Cadmium Dunkel - The Enerhaugen Concerts
With the exception of a big list of the instruments used in the making of this album I have absolutely no information to give you as to who or what Cadmium Dunkel is / are. They (he / she) do however make a rather nice noise. Swooping drones and rumbling noise paired with fragile instrumentation, tumbling melodies paired with percussive stabs and sparse immersive atmospheres paired with all the above. There is a deliberate sense of motion here in it's layers of sleepy tonalities that means this is easily one of the more interesting (and recommended) post-industrial noise releases I've heard in a while.
Caethua - Village of the Damned
I must admit that the opening track, a slightly whimsical slice of indie americana, was, for me, an inauspicious start to this album from New York state musician Clare Hubbard. Musically it's certainly not a bad track but the vocals are, shall we say, an acquired taste. The rest of the album though is sumptuously psychedelic. It retains it's lo-fi acousticity (I've invented that word especially for this review) but is delightfully expansive in scope. It's musically self-indulgent without ever feeling so. I remain unconvinced by her vocals but whether she's strumming, droning, percussioning (there's another new word) or teasing gentle melodies out of whichever instrument is featured at any given moment Hubbard does make some divine music.
This certainly isn't going to be to everyone's taste but I really do recommend you give it a try.
Juan Jose Calarco - Raiz de Invierno
(Locus of Assemblage mass20)
Another sublime release from the Locus stable. Their series of 3" CDR has been exemplary and this one by Argentinian sound sculptor Juan Jose Calarco is certainly no exception. His delicate field recordings and carefully crafted sounds create a fragile yet deeply earthy ambience which hovers intriguingly at the fringes of your perceptions before erupting in a tsunami of thunder, water and hiss and then receding once more.
Juan Jose Calarco - Darsena Interna
(Mystery Sea MS52)
My previous exposure to the work of Argentine musician Calarco (his mini CD on Locus of Assemblage) had been very favourable so I was quite excited about this new release on the always recommended Mystery Sea label. Calarco’s soundworld has, at it's base, a distinctly urbanised setting. His music is embedded into a oppressive, hissing layer of industrialised (but not industrial) rumble.
I'm hearing more and more of this sort of composition lately and the urban is increasingly replacing the industrial as the norm. The relentless battery of the industrial is no longer as valid a soundworld to many and so it no longer resonates as much as it maybe did previously. As such I think it's position is being usurped by sonic reproductions of the low-key background miasma of the modern urban environment. Calarco's composition is, I think, very reflective of this assumption. His music has a stark brutality that is tempered by the flecks of humanity that can be glimpsed through the haze of sound.
I must admit that being a dedicated country dweller I find these sounds to be utterly inimical to a positive state of mind. As a composition though they are fascinating and beautifully orchestrated.
Juan Jose Calarco / David Wells - Foce
Two tracks, one by JJC and one by DW both called 'Foce' make up this excellent cdr on Wells' SiRiDisc label.
Calarco is up first and his take is one of hard edged clattering instrumentation that is woven through various field recordings documenting different aspects of water from tenuous drips to tempestuous seas. Calarco intersperses his field recordings with various atonal flurries that ground the recordings into deliberate musicality which I am glad of as without them the track would be far less interesting than it is.
Wells has been absent from the scene for a little while and it's good to hear him again especially making music as good as this. A noisy droning start underscored with a stuttering glitch hiss eventually gives way to a rolling, unsettled set of processed drones coloured liberally with amorphous field recordings. It fits beautifully with the CDs previous track, sharing a common sonic temperament whilst easily retaining it's own individuality and as such 'Foce' is a satisfyingly complete listen.
Juan Jose Calarco - Aguatierra
Aguatierra is an introspective exploration of sounds collected along the canals of Xochimilco Ecological Park (Mexico) and Otamendi Natural Reserve (Argentina), the latter in conjunction with Pablo Reche. The music is a massive conglomeration of these sounds arranged to create a dense and impenetrable organic morass. There is an undeniable sense of motion here, a feeling of travelling through an intensely alive and verdant environment but, unfortunately, not an environment that one feels particularly able to stop and enjoy. The constant, restless motion gives everything an aura of impenetrability that ensures the listener remains as a spectator to the journey, never quite immersed in the experience.
For me there needs to be a larger human presence, I couldn’t feel the composer in the mix and it sometimes felt like he was hiding behind his sounds. Pure field recordings (with a couple of notable exceptions) rarely particularly light my fire no matter how well they are done - and these are done very well. As a piece of sound sculpture it’s a very fine piece of work but for me it was just too exclusive.
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Shining Skull Breath
(Students of Decay SoD-40)
Founder member of San Francisco 'post-rock' (hateful-term) combo Tarantel, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma here constructs a simply stunning set of fuzz laden drone washes. Both attention grabbing and subtly insidious, Jefre constructs huge, beautiful monoliths of grit from which tumble melodies like coins from an end of row Vegas slot machine.
Angus Carlyle & Rupert Cox – Air Pressure
‘Air Pressure’ tells the acoustic story of life on the Shimamura family farm that nestles within the confines of Narita international airport in northern Japan.
Aside from the beautiful production values on display in the book style packaging and in the articles contained within that discussing the history of this unusual set up and of the lives of the Shimamura’s this is a stunning set.
