Thursday, August 27, 2020


Pisaura - Asteraceae (Sedimental)

Pisaura is a trio consisting of Michael Pisaro-Liu and the members of the duo Zizia, Amber Wolfe and Jarrod Fowler. Their first recording is a set of 24 pieces, lasting 72 minutes, based on a quite complicated system designed, as I understand it, to generate patterns and associations based on the interaction of two very different mapping methodologies that may produce serendipitous results. One is a geographic map of the greater Los Angeles area. The other is a celestial map derived from the astrological charts of the three individuals involved. In fairness, I should pause to mention that I have exceedingly short patience with all matters astrological. I don't have any particular problem with it being used as a pattern/idea-generating process any more than I do with, say, Cage's famous use of the I Ching but, as with that activity, chance results are as far as I go, much akin to rolling dice. Pisaura overlays more meaning, and much complexity, as described in limited detail below. The reader can judge for themselves how much credence to ascribe to the system's responsibility for the results above and beyond the quotidian. 

The maps were overlaid with a couple of initial corresponding points: the Mt. Wilson Observatory with Saturn and the California Institute of the Arts with Chiron (the centaur). Other astrological symbols would thus match up, whether by chance or mystical design, with various geographical locations. Members of the trio would venture to these sites, at times also determined by planetary rhythms and alignment, to make field recordings, which were brought back and reworked into the pieces heard here. There's more to it than that, but this gives you a general idea.

I have no prior experience with Zizia as such and had only heard, to the best of my recollection, one release by Fowler ('Rhythmics', Heresy Records, 2012) but I know Pisaro-Liu's work to a pretty thorough degree. Despite what one might think of his having in recent years developed (in recordings, at least) a fuller, richer sonic palette, I was immediately struck by the density of sound on this release.  The initial track, for instance, has several layers ranging from a fluctuating warble to scratchy rustlings to an element that begins as a sine-y sliver (similar to those heard on Pisaro's classic 'Transparent City' series) and expands to a harmonium-like fulness--and more than that besides. The pieces are something like brief sonic videos with shifting filters and focuses; they're ambient but active, even hyperactive. There's sometimes a tinge of or, maybe, an oblique reference to the IRCAM school of electro-acoustic music but without, happily, that sheen of artificiality often encountered there. If I have a complaint, it might be that as whole, there's a similar intensity in play over the twenty-four pieces. They're different, of course (here a snatch of distant talk, there blurred and rumbling machinery, crickets, spiders--perhaps the asteraceae indicated in the album's title--rain or wind, much more) but possess something of the same feel. Using the photo-filter analogy again, it's a little like a series of wonderful pictures with a similar grain, saturation, etc. This makes for a slightly disquieting effect when listening through the album, a same-but-not-same sensation. Sometimes I don't mind this, other times I do. 

But there's something unique in play as well, a set that's subtly different from what you're likely to have experienced before, an intriguing lamina of uneasiness. I hope Pisaura continues as a working unit--eager to hear what comes next. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Rhodri Davies - Transversal Time (Confront Core Series)

'Transversal Time' is a single, 38-minute work composed by Davies, performed by a nonet consisting of Ryoko Akama (electronics), Davies (pedal harp, electric harp), Sarah Hughes (zither), Sofia Jernberg (vocals), Pia Palme (contrabass recorder), Adam Parkinson (programming), Lucy Railton (cello), Pat Thomas (piano, electronics) and Dafne Vicente-Sandoval (bassoon). David Toop's absorbing and detailed liner notes go more into Davies' familial history and the nature of clock time than the specifics of the piece, but do indicate that the composer assigned various "time systems" to individual instrumentalists. Beyond that, one guesses the sounds are improvised within that structure, though it's difficult (for me) to say for certain.

The sounds created, for much of the first half of the piece, are of long duration and quiet to medium-quiet dynamics, with considerable fluttering from the recorder and a kind of creaky warbling from the voice (think Ami Yoshida). These are embedded in a sound world not too far from that often heard in Éliane Radigue's work, with whom Davies has worked intimately for many years now, though it's never so...creamy. Things shift subtly over the second half, the piano (inside and/or prepared) negotiating a path through cello and, perhaps, other bowed strings, very dark, very much on tiptoe and quite thrilling. Eventually, the eerie smoothness, now illuminated by flashes from the electronics, comes to dominate, a kind of uneasy peace. It's a fascinating, multi-layered work, one that becomes itchier and more unsettling the deeper one listens.

