18 March 2002
LASSE MARHAUG: One Eye and Watching
Three recent releases from the small label Safe As Milk, with offices in Bergen and Oslo, Norway. In addition to being a label of experimental and "uncompromising" music, they also organize an annual festival with a growing reputation. The two 7 inch records featured here are the first in their Melektronikk series documenting live recordings of experimental and electronic music.
Tore Honoré Bøe, in addition to being a solo artist, is also the director of the arts collective Origami Republika. Focusing his efforts on amplifying the sounds of things we normally either don't pay attention to or don't hear, Bøe creates music full of acoustic hisses and peppered by sharp, concrete sounds. Side one has an atmosphere with an intrusive hiss and hum that escalate in intensity, while side two seems more tranquil. On the whole, Sølvstøy presents two nice and short pieces, a tiny glimpse into Bøe's world of sound. Look out for future projects involving collaborations with Roel Meelkop and Francisco López.
Lasse Marhaug is a prolific sound artist with a host of releases and collaborations to his credit (with Aube and Merzbow, among others). He is also a member of Jazzkammer, a project which has been gaining momentum in the past year or so. Using what is likely a combination of electronic and acoustic sound sources, Marhaug creates two pieces full of transitions and conflicts in sound. They combine tranquil drones and softer sounds (among them, the filtered sounds of running water, perhaps?) with harsh, uneasy and restless electronics in the foreground. I enjoyed these short pieces of shifting, rich textures, that seem to be more like electroacoustic sketches or improvisations than more formal compositions. Nicely done.
The third release on our Safe as Milk roster is by Düplo, a name unfamiliar to me until now. Slingringsmonn may be a short release (clocking in at just over 24 minutes), but the signatures are quite strong and leave a lasting impression. Erratic and bizarre sound textures from broken synths, theremin, samplers and recordings of various feedbacks and concrete sounds (crunching, scraping, banging) are arranged in sometimes dense and sometimes sparse sound environments. The tracks are comparatively short (ranging anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in length), and each explore their own set of themes, erratic rhythms and unusual sounds. There are some nice moments here, from the dark drones of "Årabrot" and the wavering harmonics of "Rød strikk" to the intense and dizzying title track and brusque clusters of sounds on "Fire". On the whole, it's a short but compelling introduction to Düplo's unconventional approach to making some interesting, unconventional music. [Richard di Santo]
TEAMSHADETEK: Natural Selection MD Sessions 6.01-9.01
Nonresponse is a new label based in Philadelphia. Here they present us with three new releases.
Codec Scovill is a trio consisting of Clay Emerson, Alfredo de Matteis and Ian Pullman. Clinical Imperfections is their debut CD, presenting eleven tracks of electroacoustic improvisations. The pieces range from quiet ambient drifts and eerie melodies to more abrasive noises and textures. The tracks are mixed together, so there's the feeling of a continuous flow that holds the whole album together. They certainly keep things interesting throughout, as each track explores is own set of heavily treated sounds arranged in relatively free forms without much constraint. While listening my attention seemed free to wander (given the ambient nature of the music, it didn't absorb my interest entirely), so I kept busy doing other things around the house while the music played on, filling in the spaces with its adventurous ambience. Nice work.
Loess is the collaboration between two Codec Scovill members Clay Emerson and Ian Pullman. This project is much more rhythmic than the ambient textures of Codec Scovill. The sound is distinctly downtempo, a mellow and restrained form of IDM, with some excellent sounds, crunchy beats, deep bass, sparse melodies and wavery atmospheres taking you though these twelve tracks of generous length. Nicely produced, excellent arrangements. Not much more to say here but that it's first class IDM with a slight touch of spontaneity and a noticeable sense of calm.