From beginning to end it presents a fascinating portrait of life within this acoustically formidable environment. These recordings are at their most profound when featuring the inhabitants of the farm – either people or livestock – and displays how their lives are accompanied by the constant presence of the planes.
Gruenrekorder have, for a while now, been building up a profound collection of aural documents and this should take its place at the very forefront of that collection.
Celer - Tropical
(Mystery Sea MS50)
Celer are Will & Danielle and this album consists of piano, strings, radio, electronics, arrangements (?), tape, words, bells and field recordings. I know this because it says so on the inside of the sleeve. That’s my question mark back there by the way, it’s not on the sleeve just in my head. It seemed a strange thing to write on the instrument list, but I digress.
Tropical is a bit of a misnomer as titles go as there is a far more arid or tundra feel to Celer's music than there is tropical. It consists of a series of stately, slow moving, round mid-range drones. There is very little superfluous decoration in the music. All the attention is focussed entirely upon the drones and their careful evolution.
This is easily one off the nicest drone albums I've heard in a while and it's found it's way onto my seedee player many times over the last few weeks. It isn't the most memorable of discs though with the tracks being fairly amorphous and vague. Another way of putting this though is that the tracks are quite amorphous and vague which is the very quality that has kept the album visiting my seedee player over the last few weeks as it's almost impossible to get bored of them. Both version work for me depending on my mood.
Definitely worth a listen but as it's on Mystery Sea you already knew that.
Andrew Chalk - The River That Runs Into The Sands
The second release on Andrew Chalk's new Faraway Press label. The first, 'Shadows from the Album Skies', was a looong beautiful drone stretched over the entire cd. This one offers more of Chalk's characteristic masterful dronescaping but, due to the shorter track lengths, what we have here is a drone album with a palpable sense of urgency. Now, don't get me wrong, this album still moves at a snails pace but it's a pretty nimble snail. For me certain types of drones remind me of certain times of day. For instance, 'Soliloquy for Lilith' by NWW is undoudtedly a night time drone. It's bathed in darkness and night-time rhythms. 'The River That Runs...', however, feels decidedly early morning. The stunning mid-range drones that Chalk conjures and their shimmering harmonics evoke the feel of a summer sunrise. This is transcendant music, celebratory and triumphant like all good sunrises.
Andrew Chalk - Vega
It's snowing outside and it's very cold. I'm wearing two jumpers and the heater is pulled up next to my chair. I have candles burning in the hope that they'll help warm the room. I'm holding a mug of hot coffee in my left hand and I'm typing slowly, and badly, with my right. The speakers are either side of my head and pouring from them is this album. This album is hot chocolate with marshmallows on a winter's night. It's an old pair of trainers. It's an extra hour in bed on a weekday morning. It's hot buttered toast. It's a favourite baggy jumper. It's soft, it's warm, it's sensuous, it's sinuous, it molds itself to you like a feather duvet. This is, quite simply, exquisite.
Andrew Chalk - Blue Eyes of the March
I listened to this in my garden, on headphones, whilst sitting watching a blackbird decimate the grasshopper population. I couldn't tell where the music ended and the rest of the world began.
Andrew Chalk - Goldfall
It's on vinyl, it's beautifully presented in handmade packaging and the title tells you exactly what it sounds like.
Andrew Chalk - Goldfall
This is what dreams sound like. Not the ones you get if you've eaten too much cheese before going to sleep but the ones you get just as you're waking up and every part of your body is relaxed, warm and comfortable.
Andrew Chalk - The River That Flows Into The Sands II
Not so much a follow-up more a continuation of Andrew Chalk's earlier album of the same(ish) name. Recorded at the same time and using the same techniques as volume one this could have been a disastrous rehash of that earlier work and in less capable hands this would have been the case. Andrew however displays his trademark care, patience and skill in teasing out the minutiae of sounds that are his calling card to produce not so much a worthy successor but a stunning continuation of one of his finest works to date.
Andrew Chalk - Time of Hayfield
Time of Hayfield, the latest beautifully packaged and perfectly realised album from Mr. Chalk, presents a cascading array of weightless tones and drones that float effortlessly from your speakers. Andrew's compositions are laced with a glow that spreads effortlessly across the room. His music flows upon it's own unravelling melodies that gracefully and sedately roll ever outwards.
This time round things are a little more insistent than is often the case. The mix is that little bit more forceful and the sounds are just a tad more resolute therefore not allowing concentration to waver. What comes as no surprise is that 'Time of Hayfield' was recorded at the same time as Andrew's truly stunning 'Goldfall' album as it shares many of the textures and atmospheres as that release which lends this album a familiarity to those of us lucky enough to have heard the precursor. As ever this is hugely recommended.
Andrew Chalk - East of the Sun
Originally released in 1993-94, this is the latest in a string of astonishingly good albums from Andrew Chalk via his own Faraway Press imprint. Slow, heavy pulses merge with overlapping washes of sound. Interestingly, it's impossible to play this album loudly, it's inherently quiet. Even with the volume turned way up it pretty much hovers at the edges of perception as if it's daring you to let your attention wander. The instrumentation is masked in reverb and delay removing the distraction of familiar sounds and leaving you afloat on an ocean of warm honey. Immaculate.