Tony Oxley - Beaming (Confront Core Series)

I'm not certain I've deciphered the ins and outs re: the construction of this recording, but on the surface we have a collaboration between Oxley (electronics and concept) and Stefan Hölker (acoustic percussion), the former also credited with "Material 1972, electronic frame". I'm not sure if the release, recorded on November 25, 2019, involves tapes of a 1972 performance incorporated into a live performance of percussion and electronic permutation or simply a live improvisation with the materials at hand.

The frame in question is presumably this one, or an adaptation of it, constructed in recent years by Oxley.

Six tracks, all very active and colorful, the latter aspect having much to do with the amount of metal, often resonant and light-sounding, deployed. I don't otherwise know Hölker's work but listeners familiar with Oxley will find themselves in recognizable territory. For my taste, there's more than enough constant activity to render matters somewhat overly busy with no time allotted for appreciating sounds in space or singular relationships of same. I sometimes had the (not unattractive) image of a large cauldron full of metallic objects being swiftly stirred by a heavy, wooden  implement. But, as said, the colors generated, including subtle electronics and seemingly pianistic ones, go some way toward mitigating any misgivings and fans more attuned to the long history of that area of the free improv tradition will find this a welcome example of ongoing creativity from a master now into his 80s.

Virtual Company - s/t (Confront Core Series)

The notion isn't without precedent. John Tilbury, for one, accomplished it in his unflinchingly titled, 'Playing with a Dead Person' (Bôłt, BR LP03, 2016). Coincidentally, the decedent in question was Derek Bailey, as is half the case here. If my memory is correct, Tilbury took the opportunity to "collaborate" in that manner as a remedy for his regret at not having been able to do so while Bailey was alive, things never quite having fallen into place. With 'Virtual Company', the living improvisers are Simon H. Fell (double bass) and Mark Wastell (violoncello, percussion), who each had extensive experience performing with Bailey and, to some extent, Will Gaines, the other deceased musician represented herein. 

Despite the allusion to Bailey's improvisatory Company project, there's a good deal of construction in play here and its nature is pretty fascinating. As described in his excellent liner notes, Fell determined a 45-minute duration for the work and decided that Bailey would "play" for 30 minutes and Gaines' taps and voice would be heard for about half the span. He then took snippets from the recordings of both, ranging from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, interspersed those with silences of somewhat lesser duration and digitized them. For a Virtual Company performance, these samples are played back in random order, resulting in an impossibly vast possibility of sequences, along with which the living musicians improvise.

How do the results sound? Well, this performance, recorded at Cafe OTO in 2018, intended as a "quintet" with Rhodri Davies who was unable to make the gig, pretty much sounds like an actual event with four present musicians. As Fell notes, Bailey had been in the habit, in the 1990s, of playing along with pirate radio stations and I've long had the impression that he, when on stage with musicians who were, shall we say, not quite in his league, would simply treat the sounds they made as ambient sound with/against which to improvise. In his recordings with Gaines, one has the impression of somewhat more direct interplay, at least on occasion, but their reincarnation here, spliced and randomized as it is, doesn't come off as drastically different (which is to say, intricate and absorbing). Only the sporadic silences from guitarist and tapper might clue in the unwary listener. I wonder if Fell and Wastell, eyes closed and allowing for the physical absence of direct guitar or shoe presence versus sounds emanating from speakers, weren't able to react to the music as though issuing "normally". Tremendous players both, they seem almost eerily at home in this context. Had I heard this recording "blindfolded", I have no reason to think that I could have detected anything unusual afoot. I'm reasonably sure I would have been pleasantly surprised at the emergence of a wonderful archival release from four fine musicians, fitting in quite well with my past experiences with all of them. That Fell was able to weave this magic together says a great deal for both his, and  Wastell's, skill and their love for the departed.


Monday, February 17, 2020

A few brief words on twelve new releases from Edition Wandelweiser, music that spans a very wide territory. No images this time because, well, they're Wandelweiser covers....(though the Möller/Ragab sleeve contains an actual photo...)

Tomás Cabado - historia de la luz: cuaderno de guitarra

Eight pieces for two guitars, performed by the composer and Catriel Nievas. The guitars are either electric or amplified acoustic, I think, and the pieces tend toward long, clear tones alongside hazier ones, suspended amidst the space in the room. Sometimes, "simple" lines are unfurled, even ones that resemble scales. When overlapping, the two guitars will often create piquant harmonics. You hear the room in Buenos Aires, distant dogs. The sounds are forceful and rich, even occasionally piercing, but always serene and unhurried. Like a close-in hearing of water droplets on metal, the final drops massive in context. Lovely.

