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.


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