Andrew Chalk - The Cable House
(Faraway Press 15)
It's always a good day when a parcel from Faraway Press drops through the letter box (or in this case is handed to me by the postman). There are few people that can even come close to matching the extraordinarily beautiful music that Andrew Chalk produces.
Heavy duty vinyl in unique hand printed wood block sleeve wrapped around a set of 5 short and 1, utterly sublime, long track. The music, of delicately processed piano recordings, is reminiscent of early ambient Eno and William Basinski's disintegration loops (particularly on the 5 shorter tracks that make up side 1) but essentially this is pure Chalk and it's phenomenal. If you ever feel the need to take my word on something do it now and buy this before it's gone forever.
Ephemeral, intoxicating, essential.
Andrew Chalk, Daisuke Suzuki, Naoko Suzuki - Ghosts on Water
5 tracks for voice, flute, percussion, piano, field recordings and kantele (a small Finnish harp) and a sharp change of style for Mr. Chalk. Here we hear his music in a more 'song' (those inverted commas are very important) orientated format. This entire EP is barely as long as one track on his other albums and provides a very different listen to anything I've heard from him before. As ever the atmosphere is soft and sumptuous, you sink into Chalk's music like an overstuffed armchair, but the addition of voices and the more obvious instrumentation (at least compared to his other releases) mean this is a less immersive listen than is often the case. Here one gets to hear the minutiae of the music rather than being suspended inside the swirling whole. It's an interesting excursion and one I hope is explored in greater depth in the future, especially the solo(ish) piano work on tracks 4 & 5 which is simply divine.
Andrew Chalk & Daisuke Suzuki - The Days After
Reissue of an earlier cut by this Anglo-Japanese pairing. Two tracks of transcendent tones and curious half-melodies that pluck the thoughts from your mind and leave you breathless and becalmed. No-one, and I really mean no-one, does this better than Andrew Chalk
Andrew Chalk & Daisuke Suzuki - The Shadows Go Their Own Way
(Siren Records 015)
Fabulous new collaboration between UK drone artist Andrew Chalk and Japanese field recordist Daisuke Suzuki following on from their previous two releases (The Days After & Senshu). These collaborations are a different animal from Andrew’s solo releases (I can’t comment on Daisuke’s as I’ve never heard any) as the gentle, translucent drone is replaced by disjointed half-melodies and sing song sonorities. The pair, ably assisted by their respective partners, Vikki Jackman & Naoko Suzuki, meld a plethora of instruments and strategies to create a hallucinogenic swirl of sound. It’s difficult to focus fully on the music for long as it’s nebulous nature means it easily folds around your perceptions lulling you into a fully immersed stupor from which you can only emerge when the musicians allow (or when some outside inconsiderate interrupts the music).
Always wonderful and always recommended.
Andrew Chalk & Daisuke Suzuki - In Faxfleet Clouds Uplifted Autumn Gave Passage To Kind Nature
(Faraway Press 17)
Arriving in the same parcel as Andrew's sublime Cable House album this EP by him and Japanese field recordist Daisuke has gotten a little neglected by yours truly which is a crying shame as it's really rather fine. The occasional meetings between these two always produce a music that is more wilfully experimental and angular than Andrew's solo works and this is no exception.
Side one is a wash of slowly mixing primary colours over a clattering loop. It's nicely psychedelic and has a deliciously Cluster-esque quality to it.
Side two has two tracks. The first is a melding of insistent drones and urban (mostly) field recordings. Cars, voices, animals (dogs & crickets) and more rise and fall in the mix against a series of overlapping tones. The second is a short track of stacked tones. Each placed precariously upon the other in a Babel-like attempt to reach the heavens.
Like I said earlier, this release got overshadowed for me by it's compatriot but it's a very different animal. It's colours are sharper than the delicate blurs of Andrew's solo work and Daisuke's recordings are the perfect foil for these more primary tones grounding them whilst simultaneously opening them up to wider, as opposed to deeper, horizons.
Andrew Chalk - Ghosts of Nakhodka
The first ever review written for WWR (or ECReviews as it was called then) was an Andrew Chalk album. He set my benchmark for what constitutes a perfect release and has subsequently exceeded it on numerous occasions. Let's be straight here if you've not listened to me yet about just how good this here fella is and gone out and sourced every one of his available releases then really what's the point in you reading me.
Andrew is at the absolute peak of his game at the moment. everything he lets us hear is another plateau, higher, grander and more panoramic than the previous. Ghosts of Nakhodka is a real showcase piece consisting of one longer piece of sumptuous drone music followed by a cavalcade of shorter instrumental sketches each of which throws out more moments of beauty, clarity and empathy than many musicians manage in a lifetime.
If you're not buying everything he releases then you're not buying anything that matters.
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay - Eye Contact With The City
One track of 56 minutes entitled 'Elegy for Bangalore' makes up this here album from Gruenrekorder and it's another, in a very long line of, absolute corker.
At it's core is a piece made for a sound / video installation of the same name which has subsequently been expanded from it's 10 minute runtime into this much longer and more detailed version.
The recordings are, at their core, a phonology of the city of Bangalore with particular interest in those areas currently being redeveloped. To this has been added sounds from salvaged reel-to-reel tapes.
The end result is an intriguing, if often slightly lethargic soundscape that evokes an almost palpable sense of post-industrial ennui amidst it's desolate crashes, thumps and constant background babble.