Bruno Duplant/Pierre Gerard - soleil clandestin

A collaborative set of five soundscapes from Duplant and Gerard, sharing duties on "abstract" voices,  guitar, electronics, field recordings and percussion. The pieces are mysterious, sometimes  verging on the ritual-sounding, with random soft clattering and bumping offset by the deep tones of struck metal, perhaps bells of some kind. A guitar pokes through with surprising spikiness and, later, voices. This creates an oddly bumpy kind of terrain, with sounds that have a kind of separateness, giving the aural space a thick weave, like heavy material with holes. The voices can be a little...disquieting. I don't think I've previously heard Gerard's music so can't say how this fits in with prior work but it stands apart somewhat from Duplant's oeuvre, at least that portion of which I'm aware.

Jürg Frey - fields, traces, clouds

Three works recorded by ordinary affects (Luke Martin, electric guitar; Laura Cetilia, cello; P.A. Falzone, piano/vibraphone; Morgan Evans-Weiler, violin) with Frey on clarinet. The piece have the kind of calm, extremely thoughtful stance that I love so in Frey's music, something he gets at in the liner notes involving fallow land, the notion of walking in an environment and allowing inspiration to occur. The atmosphere is apparent from the opening track (the title composition) and comes to the fore in the final one, 'floating categories', where the streets of Cambridge are very much a sixth member of the ensemble. The melodies (and they are melodies, I think; toward the end of 'fields, traces, clouds', there's a passage that almost evokes a sunrise) are slow, even stately, the strings often grainy on their own--quite beautiful--but when they overlap with the other instruments, the effect is stunning. All the more so as these interactions seem almost serendipitous, though of course, they're not. Truly profound and deeply-lived music, wonderfully realized.

Mark Hannesson - undeclared

A work written in response to the October 20, 2006 drone attack on a school in Pakistan that killed 80 or more people, including 68-70 children. Hannesson asks how it's possible to respond to this aesthetically and offers his attempt. It's a very moving one, simple in conception, a kind of funereal tolling. The piece, titled 'undeclared', is presented three times, first played by Antoine Beuger on children's glockenspiel (an especially effective conveyor of grief), then by René Holtkamp on guitar and finally by the composer using whistling and electronics. Where Beuger's rendition is soft and sorrowful, a string of individual tones, all the same, spaced over about 20 minutes, Holtkamp attacks the same score more forcefully, the pain felt at the horrible event evincing itself. Hannesson's version is different, much gauzier, even ethereal, the tones still there but clouded, evanescing, perhaps disappearing like those poor victims. A moving set of music.

Mark Hannesson/Dante Boon/Anastassis Philippakopoulos - s/t

Three works for solo piano, played by Boon. One each by Hannesson and Boon and a set of four shorter pieces by Philippakopoulos. The transition between compositions is almost seamless and, indeed, it's possible to listen to the works as a single, continuous piece of music. Hannesson's 'signposts' is apparently sourced from the 2016 Wandelweiser catalog, the choice of which "fragments" to play left to the pianist. Largely individual notes, a tonal feel without a specific tonality, allowed to hang in space, expertly placed by Boon; in several ways an archetypal Wandelweiser piece and a very lovely one. 'duo (2h)', by Boon, while very much in line with the preceding work, expands things just a bit, inserting a few more subtle chords, suffusing the music with a warm light--gorgeous. The four 'piano pieces' by Philippakopoulos add just a tinge more melody, providing the hint of a line, softly undulating like a bit of seaweed in a tide pool. A beautiful conclusion to a very moving collection of sounds.