Teamshadetek is another duo, consisting of ZatsOner and SOZER_SHT, who also run the Shadetek label, a division of the Change Agent group out of New York. Four tracks of improvised electronics in under 22 minutes, the material featured here was recorded directly to minidisc, and is presented here in its original form. The disc begins with some abstract electronics and dynamic textures, but a burgeoning rhythm grows out of the second track, accompanied by a host of glitches and restless digital noises. Things just take off from there, with strong beats and compelling, unusual rhythms driving us through the next couple of tracks. Easily, we can cite Autechre, Boards of Canada and other projects on this side of Warp Records as major influences here, but it's nice to see that these guys don't seem to be about being mere copycats. There are enough fresh ideas in this short release to put this project a step above the median of IDM purveyors. Check this one out. [Richard di Santo]
The first solo release by sound artist Werner Durand, The Art of Buzzing was released recently on Podewil's new label X-Tract. Even if this is his debut CD, Durand has a long history (going on nearly 20 years) of integrating the use of resonators and buzzers with various instruments, either solo or in an ensemble (flutes, percussion, guitars, etc.). The first five tracks on this new CD were recorded between 1998 and 2000 in Berlin. For these recordings, Durand performs on superimposed PVC-Clarinets prepared with buzzing resonators, and an Iranian ney flute. The results are stunning: dense drones with pulsing, buzzing, dizzying movements swarm with an intoxicating cadence. Recorded in multi-track, the sounds are sometimes treated with loops and delays, although the characteristics of the sounds themselves are not altered by filters and additional effects. In the track "Honey", which contains noisier, more machine-like drones than the other pieces, flower pots were used as resonators and tin-foil plates for the buzzing effects. Durand takes the concept of the "drone" and runs with it, his track titles implying the association of drones with bees, and indeed, the incessant buzzing of these pieces suggests the relentless activity in an immense hive. The sixth and final track was recorded between 1990 and 1995, and was mixed in collaboration with Ralf Wehowsky (RLW). This is perhaps the most varied of all the pieces, with a more noticeable presence of the ney flute, and carefully arranged layers of shifting, dynamic drones and strange resonating sounds. Durand's techniques are truly fascinating, his music even more so. Highly recommended. [Richard di Santo]
A glitch-filled collection of electronics, this disc by Ukrainian artist Dmytro Fedorenko sets out early to hit you heavy and hard. The glitches are raw, the beats are sparsely constructed poundings, and the accents are high-pitched squeals of aural mayhem. Its all far too much to take in a single sitting. Here we have close to 50 minutes of similarly constructed tracks, and there is no respite from the noise whatsoever. The sounds lay heavily on ones ears, and no matter what volume the disc is played at, the intensity is unavoidable. Everything glitches, everything is interrupted, nothing is left to linger. Rhythms start and stop whenever they feel like it, leaving me with little time to get acquainted with them. There is no depth to the production: nothing to fill the air with any amount of hope. There is only glitch, beat and noise, the only elements present that combine to make a frustrating and disappointing experience. [Vils M DiSanto]
This is the third in a series of split 10 inch records from Monopsone, a relatively young label based in Besançon, France. This is my first encounter with both artists on this record. Also based in France, micro:mega is the collaborative project of Sylvain Chauveau and Fred Luneau. Contributing two tracks on side one, their music is a mellow blend of post-rock and electronica, immersed in discernible melancholy. Electronic atmospheres and the tranquil sounds of crickets fill the spaces between slowly rolling drumkit rhythms, deep bass, vibraphone (sampled?) and drifting guitar textures. These are two excellent tracks with a strong, distinctive sound. Side two features three tracks by Canadian outfit Below the Sea, who certainly owe much of their influence to Godspeed You Black Emperor! and other projects of post-rock melancholy. They present three beautiful arrangements for guitars (with mysterious and hypnotic loops, delays and effects), bass and drums. The recordings on side two falter somewhat (with a little distortion appearing when the pieces reach their loudest points), but the flaws are minor, flanked instead by the thoughtful and accomplished instrumental arrangements. In all, Substracks #3 proves to be an excellent introduction to two emerging musical projects, reminding us of the strange beauty inherent in melancholy. [Richard di Santo]