I get sent a lot of processed field recordings here at WWR. They've been kinda de rigeur for the last little while particularly those of the stream and bird variety. I don't get anywhere near as many that have the urban sprawl at their genesis and that's a shame because they are usually very interesting and this is no exception.
Cheapmachines - Transit
(Locus of Assemblage)
Cheapmachines' version of the drone eschews the almost stereotypical mellowness that many think characterises such music and instead opts for a far more insistent and muscular variety. The 16 (and change) minute rolling organ tone that makes up the bulk of the sound on offer here is a frontal lobe squeezing, third-eye squeegeeing, perspective contorting hallelujah of otherworldly bliss. Far too short to be fully satisfying and exactly the right length to leave you desperately craving for more.
Chemins - cdr #1
A single 24 minute track entitled 'Let's let the grass grow over it' makes up this nice little release from Finnish outfit Chemins. It's a well constructed excursion through your third eye with enough variation to keep the journey fresh and comparatively lively throughout. There are moments that don't work so well, the Faust-like drum-line that makes it's presence known periodically during the later half of the album sometimes feels a little superfluous against the delicate coils of drone and rarely stays long enough to cement it's role in the proceedings. That said though I've very much enjoyed this album and have had it on repeat for much of the last 2 days. Definitely worth checking out.
Chemins - CDR #2
One of the highlights of the last issue of WWR was the debut album from Chemins who have now followed that release with another single track dose of their low-key, melancholy expressionist sound-painting. CDR#2 embraces the mores of electronica, ambient and noise music to create a stunningly mature composition that has found itself looping around my seedee player for the last fortnight.
Chemins - cdr #3
Every other month or so in 2010 I've received another little 20 minute postal missive from this Finnish outfit. This one is, at least initially, a far more solemn affair than the other two filled with trepidation and despair before opening up in the latter half of the album into a gloriously expansive cosmic keyboard swirl.
Across the three releases Chemins have proved themselves to be adept at shifting between the poles of ambient music and have already created a body of work that many in the field would (and should) envy. They produce music that exists in and of itself without any of the tiresome and trite clichés appended to it that so haunt this little corner of the music world.
Chemins - cdr#4
These little bi-monthly(ish) parcels from this Finnish outfit have been a real treat and this fourth instalment does nothing to spoil that run.
Chemins play a slow build drone with occasional percussive flurries and electronic flourishes. Their music is understated and unhurried and usually with just a tinge of kraut style cosmic exploration.
The sole track, 'The Myths of Physicists', that makes up cdr#4 is constantly turning wheel of sound. It's opening gambit of forceful abrasion soon relaxes into a softer shape which in turn acquires some grit and debris as it rolls. For the bulk of the piece the music is content to gently unfurl with only the faintest of embellishments to avoid cluttering the ambience. When it does erupt it does so in a nicely organic manner that carries one along nicely.
Another quality release from this ensemble. If drones are your thing and you're not already following these fellas then you really are missing out.
Chemins - cdr #5
Apparently this is the last we'll see of Chemins for a little while which is a damn shame. Their five little cdr releases have been one of the absolute highlights of the last year. The good news is thought that they're going away to concentrate on writing a full length album for release next year sometime.
CDR #5 continues where the 4 previous left off with Chemins luxurious soundworld of slow drones and introspective guitar interspersed with flickering electronic and rolling builds all present and accounted for. This time out though the lovely wee fellas have added a host of other interesting twits and textures to the mix. There's a vaguely lounge jazz air to one part and a distinctly middle eastern flavour to another before the whole thing rises for a euphoric conclusion.
It all adds up to yet another really rather wonderful 20 minutes spent in very good company indeed. I cannot wait for the album.
Chemins - impasse #1
One of the recent high points of writing Wonderful Wooden Reasons has been being one of the recipients of the CDR series of releases by this fantastic Finnish ensemble.
This mini-CDR is an involuntary beginning of a new project from the group prompted by an unexpected musical impasse during the recording of their debut full length album.
The 14 minutes of music represents a journey that touches on many of the areas their previous releases have visited. The music rolls smoothly from one texture to the next with only the change at 5:02 feeling forced. The rest represents yet another beautifully somnolent piece of music from this collective.
Chubby Wolf - Seasick
(Mystery Sea MS69)
Chubby Wolf was Danielle Baquet-Long of Celer who after her sad passing the other year has left us with an impressive legacy of music.
Here on the revived Mystery Sea label she presents us with a long piece of dark drone filled with flickering light. It's a very nice slow moving composition that sets a sedate pace and maintains it throughout without ever feeling as though it's gotten itself trapped within it's own heartbeat. There are moments when the mix is a little off for my tastes and things occasionally get a little boomy but these certainly do not spoil the experience.
It is on the whole though a lovely little piece that nicely whiles away some time in an atmosphere of conducive warmth.
Circle Six - Momentary
I don't know why but on first glance I expected this mini CDR from Circle Six to be a riot of noise and aggression. Maybe it's the monochrome disc art or maybe it's the starkness of the track titles (Frozen, Chelae, Holder, Opening in the Ground) but I was expecting another bedroom Masonna wannabe hurling his distorted screaming into the winds. That's not the case. On 'Momentary' Circle Six marry a variety of styles and sounds to great effect. Sure there's plenty here to keep all bar the most retarded of noiseheads happy but Circle Six also add spice to the recipe through judicious restraint and a cool sense of rhythm. As ever with 3" discs this is a little short to make a full and frank decision on the particular merits of the band but equally I think 3" CDRs are the perfect format for noise music. Just long enough to excite but not long enough to bore. Recommended.