Bin Li - i am also here

As near as I can determine, despite having written and having had performed a number of works (see Li's site here), this is Li's first recording. The title track is performed twice, each with Stefan Thut (viol and voice on the first version, only voice on the second) and the composer (voice on the first, voice and qin--a kind of Chinese zither--on the second). In each instance, the surrounding environments, Manhattan and Gimmelwald, Switzerland, play a major role. The four-word text is spoken, often with many minutes between words, in English and/or Chinese, the instruments briefly played, perhaps mimicking the cadence, such as it is, of the phrase. In the wooly atmospherics of Gimmelwald, Thut begins the first rendition by saying, "I am here". His viol is briefly bowed a handful of times as the phrase, a word at a time, is spoken over 15+ minutes, I believe alternately by Thut and Li. The sound fades out completely once, then returns with the final word, "here", said immediately, a little startling, like being awakened in a park after an unbidden nap.  The ambience is  more intense on the second version, which lasts over 43 minutes, all birds and blurred traffic (though it fluctuates throughout the piece), Li (or maybe Thut?) speaking in Chinese with the odd pluck of the qin, loud in context. There are near-complete cessations of sound, the faintest of fuzz. Pileated woodpeckers and airplanes on the sound's return. Again, toward the end of the work, there's that abrupt awakening. The title of the final work is phonetically transliterated as "you" but means, "also", therefore carrying some of the meaning of the title track while also serving, to an English speaker, as a kind of mirror reflection to it. Li plays (again, sporadically) the hichiriki,  Japanese double-reed instrument heard in gagaku. He seems to be intoning the syllable, "you", with its Chinese inflection, playing the instrument breathily and, at the piece's conclusion and in contrast to the instruments on the rest of the disc, with a rush of soft tones over a relatively long period. An absolutely fascinating set of music--I'm eager to hear more.

André O. Möller with Christoph Nicolaus &  Rasha  Ragab - music for stone harps

Stone harps are crafted from blocks of black granite which are usually shaped into roughly conic forms, then sliced to create individual slabs or bars that, when stroked with wetted fingers, produce a range of rich, reverberant tones. On this two-disc set, Möller presents three compositions and two improvisations using solely these instruments. On the first piece, 'für eckl (a tanz der hauttöne)', there's too much dependence on the harp tones themselves at the expense of the composition. Those  tones contain a certain amount of inherent fascination, not dissimilar to, say, a bowed marimba, but not enough (for this listener) to sustain a 34-minute piece on their own. 'stoned fridge' is more robust, bearing a range of growling sounds (I'm not sure all are from the harps, actually, but I suppose it's possible--the credits list "playback" so I imagine some iterative function is occurring), generating a dense drone with multiple layers of activity--it breathes, and breathes deeply. On the second disc, the two improvisations are innocuous in the same manner as the initial work while the hour-plus 'ménage à trois (double)' once again uses playback as well as an influx of exterior sound. It's greater aural transparency serves as a good contrast to 'stoned fridge' and allows it to work just as wellas  the prior piece, the ringing tones of the harps layered between the car engines, bird calls and odd organ-like sounds. Overall, a slightly mixed bag for me, but worthwhile.

Kory Reeder - love songs, duets

I believe this is the first recording of Reeder's work (fwiw, I can't see any listing for the seven other musicians on Discogs either). If it's a debut, it's an  impressive one. Four pieces, all duets: 'folie à deux i' (Erin Cameron and Luke Ellard, bass clarinets), 'somewhere, some place else' (Jonathan Kierspe, saxophone, Samuel Anderson, bass trombone), 'folie à deux iii' (Alaina Clarice and Linda Jenkins, flutes)  and 'hiro yokose' (Mia Detwiler, violin, Reeder, piano). The compositions are of a piece, in a sense, though well differentiated. All slow, tonal, with no repeating melodies or rhythms, the lines from each pair of instruments gently entwining. There are wonderfully subtle contrasts in tone between the like instruments (bass clarinets and flutes), never going for mere effect, the tenderness coming first, elegiac but not sorrowful. Sometimes more somber, sometimes more wistful, but always with a sense of soft languidness. Reeder's piano is especially poignant on the closing composition, just barely verging on melody. Excellent work all around.

Dean Rosenthal - Stones/Water/Time/Breath

Rosenthal's piece extends the lineage of Christian Wolff's well-known 'Stones' into an  even more open area. Entirely text-based, he asks that interested person(s) locate a body of water, acquire some  stones and create some interactive sounds with them. (Including the word, "Breath" in the title is interesting--it doesn't appear in the score; nice) This recording documents five realizations with from one to seven performers. Canadian sound artists Gayle Young and Reinhard Reitzenstein slosh and drop stones for a couple of minutes while a septet of individuals behave similarly in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, here for over 20 minutes with a more enveloping ambient sound including birds, children and airplanes. Rosenthal's own solo realization is quite spare and calm, the sounds generated from the stones well embedded into the overall soundscape. As with recordings of Manfred Werder's works, there's a vast difference, one understands, between disc and actual presence. One can get a glimmer of this by watching and listening to one of several very fine, very beautiful videos available on the site Rosenthal has set up for this project. The great value of this release is simply introducing the listener to the score and, in addition to perusing the related site (which I highly recommend) going out and actualizing it oneself or with friends (or strangers).

