release and you're on the right track. Werner Kitzmüller makes an effectively Sylvian-like vocal appearance on the penultimate track and a gentle set of guitar-y chimes, like several overlaid "Moonchild"'s takes us out. Very enjoyable, easily digestible music, recommended.
Éric Normand - Data (Monotype)
Normand (electric bass, electronics, mics) in duos with Christine Abdelnour (alto), Martin Tétreault (pick-up, surfaces, "rhythm'n sound for guitar"), Sebastien Cirotteau (amplified trumpet, mics--sometimes in mouth--, mixer) and Martin Gauthier (analogue synth, objects).
If you know Tétreault's work (with Abdelnour, the only musician, to the best of my recollection, that I'd previously heard) you have a pretty decent idea of what's in store. Active, airy and percussive music with little in the way of tonality or lushness, keening at some points, rumbling at others. Harsh, angular, chewy--it's fine but kind of melds together in an unmemorable way, too much of a piece with things one has heard before since the late 90s turntablism and cracked electronics. Not bad but not mandatory.
eRikm/Natacha Muslera - Cartouche (Monotype)
Ah, I've had my share of problems with eRikm's work for quite a while (here wielding CD-J, electronics, mouth organ and doing live sampling. Too much shrill noise, not enough thought, too much in the way of effect. Couple him with vocalist Muslera, often in shriek or chittering mode and, well, let's just say it's bot my cup of tea. Sometimes, I believe she's sampled and the music takes on a kind of anachronistic cast, the stuttering vocal samples sounding very much of the early 90s. Interestingly, the cut that works best for these ears is the only solo eRikm track, "Soulage", with syrupy high tones wreathing about one another, caking, splintering, very much a contiguous piece, no real sense of the frantic as in much else here. Diamanda Galas may be entitled to infringement compensation for "Labile"....
Spill (Magda Mayas/Tony Buck) - Fluoresce (Monotype)
The longstanding duo of Mayas (piano, clavinet, tiger organ [!!!}, harmonium, objects and preparations) and Buck (drums, tabla, percussion) offers up four juicy and altogether enjoyable tracks. Mayas, often (for me) manages to meld a Romantic streak into her playing, no matter how abstract, imparting a tonal richness that I find tremendously attractive. On the first piece here, "Steel Tide", buck compliments her perfectly, with cold ringing metal, leavening any sense of the over-sweet, allowing the Cagean prepared piano sounds to find a vibrant, other kind of life, not overtly kowtowing to Cage or anyone else. Lovely work. "Coalesce" is eerie and edgy, slithering around, skating past with odd taps and squeaks, Buck's drum set appearing, surprising in the context but working very well, as does Mayas' prickly piano later, though the piece overstays its welcome a tad as it eventually morphs into a kind of Tony Williams Lifetime semi-grooeve (the tiger organ? sounds like an old ring modulator); really not bad though, a kick in certain ways. Great groaning inside-piano and gong/cymbal work on "Galleon", creating a cavernous, wet feel, not unlike being trapped in the dark hull of a large...well...."Sermon" gets back to that Larry Young/Tony Williams territory and does so with much more force and vigor, a totally winning onslaught, with warped keyboard tones (clavinet? that organ?) and thick, loosely propulsive drumming from Buck. Fine early fusion revisited, messy, dirty and excellent. Oh, it might once agan go on a bit too long, but a minor quibble--"Still" is a good, solid recording, well worth hearing.
Alexei Borisov/Olga Nosova/Dave Philips - BORINOSOPHIL (Monotype)
Borisov and Nosova are new names to me, though I've heard (and seen) Philips before, never quite as impressed as many are in the noise scene. But I was braced for an all-out assault, so the beginning of the disc took me aback: soft, rather lovely hums with a metallic tinge, interfered with, quietly, by some gentle taps and hisses. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't last too long, gradually overcome by spliced voices, keening electronics, harsh scrabbling, etc. but the music never hurtles full-bore into any mic-down-the-throat wall of noise. In fact, the disc has substantial dynamic and structural range, which is the good news. But for this listener, there's also not so much that's engaging; a lot goes on, almost dizzyingly at times, but there's an arbitrary feel to it (as opposed to a random one), a lot of cool sounds signifying no great deal. I can just let myself wallow in it and find some satisfaction, but the moment I try to focus, to grasp more than the sensual pleasure (more or less) of the sounds, it evaporates. Maybe trying to be analytical isn't the way to come at this and that could be why much of the noise scene in the early 2000s left me cold, so take that with a raucous grain of salt. The music is well put together and that may be enough for many. Think noisy Fennesz.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/07/2012 07:46:00 PM No comments:
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Knittel, Krzysztof/Sikora,Elzbieta/Michniewski, Wojciech - Secret Poems (Bôłt)
KEW, as the trio comprised of the above members was known, formed in 1974. The three were students at the Fryderyk Chopin HIgher State School of Music in Warsaw and had pursued studies in electronic music as well as other forms. This 3-CD set includes three pieces by the trio as such, though the bulk is given over to solo creations, on by Michniewski appended to the trio performances and a single cd each for works by Knittel and Sikora.