Circle Six - Diary of a Glitch Born Baby
(Roil Noise RNOCDR092)
Based around a sample from the anti-abortion abortion / masterpiece (depending on your particular point of view) Diary of an Unborn Child by Lil' Markie (get the original here). Circle Six take the refrain and drench it in disjointed glitch and growl that strangely makes Lil' Markie (actually American televangelist Mark Fox) seem less fucked-up and disturbing. This does however feel like a off-hand piece of whimsy from Circle Six and I think should be regarded as such.
Joda Clement – The Narrows
Clements contribution to the Unfathomless discography is a single 35 minute piece sourced from a variety of places – 3 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec and 1, curiously, in Austria.
The textured dronework presented here is very much inline with the preferred oeuvre of the label but with the added level of its musicality. It’s a cluttered and gritty musicality but one that presents its repurposed field-recordings with a composers ear rather than a collagists. It is a stately piece of music both in its pace and in its demeanour.
There’s a real sense of scope as it lays both time and space bare unfolding and slowly refolding both in order to ensure the listener has been brought to a new place by the experience presented before them.
This is easily one of my favourite Unfathomless releases and that, my friends, is no mean feat.
Cliff Bastard - Recondite
(Dead Sea Liner 30)
We return to the always reliable Dead Sea Liner label with this set from a new name to me. New and, if my reading of the liner notes is correct, a game face adopted by one Lee Husher, which is a much friendlier name.
The music here is a set of 6 low, slow, dark and deep amorphous ambient pieces eminently suitable for your next Cthulhu summoning party. There's nothing really here that is new to the world of dark drone but it assembles a suitable vibe and maintains it throughout the album and as ambient music used whilst engaged on other tasks it performs it's role admirably.
Clocks and Clouds - In A Pentagonal Room
(Archive of Anaphoria AOA3)
A welcome return to the pages of Wonderful Wooden Reasons for Kraig Grady. Here, the chief ambassador for the great island nation of Anaphoria ably assisted by Terumi Narushima mesmerise with a stunning set of delicate and spacious microtonal works recorded in the titular pentagonal room and presented bereft of any subsequent studio tweakery.
For this recording Kraig and Terumi made use of instruments (vibraphone and harmonium respectively) tuned to the 'meta-slendro' scale designed by Erv Wilson. Now, I tried to read up on it in order to try and cue you folks in on it but truthfully it just gave me a headache so I stopped but if music theory is your bag then you should check this out - anaphoria.com/wilsonintroMERU.html.
For me, as ever, it's the noises that count and this is delightful. It floats and twists and trips over itself in the most sublime ways. Sounds gently push at each other, playfully wrestling and merging in ways that sound like they shouldn't work but absolutely do.
Clutter Vs Susan Matthews - Slow Corrosion EP
(Earth Monkey Productions 002)
Susan is a perennial favourite here at WWR (this is her third appearance in these pages this year) but Clutter on the other hand are a completely new property to these tired old ears. The music on offer on this mini-cd is much more grounded than Matthews solo work. The usually all pervasive ephemeral exoticism of her music has been replaced by industrial rhythms, disjointed half-melodies and static-charged noise cascades. I like this, I don't think I'll play it very often, it's just a little too mechanical for my tastes, but I'll definitely be playing it. I found myself missing Susan's vocals which in itself is unusual for me as I generally am not a vocals fan but to my mind they are the heart of Susan's music and I think it would have been interesting if Clutter had made wider use of them in his adroit re-workings. In all it's a very interesting diversion and a bold and welcome sideways step into the unknown (presumably for both participants) which should always be applauded.
Clutter - Yellow Light Discarded
4 track teeny seedee from this Cumbrian composer. The former duo being based around field recordings (rain and a local street respectively) to which Shaun (Blezard) has added drones and assorted electronic ephemera, the latter twosome being as before but sans the filed recordings part. I like Clutter. His music is the exact opposite of what his name implies. He does indeed seem to throw sounds around but nothing ever seems superfluous and he happily varies sound, mood, texture and tone throughout the runtime which is something that many people in this odd little musical universe of ours are often loathe to do. I'm not 100% sold on some of the sounds he uses but on the whole YLD is a nifty little set of psychedelic abstractions and is well worth a listen.
Coelacanth - Mud Wall
(Mystery Sea MS11)
Coelacanth is the duo of Jim Haynes and Loren Chasse and this is the CDR release on Mystery Sea of an album that is currently on re-release through Helen Scarsdale (although at the time of writing Mystery Sea still have a couple of copies left of this original release).
Mud Wall is a vitually impenetrable 41 minutes of the most aptly titled music I have come across in years. There is a depth here that takes repeated listens to fully appreciate. The sounds are so thick and cloying that you can almost feel yourself being sucked in. The production is heavy and oppressive, probably deliberately so, and the pace is slow and relentless. Recommended for those with a taste for the extreme ends of the ambient spectrum.