This seems to be the debut full length for Texas based artist Pablo St. Chaos. With the aid of feedback, loops and delays, he creates densely layered drones and heavy walls of sound with his guitar. Occasionally accompanying these dark, sometimes abrasive atmospheres is a calm and solitary voice, filtered with such heavy distortion as to make the words indecipherable (there are lyrics included for the curious). He creates dense atmospheres, restrained but brimming with feedback and pulsing guitar drones. His vision is one of melancholy and loss, a kindred spirit for many a release on Sam Rosenthal's Projekt label, which (I'm sure it's no coincidence) also distributes this CD. Listening to St. Chaos, I was reminded of something I heard years ago on Projekt, a record by Soul Whirling Somewhere, containing a similar sensation of being adrift in a sea of loneliness. Only St. Chaos employs much more distortion to his sounds, and cites Labradford, loveliescrushing and Spiritualized among his list of inspirations. My favourite piece here is the finale, "soft as the underbelly," a long (almost 10 minute) instrumental with some intense moods. Perhaps it's only failing (one that even hurts the album as a whole) is in it's conclusion. The piece suddenly and sharply cuts to silence at a point that seems random, where the piece really wasn't ready to be silenced. In spite of its hasty conclusion, this is perfect music for dark moods where loneliness creeps into your consciousness like a sharp, cold wind. Hoping you don't find yourself in such a mood very often, Chaos also suggests that you play during deep sleep, I take it to inspire some mysterious, otherworldly dreams. [Richard di Santo]
This double CD commemorates a series of exhibitions in the Projektraum at the Kunstraum, Innsbruck titled "copy&paste-drag&drop: sampling in art, music and literature." The series, organized by Stefan Bidner and Thomas Feuerstein, took place over a year and a half between 1999 and 2000. There is also a book of texts available as a companion piece to the CDs (written by the same contributors who can be found here).
The set features no less than forty-one tracks from just as many artists, among them Fon, Stefan Bidner, Leif Elggren, Voice Crack, N.I.C.J.O.B., Randomiz, Tamtam and Jürgen Moritz, but the list certainly goes on, featuring some names that I recognize but still more that are new for me. The collection is a mix of styles, from abstract digital electronics to more rhythmic, melodic experiments. It's a good balance of serious and lightweight material, with diverse yet complimentary styles that never stray too far from a central vision. Spoken word, glitch, ambience, drones, beats, melodies and digital cut-ups: it's all here. There's a nice track by Moritz and Parfüm Benelux, with an electronic rhythm and sound textures reminding me of Jetzmann and Liquidski's recyclings of material by Tietchens. N.I.C.J.O.B. contributes a longer piece of dramatic, punchy electronic percussion and eerie atmospheres, ending in stuttering cut-ups. Some of my favourite contributions come from Randomiz in collaboration with Weiser, who create their tracks with an impressive selection of rich samples and dynamic sounds. One of my favourite plundererphonic artists Vicki Bennet (aka People Like Us) also makes an appearance with the funny "My Son Jim," full of spoken text and samples from old westerns and some very happy country-styled music. Also of note are some complex, multi-layered rhythms and quirky textures from Bötticher and Lämmert; or consider the two erratic and surprisingly funky dancefloor tracks by W. Reich and DJ Stefan Egger. There's more here than I can possibly describe in such a short review review. So let it suffice to say that in total, Sample Minds is an excellent compilation, with more than two hours of exclusive material showcasing some provoking and experimental electronic music within and beyond the sampling phenomenon. Highly recommended. [Richard di Santo]
In this split release between Artificial Memory Trace, Antenna Farm and Gabriel Amato, ooze.bâp has brought together three artists of similar calibre, yet with completely different sound philosophies.
Artificial Memory Trace are first up with two tracks of a sparse and encompassing nature. Theres a quick-paced illusory rhythm that begins the first piece, "Expirations". Its a memorable eleven-second montage featuring fire crackles, buzzing flies, and taps and creaks of varying intensity. On its own, this section could be looped ad infinitum and I would forever be entranced. The pace is quick to start, and then slows right down, encompassing longer stretches of sound that contrast buzzing insects with electronic pulses and squawking birds with humming synthesis. There is always a startling dynamic present in the mix, one that contrasts its disparate elements so startlingly yet warmly. The balance struck by AMT is one of a masterful hand in control of his elements, and the second track, "Triality" proves this even further. That it was originally composed as an eight-channel sound installation is no surprise, as one can imagine each of the sounds having a clear place in a surround-type environment. This two-channel mix still has a distinctly spacious feel about it, and its especially inviting in a headphone monitoring environment. Here, the sounds are bolder, the contrasts greater, and yet everything still seems to be in place. Indecipherable voices call out in the distance, dramatic rumbles ground the piece, and all sorts of tiny, unintelligible noises complete the picture. The sound of a loudly ticking clock makes a handful of appearances in this 21-minute piece, sometimes unadulterated, and sometimes given strange sonic treatments. The pieces leave me with the feeling that I was somewhere I never could have been, yet the aura of familiarity is undeniable. Perhaps this is some sort of "artificial memory" in my head playing silly tricks on me, or perhaps AMT are able to tap into a place that exists inside all of us; a place where nature, mechanics and emotion can play happily together.