Urs Peter Schneider - Klavierwerke 1971 - 2015

A two-CD set of four solo piano works by Schneider, recorded between 1980 and 2019, played by the composer. 'Clavierübung' (1971 - 79), for mildly prepared piano, bears a striking resemblance to some of Tom Johnson's pieces or, rather, given its compositional dates, one might say the reverse. There's an accretive kind of effect, as if the modules of the basic form are being slightly altered with each iteration (dynamics, stress, gradually augmented pitch, etc.) according to some hidden system. The theme itself has a wonderful, surreptitious, kind of creeping aspect, as of some slightly disreputable character skulking around the perimeter. Lasting over an hour, the permutations it goes through are many, if subtly deployed. The material is just a pair of nine note sequences but they're manipulated in a manner that makes it (for this listener) surprisingly difficult to count and seemingly possessing a greater variety of arrangements than I would have thought possible. Or maybe it just appears that way. 'So Beseelte' (2008 - 14), dedicated to Martin Luther, indeed has a kind of staggered processional feel, something of Satie's 'Ogives'. 'Ein Jahreslauf' is a more disparate work, difficult to describe. Sort of like a prelude that, over its 34 minutes, keeps building then gently fragmenting, spaces between "clumps" lengthening as the piece develops. It's oddly entrancing. The final selection, 'Aus der Tiefe' (2013 - 15) returns a little bit to the general structure used in the first, here sequences of light, almost playful, three and four chord segments, rearranged, re-accented, and otherwise shuffled, strung in a kind of bracelet.  Entirely engrossing music, start to finish.

Sivan Silver-Swartz - untitled 6

'untitled 6' is an hour long work for string quintet (Nigel Deane, violin; Patrick Behnke and Tanner Pfeiffer, violas; Tal Katz and Julius Tedaldi, cellos). The score entails two "charts"--one where things change and recur, the other where things change and don't recur; "the former has only one path while the latter has infinite". The general feeling is one of slow breathing or perhaps very low amplitude ripples on an otherwise calm surface of a pond. The lines, microtonal and well-integrated, sometimes evoking old reed organs, overlap at irregular intervals, soft and gentle, like grass fronds floating on  the pond, attenuating here, coalescing there. Endlessly absorbing, a seemingly simple surface enveloping activity with an almost biological sense of complexity. Gorgeous work.

Rishin Singh - out from the blinding white

Two lovely, subtle compositions for solo piano, played by Dante Boon. The first, 'thirty oars (for dante)', uses scale-like patterns, ascending and descending, as recurrent structural elements, around and between which are scattered small clusters of soft chords and brief single-note sequences, extremely thoughtful and warmly pensive, with the occasional welcome, just slightly sour twist. 'for eva-maria houben' is based on  a pair of three-note patterns that are ever so slightly modified throughout the work; I don't think any two sequences are identical but they're also not very far apart. That's all but that's more than enough: just a continuous blooming of akin sounds. Both pieces are difficult (for me) to describe with any kind of specificity but both are just wonderful--intelligent, tender and full of life. Great stuff.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Arild Andersen/Clive Bell/Mark Wastell - Tales of Hackney (Confront)

I had to chuckle when I first put on this disc. I knew and greatly enjoyed Andersen's work in Jan Garbarek's early groups and, even earlier, when that group was nestled into George Russell's large ensembles, but I'm pretty sure the last time I heard him was on Roswell Rudd's 'Flexible Flyer'  (1975). Nonetheless, when those initial bass notes rang out on the first track here, there was no one  else it could have been. When swiftly joined by Bell's khene (a Thai mouth organ) and Wastell's deft cymbals, it ushers in this delightful and unexpected release that, among other things, seems  determined bring a fresh take on the kind of music heard on those early ECM sides, before the label became awash in pastels. No easy task, but this trio manages to generate  a lush, more or less tuneful set of pieces that retain just enough edge to skirt any concerns. Andersen employs electronics as well, creating washes of dense tones, again not altogether too comfortable and melding well with Wastell's shruti box while Bell ably navigates from khene to shakuhachi to pi saw (a Thai flute) to shinobue (a Japanese transverse flute). Spacey sections that avoid gauziness, instead focussing on laminal textures, always with ample grain or tinges of harshness, near-melodies that are pastoral and even meditative while utterly avoiding the lassitude and shallowness all too commonly encountered in this general area. And Andersen is a joy to hear throughout, such a great sound. Not only a very enjoyable release but a surprising and refreshing approach to even consider these days (recorded in  2017)--a wonderful recording.