Coeval / Miguel A. Garcia / Miguel Prado - Tirasse
(Ephre Imprint eph007/2011)
Only one of these names is familiar to me (Garcia) and he's a regular in these pages. His is a soundworld of noisily angular constructions. Here those are married with field recordings and guitar to create a soundscape of watery cadences and instrumental plucks and scrabbles.
It's an interesting journey but not one that you can easily submerge into. It's, for the most part, a fairly minimalist and sparse experience broken only by sudden apocalyptic eruptions that wrench one back into the moment. There're some interesting moments here sand the restraint is admirable and I kinda like the awkwardness of the music. It shows a trio that have a commonality of ideas but have yet to quite achieve a commonality of expression.
Maile Colbert - Moborosi
New release on the always recommended Twenty-Hertz label is a set of rolling melodies, sung poetry and digital tones by American sound artist and film-maker Maile Colbert. Moborosi is a pot-pouri of ideas and sounds as Colbert melds both organic and synthetic sound sources to usually impressive effect. There are moments that didn't really capture my attention. These being the more 'song' orientated moments, in particular, track 2 (Day of Fire) with it's reverb laden choral vocal line. I can hear that it's done with a deft touch for that sort of thing but it moved me not. Fortunately the rest of the album is more to my taste, a gently swirling soundworld of abstractions throughout which Colbert creates fragile melodies from the unlikeliest of sounds.
Concern - Truth & Distance
(Digitalis Industries ACE016)
Whilst probably being more of an ep (remember them) than an album this is 30 minutes of loveliness from Gordon Ashworth via the ever wonderful Digitalis label that should be very high on any right-thinking music lovers wants list.
The album opens with it's longest and most euphoric composition. This 17 minute title track, from a slow crackled beginning, rises to stand naked in the sun engaging in a joyous droning cry to the heavens before laying itself down to rest as it began. Track 2 (Young Birth) is no less blissful than it's predecessor but is more restrained in it's rapture. The acoustic drone (the whole album is acoustic) delicately threading it's way to it's end, requiring you to do absolutely nothing except enjoy the ride. Final track, Heartsink, takes you from the comfort zone of the previous two tracks into a slowly emerging cascading piano melody that brings the album to a close.
A short but perfectly formed declaration of Ashworth's musical truths.
Content and Daruin - Gacha Gacha Clink Clank
Split album from Japanese label NEUS-318 featuring two tracks from Macedonian composer Boban Ristevski (Content, Shg) and one from label owner Kazuya Ishigami (Daruin).
Ristevski's opener is a stuttering tonal piece of undulating electronic bips over a whirring textural base. The phrase that popped into my head is busy minimalism which despite it being pretty much a contradiction in terms is I think also pretty much spot on. His second continues that theme with a piece constructed out of a repetitive squeak over a fluttering wave form. I like both pieces very much indeed. They're representative of a type of music I don't really come across much anymore which is a shame.
Ishigami's single contribution is 18 minutes of twisting electronics. It's a fairly linear progression of sounds as each idea is set in motion does it's thing and is then replaced by the next. It is however in a constant state of flux and there's enough verve on display to make this a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
I'd never heard of either of these two fellas before so I came to this release utterly cold but am walking away distinctly impressed.
Rod Cooper - Accepting the Machines
OK I'm feeling pretty stupid right now. Let me explain why. I have in front of me a sheet of red card in a plastic baggy. Loose inside the baggy is a business card seedee which I've just spent the last 15 minutes trying to find the music on. There's a nice little biog of Australian artist Cooper and some examples of his work but I couldn't find any bloody music. Anyway, I'd given up looking and was just about to see if I'd have any more luck with the labels other new release when I finally noticed the actual seedee (complete with music) inside the red card sleeve. Oops.
For the most part I wasn't hugely taken with the music. Its well constructed musique-concrete and it definitely had it's moments but on the whole felt too self-conscious and remote for me to truly engage with. Apart, that is, from the final (and longest) track, 'Morning Clock Pole Wire' which is a beautifully warm and inviting composition full of the ticks, tocks, clunks and stutters of a large (sounding) clock over a nicely understated ambient hum.
Erik De Cordier - Dyshim
(Ephre Imprint EPH06)
Two new releases from Ephre this month, this one from Italian De Cordier takes recordings made in what he terms 'night-time locations' and re-contextualises them into some really rather intriguing compositions.
When I saw 'graveyards' and 'desecrated churches' listed on the CDs reverse I must admit I did cringe a little. Fortunately I don't get too much cheesy death-obsessing sent to me here but the occasional one does get through. I'm happy to say though that 'Dyshim' has far more going for it than pointless emo / goth naval-gazing. There are some moments when it seems that the 'evil' is being turned up but on the whole De Cordier uses his sound-sources to create a nicely disquieting set of grittily amorphous nocturnal meanderings.
Corpoparassita - Ilbelgioco
(Industrial Culture Records ICR011)
One of a series of interesting mini-CDRs from Industrial Culture Records, Italian duo Corpoparassita present what is claimed to be 'the soundtrack to your worst nightmare'. A bold claim and, I have to say, a little over-ambitious, this certainly isn't the soundtrack to any of mine. What we do have is two slightly insubstantial dark ambient style rumbles and a Discharge 'cover' that is surely unrecognisable to even the hardest-core Discharge fan but is conversely my favourite track here. It's not a bad little EP by any means it's just that it's also nothing that hasn't been heard many times before. Worth a listen if your big into the whole DA thing but if you're not then this isn't going to change your mind.