I think it's fair to say (and not only because of the similarity in group names) that if one imagines an MEV coming out of the 60s tape collage aesthetic, you wouldn't be far off from the trio music here (all from the mid 70s), though with more of a sense of quiet and subtle referrals to tonal music. "In the Tatra Mountains" indeed begins with a composition of the same name by Wladyslaw Zelenski, very romantic in nature, which is then subject to various indignities. All three pieces evince a fine dynamic flow, muscle and grace interweaving as do electronic and acoustic elements, notably in "The Zones of Adherence" which contains enchanting and vigorous inside-piano activity, subtly enhanced with electronics. The group seems to have ceased activity as such by the end of the 70s (aside from a reuniting for a re-recording in 1993) which is a shame; I would have loved to have heard this music expanded upon.
Michniewski's "Whisperetto" (1973) is scored for six vocalists, reading/singing/ululating texts involving stereotypical women's issues. In performance, they're on different sides of the audience, illuminating their libretti with lights when making sounds, dark when not. Additionally, a bodybuilder flexed his wares on stage in rough accompaniment to the readings. Lacking the visual stimuli, it's reminiscent of a weaker variation on some of Penderecki's vocal compositions of the previous decade.
Knittel's work has great range, often incorporating "natural" sounds (or transformation thereof) alongside electronics, including speech, older music, a jazz combo, much more. At its strongest, on works like "norcet", he achieves a plasticity that's entirely convincing, a real palpable sense of organic presence, kind of a musical analog to a Frank Stella painted sculpture (or a Chamberlain deconstructed car). Again, that tape music sound is prevalent and that's something I'm always just a bit put off by, something too pat about it, but given that, the music is bracing, often scouring stuff. I'd love to be in a space with these lines zipping about me on well-placed speakers, slicing through the air, piercing. It's really good work and Knittel's yet another Polish musician I'm very grateful to have been exposed to.
And Sikora is even better. While she was quite capable of the spectacular (the opening homage to Pierre Schaeffer is sock-knock-offingly good (!!)), she's also far ore subtle, more sensitive, I think, to purely aural qualities, to the placement of sounds that makes one giddy in their adjacency. "View from the Window", which Zeitkratzer "covered" in their Bôłt release is just gorgeous, a wondrous journey "through hollow lands". A piece like "The Head of Orpheus" begins sapcily enough to be worrisome but gradually coalesces and ends with enormous, eviscerating brutality. I want to hear a great deal more of her work.
Once again, Bôłt performs the invaluable service of bringing to light music from Poland that many (including this listener) never even knoew existed, much to our (my) discredit. DO yourselves a favor and check it out.
DJ Lenar - Re:PRES (Bôłt)
Eugeniusz Rudnik is a Polish electronics composer, one of a number to have created work at PRES (Polish Radio Experimental Studio). LIstening to some of his work via YouTube (a good amount is available there), I have the impression of a vital composer, very much of the time (60s, by and large) whose work reflects that of other concurrent tape collage composers but also contains aspects and approaches that sound, to me, unique and interesting; I'm curious to hear his work in greater depth. (Two of his pieces appear on the PRES Revisited album on this same label).
Rudnik apparently conceived a huge number of quite short works, some of which have been exhumed and reconfigured here by DJ Lenar. As I'm at the disadvantage of not knowing the sources or to what extent they've been transmogrified, I'll simply give impressions of the pieces as heard. The tracks are brief (17 over the space of about 31 minutes). They're both redolent of their time and, I suspect, outside it, the former in the sense of tonality and timbre where that "tape sound" is often present, the latter in what I'm guessing is the addition of repetitive and looped elements. Still, there's good variety here however it was arrived at, spacey, cool bits abutting jagged ones with free guitar and piano blenderized, slowed, otherwise warped. Other portions edge toward a gloopy Hancock/Headhunters vibe (not unpleasantly) only to fragment into disparate shards. Almost inevitably, I thought of Raaijmakers now and then though there's a certain faint smoothness in effect here that gnaws at me, something you don't hear in Raaijmakers' work. Still, I enjoyed the disc overall, both on its own and for prodding me to seek out original work by Rudnick.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 8/05/2012 08:51:00 AM No comments:
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