some all too brief reviews of things that have recently arrived. Apologies to the musicians for the brevity but time's been scarce.
Pascal Battus/Bertrand Gauguet/Eric La Casa - Chantier 4 (Swarming)
When I was in Paris 2013 - 2015, the second apartment in which I stayed was on Rue Adolphe Mille, which more or less ran along the western border of the Parc de la Villette in the 19th Arrondissement. On the opposite side of the park, the new Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel, was nearing its long-delayed completion. Eric La Casa, a master of in situ field recording/performance, lived just up the street as well and, in 2013, ventured into the site with percussionist and objectiste Pascal Battus and alto saxophonist Bertrand Gauguet. Their sounds largely blend into those produced by the environment, which include the general, wooly urban hum, the percussive noises of construction work and the voices of the workers themselves among many others. You can pick out likely contributions from Battus (though I'm sure some I think are his, aren't and vice versa) and the occasional reed flutter or thin keening of the sax, but all is pretty much of a piece. The recordings, as always captured superbly by La Casa, were then reworked, remodeled and collaged by Battus and Gauguet. The result is a soundscape at one hyper-real and phantasmagoric, rich, deeply plied, and absorbing, densely filled with sounds both recognizable and obscure, entrenched in the city yet isolated from it. Excellent work, among the best I've heard from all three of the musicians.
Matthew Świeżyński - The One Who Modifies Time and Light (Invisible Birds)
Two tracks, each over a half hour in length, "meditations" on Satyajit Ray's wonderful Apu Trilogy, occupying that zone between drones and field recordings, summoning images of nocturnal harbors and shadowed sylvan pathways. A subtle bell tone underlies the beginning of 'The Bird Represents Phases of Work' over which layers of voices and sounds I hear as dockside percolate. These are replaces by distant, hazy horns, perhaps made from those of yaks or other large cattle, fierce winds, low, rocky rumbles. 'Reduction, the Transmission of Light' starts with multiple ringing tones over what seems like urban sounds fading in and out, sitars from adjoining buildings. It's a bit more steady-state than the prior track, remaining in the same area while adding many varied textures, closing with a return of the horns from the first cut. The album is entirely immersive, easy to get pleasurably lost in. Good work.
Adrian Dziewanski - The Trail Loops Back (The Alcohol Seed/Invisible Birds)
Two pieces based on field recordings in Vancouver and Hawaii with added guitar loops and effects. In "A Common Dust", bird calls, spring peepers and an odd crackling sound that morphs into something like footsteps are heard over a thick, throbbing, fairly tonal drone, the elements mixing taffy-like, receding and emerging. When the drone half-disappears then goes away entirely, there's the wonderful sensation of the ambient sounds being released to float aboveground. The drones return with an added ringing and hints of low strings; the piece ends. 'Root Tendrils' is darker, as befits its subject, though the basic elements are similar to the first piece--insectile or amphibious trills, obscure metallic knocks, steps through dry grass, all over a swirling, creamy drone. Depending how one listens, the track arguably goes on longer than it merits but, on, the other hand, there's no real problem wallowing in it and coming out refreshed. Good, healthy dronage.
The Alcohol Seed