Valerio Cosi - Heavy Electronic Pacific Rock
If ever there was an album title that was going to confuse the casual passer-by then this one has got to be a candidate. Italian Saxophonist Cosi has created an absolutely staggering set of eastern tinged explorations of his instrument garnished with some immaculately conceived bursts of rhythm and noise (by which I do not mean the black clad and screaming scat-muncher variety but more the wild-eyed and giggling acid casualty variety). The closest parallel I could give you to Cosi's compositions would be early Krautrock, indeed track 3, 'Proud to be a Kraut - A Burning OM - Reprise', is probably the best song Neu never recorded, but still this music is purely and simply his own. Even at it's most repetitive and atonal there is a musicality bubbling just under the surface that makes 'Heavy Electronic Pacific Rock' a deliciously addictive and joyous experience. Over the last month it has taken root in my seedee player refusing to allow anything else a turn but that's fine by me as this is easily one of the best albums I've heard in 2008.
Valerio Cosi - Collected Works
(Porter Records PRCD - 4008)
The last Valerio Cosi album I heard was a late contender for my favourite album of 2008. This Valerio Cosi album is an early contender for my favourite album of 2009.
Saxophonist Cosi is on great form here on a set of free-wheeling instrumentals. This is music created from an undiluted love of sound. Never descending in cacophony but always flying the torch for chaos. Cosi's recordings are stunningly anarchic mixing jazz, world, ethnic, electronica, noise and much more over a searing psychedelic flame. The eclecticism on display is breath-taking as is the musicianship and whilst Cosi's saxophone is often, understandably, the lead instrument on these recordings it is never at the cost of the dynamics of the composition, often fading (almost) away to let the music live and breathe.
An immaculate album, heartily and unreservedly recommended.
Cracked Dome vs Ghoul Detail
(Roil Noise RNOCDR037)
Getting sent lots of split albums lately. This one features one newbie and one old friend. Cracked Dome is the newcomer and he opens the proceedings with a, deceptive but rather splendid, circular noise drone. Deceptive because track 2 arrives dripping with speaker shattering shards of harsh and aggressive noise that set the pace for the rest of his contributions. Big, bad and bold, it's loud enough to dominate your attention and it's quick enough to keep you interested.
Ghoul Detail, from here on referred to as Jon, is in a strange place on this album and first impression is of how well he's started melding the voice samples with the music. Played loud, track one will definitely get your neighbours talking. I used to find the voices a little intrusive but this is spot-on. Second impression comes 5 tracks later when you realise that it's 5 tracks later and he's taken you on a journey over which you had no control whatsoever. absolute bliss. I love it when an album mangles my perceptions and this one did it to the Nth degree. The final two tracks brought me back to earth very nicely and are all recommended but it's for tracks 7 to 12 (apologies for not writing tracktitles) that this album is a must hear.
Crepuscular - Deep Slow Majesty
(Black Drone BDRL002)
My first exposure to the work of this, I think, Argentinean musician via new label Black Drone. If I tell you that the name defines as 'pertaining to twilight' which, in concert with the album title and the name of the label he's chosen to release it on, should give you a pretty (by which I mean utterly) accurate idea about where this here fella is going with his sounds. Deep and slow are definitely the order of the day here. The music generally revolves around round drones with sparsely added colour through, what sounds like, synths. These self same synths mean it's a little overblown in places and ends up feeling a little too obviously dark but on the whole he's got a deft touch and a good ear and it's a nice way to spend half an hour.
Alistair Crosbie - musicforshipwrecks
Giving your album a strikingly similar cover image to one of the finest compositions of the 20th century, the Les Disques Du Crepuscule release of Gavin Bryars' Sinking of the Titanic, is always going to grab my attention but it does place the album in a perilous place regarding the expectations it has raised in my mind. Musically, there are similarities also, as Crosbie's muse is a melodically ambient one and he is imbuing the music with a distinctly aquatic feel (as you can probably guess from the title).
On first listen I wasn't too taken with 'musicforshipwrecks' as it seemed a little insubstantial but subsequently I've discovered previously un-noticed depths and have grown to like it very much indeed. The production lets it down as it sounds a little timorous and thin in places and the sounds often strain during the swells. This may be deliberate but, whether it is or not, it is distracting. The 19 (and change) minutes of the second track is the real gem here as it rolls and soars throughout but the other three are all eminently listenable. Recommended.
Ctacik - In Order To Prevent Sense
I must admit that the sleeve design for this one, a photo of a woman's torso (ribs to knees) being held by four male hands each of which has large nails sticking out of them, had me a little fooled. I took one look and relegated it to the bottom of the pile of Verato cds thinking it was going to be a load of pseudo-goth noise tosh and as such it's the last of their releases to make it onto my player. I did it a disservice. It's actually far more interesting than that.
'In Order...' is a very nicely melded amalgam of tone and drone ambience decorated with some nicely sparse and melancholic instrumentation and field recordings. It's, for the most part, a disquietingly sad set of compositions that periodically erupt with fiery eloquence. It's a very theatrical album. Admittedly some of the sounds he (or she or they) use are a little, not so much hackneyed but, dated and this does distract on occasion but it's been mixed beautifully and filled with ideas meaning it's easy to slip back into the music after these minor interruptions.