After this quasi-environmental escapade by AMT are four tracks by Antenna Farm, a duo who self-admittedly "get off on throwing things together." Im sure this could be said for many artists out there, though perhaps not all would admit it in this fashion. A buzzing, entirely digital landscape is brought to the forefront immediately, and one can easily discern the hodge-podge approach to soundmaking by this duo. Short sections of sonic distortion interplay with one another, but the source sounds are rendered invisible. The textures created are rough and feel unrefined, yet some sections do play out with sufficient aplomb. The tempo is slowed down for their fourth track, "Tower 2", and the sounds are given much more room to breathe and expand. I seemed to enjoy this approach more, as the track felt less sketchy than the previous ones. Some interesting textures are presented overall, but not enough to make a lasting impression on me.
Next up are seven tracks in the three-minute range by Gabriel Amato, who recorded these in Scotland last year. I dont know much about this fellow, but he seems to have quite an ear for playful and distracting sounds. Plenty of squelching, jarring noises make it to the mix, and Amato seems content to hash them together in a uniquely full and inspired fashion. He seems relentless in each of the tracks, and packs them solidly with so many sounds, that they leave my speakers in such a state of disarray. Im really quite sure he didnt intend to disorient them in this way, but you never can tell these days. Beatless rhythms, heavy clunks and sparring tweets and twitters seem to take on a life of their own in the room when these tracks are played. Its such a contrast to hear these after the contemplative nature of AMTs tracks, and while Antenna Farm did what they could to bring me back to a relative state of normalcy, nothing could have prepared me for Amatos chaotic turn. Wonderful stuff.
Overall, an impressive compilation from Barcelonas ooze.bâp label, one that visits both internal and external vistas with impressive fluency. A worthy and intriguing release. [Vils M DiSanto]
Perhaps it was inevitable that David Turgeon's mp3 label No Type would make the transition to releasing CDs. After more than 3 years of mp3 publishing (the site was launched late 1998), they present their first compilation 2CD set. The Freest of Radicals presents 36 tracks featuring just as many artists. It features contributions by Le Chien Borgne, themoonstealingproject, Napalm Jazz, V.V., Sluts On Tape, Kalx, n.kra and a host of others, all of whom have been participants on No Type's online programme at some point or another. With so many contributions, I couldn't possibly do justice to each one, and the styles certainly vary. From the microsound of Tomas Jirku and Claudio Bonarelli to the abstract digital sculpting of speech.fake, or the post rock sensibilities of Kanovanik and Idmonster, the hyperbeats of Books On Tape, the chaotic distortions of martindx, the IDM-inspired rhythms of Headphone Science ... there's certainly no end to the breadth of styles contained in this release. The challenging and more abstract moments are matched by tracks with more prominent and sometimes even conventional rhythms, beats and even a few melodies thrown if for good measure. Surely, there's a lot to digest here, almost too much for one release. Almost. Taken as a whole, the compilation sits a little heavily and uneasily with me; with so much to take in, and being thrown in so many different stylistic directions, it lacks some of the focus I would have liked to have seen in such a lengthy compilation. And yet I also have to admit that a number of strong contributions seems to make up for it. Perhaps The Freest of Radicals is better regarded as a "who's who" of new, not-so-new and/or emerging talents from the No Type roster; a quick thumbnail guide to discovering some new and adventurous music. [Richard di Santo]
The Incursion Music Review was published and edited by Richard di Santo from 2000 to 2004. All 75 issues can be accessed in the archive. Please note that we are no longer accepting submissions or promotional material for review.
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