Chris Burn/Philip Thomas - as if as (Confront)

A set of arrangements for piano by Burn, played by Thomas, including six brief pieces transcribed from guitar improvisations by Derek Bailey.

The first compositions, the title track and 'only the snow', are spiky, dense and complex works, with intriguing senses of fragmentation and silences (especially the latter), tending toward the higher registers and evoking, to these ears, something of a more spatially concerned Nancarrow. Initially  forbidding, they grew on me with each subsequent listen. I should point out that there's some confusion with regard  to track listings involving a mistaken pressing and  a corrected one; I'm going by my ears and the listing on my copy, though I'm not convinced I'm correct.... What are listed as the Bailey transcriptions (from his 1991 release on Incus, 'Guitar Solos Volume 2') are a different  matter. As odd as it may seem, they're immediately in more "comfortable" territory, almost gentle, quite introspective sounding and lovely; this is  an aspect that leads me to think that some of the four 'pressings and screenings' pieces  are mixed in  here, but whatever, it's excellent music. The pieces range from that kind of Webern-ish spatial pointillism to only slightly softer, more (relatively) lush environs, always with a firm sense of structure and not nearly as claustrophobic as I might have expected. As ever, Philip Thomas exercises both precision and touch, injecting vast amounts of vigor into the proceedings. My knowledge of Burn's oeuvre is fairly limited but this is easily my favorite recording of his work yet. Highly recommended.

Max Eastley/Fergus Kelly/Mark Wastell - The Map Is Not the Territory (Confront)

A flowing set of eight improvisations where the trio (Eastley, arc [an electro-acoustic monochord]; Kelly, invented instruments, found metals, electronics; and Wastell, tam tam, metal percussion, piano frame) concentrate almost exclusively on long tones including, one suspects, much derived from bowing. Unlike many an arco-cymbalist, however, the sounds achieved here aren't overly harsh or strident, though also maintaining a safe distance from the blandly mellifluous. There's an expansiveness in play here, perhaps less liquid than sandy, smooth but not without granularity. A kind of serenity that allows for mild discomfort and itchiness, even venturing into otherworldly-seeming territory, as in 'Seizure of Light'. The tracks are of a piece but differentiated, like leaves from the same tree. This all sounds vague, I realize, but it's difficult (for me) to capture kind of flow heard here without getting too sappy about it. Nothing sappy about the music--it's lovely on a sensual level and engrossing to contemplate. Fine work.

Mike Cooper/Mark Wastell - Sound Mirrors (Confront)

Cooper's always been a tough musician for me to get any kind of stylistic fix on, likely my shortcoming versus his complex slipperiness. There's the free improviser, of course, but also the fellow who nods to Hawaiian slide guitar, acoustic blues among other necks of the woods. Here, on lapsteel guitar and electronics in six pieces with Wastell (tam tam, percussion, shruti box), one hears tinges of all of these and others. The mix of guitar and tam tam is especially appealing here, metal strings and brushed or stroked metal--very nice. There's a fine billowy feeling  throughout much of the work though on occasion, as in 'Warden Point', the electronics gets more in-one's-face and a tad loopy. Parts of 'Joss Gap' nod to dance rhythms of a sort, creating an interesting an unusual kind of tension, in the context. Using one's imagination, you can almost summon up images of the sound mirrors referenced in the album's title (we've all seen these, yes?). An intriguing piece, gnarly in ways one doesn't often hear; Cooper's guitar toward the end is an unexpected easter egg. It doesn't always work--there's a bit of oil and water here--but when it does, which is often enough, 'Sound Mirrors'  offers some delectable flavors.


Sunday, January 05, 2020

Grisha Shakhnes - being there  (unfathomless)

A dense collage of sound "recorded live at home" and, I take it, processed [not so, I've learned--it's live: description here]. In any case, one gets layers of sound that fall somewhere between natural and mechanical--hard to determine which, often enough--with hollow moans and disembodied, unintelligible voices, masterfully mixed, dramatically (slowly) paced--claustrophobic, powerful and fascinating.

Bruno Duplant/David Vélez - our seasons reverse (unfathomless)

A long range collaboration with both extensive field recordings and other instrumentation (theramins, organ, strings), somewhat airier than the prior release though still thick with small , chattering sounds, like a horde of robotic insects, muted sirens, struck metal, exposed wiring and more.