Recommended heavily to those with a taste for the macabre.
Ctephin / Rabbit Girls / Damno Te / Ghoul Detail - Split
(Roil Noise RNOCDR038)
American label Roil Noise specialise in the dark and deep ends of the drone and noise pool. Size is the name of the game here. Massive, pummeling, tumultuous noise (Ctephin), beats you could drive in rivets with (Rabbit Girls, Damno Te) and drones that would blanket an ocean (Ghoul Detail). Each band (although only Ctephin conform to that description) is on fine form although an over-reliance on synthetic sounds does leave parts of the album sounding a little cold and distant but as an introduction to both the artists and the label this is a fine release (far more so than the distinctly patchy R.I.N.O. compilation (see review elsewhere)).
Ctephin / Ghoul Detail / Spagirus - Aural Sects
(Roil Noise RNOCDR052)
Three way split on the Roil Noise label of two of their stalwarts and one newcomer (to me at least). Ctephin provide gritty, crackly, tonal play, overlaying sparse forlorn drones with an ocean of spluttering noise. They come over all Merzbow on track two before settling into a disjointed and cacophonous pseudo-Arabian melody on track three. The hammered guitars of their fourth contribution brings their section to a suitably riotous close.
Our old friend Ghoul Detail is in a decidedly mellow mood on his three tracks (mellow being an entirely relative term) and it's not until the seventh mnute of his third track that things really come to a head. I like this more restrained side of GD as he lets the sound do the work for him and the music swells and flows with a logic all it's own.
Spagirus are a new name to me and here provide a single long track of pulsating, soaring drones. It's big, its loud and it's beautiful.
One of the best Roil Noise releases I've heard and heartily recommended for all three contributors.
Ctephin - Hey, at least it's not crack
(Roil Noise RNOCDR075)
Business Card CDR
Roil Noise regulars Ctephin make a welcome return to my stereo with this one track mini-CDR. It's a very different Ctephin to the one I had heard previously as the wall of sound has been replaced by slow effected guitars overlaid over a deteriorating, shuddering back drone. It's really rather lovely but waaaaaay too short. My hope is that it's a taster of what's to come.
Ctephin & Mystified - Diminished
(Roil Noise RNOCDR041)
Two long tracks from these WWR regulars both of whom are on top of their game here. Ctephin take a beautiful disharmonic journey through a galaxy of clashing bell tones, acid trails and cataclysmic event horizons. It's probably not a place you could live for long periods but for half hour visits (32 minutes 58 seconds to be precise) it's a dream destination. For Mystified it's the drone that is becoming increasingly central to his work. Here he breaks up his sedate constructions with recordings of water drops that are maybe a little over-processed for my comfort but they create interesting diversions before the next wave of sound rolls in.
Ctephin - Liber XXXI
(R.O.N.F. Records rnf-031)
My previous exposure to Ctephin had been via their riotous releases on the Roil Noise label which while being enjoyable enough are of a form that interests me less and less of late. So, with this in mind, it was with a little trepidation that I slotted the first of this trio of seedees into my player but to say I was pleasantly surprised would be a massive understatement.
Disc one is beautiful. It is the sound of loss, forgetfulness, foreboding and melancholy. Ctephin have taking the noise they are so fond of and bound it tightly within a previously hidden compositional skill that took my breath away. I was so utterly absorbed into the music that when disturbed by my partner I was shocked to realise only two tracks had passed in what seemed like a journey of an hour. Some of the production is a little muddy (particularly on track 4) but the music more than covers this minor shortfall.
Disc two is a slightly more intense affair although it does continue pretty much where disc one leaves off. This one develops in a more sci-fi sounding direction full of kaleidoscopic swirls and xenomorph chittering.
Disc three is where the Ctephin I already knew come out and play and the seedee is dominated by slowly evolving noise rumbles. It's well enough made but didn't particularly engage my interest.
A 3 disc set was always going to be a difficult prospect to pull off but it must be said that Ctephin have raised their game mightily and, for the most part, have succeeded with aplomb. For me the first two discs (the first in particular) are fine sets of muscular yet atmospheric compositions that hooked me utterly and refused to relinquish that hold until they were good and ready to do so. Recommended.
Cria Cuervos - Ilauna
(Locus of Assemblage mass21)
You know that scene in a movie where the orchestra is getting ready to play and they're sitting there warming up by scraping, plucking, tuning and generally being all discordant and noisy. Yes? Well, in the case of Cria Cuervos that scene is the starting point, the ending point and indeed the whole point although instead of a orchestra you should maybe picture the backline from Einsturzende Neubauten and the day-shift from your local ironworks. You're intrigued, I can tell. You should be, it's very good.
Culver - Blue Angel
(Muzzedia Verhead 010)
Teeny weeny mini-cdr from Gateshead resident Lee Stokoe of deep dark ambient drone. Its isolationist tendencies are firmly rooted in it's cavernous rumble. Consisting of a mostly constant, gritty drone over and under which slow tones ebb and flow like a soupy ocean.
Sonically it's a little on the murky side which makes it hard to separate some of the individual sounds and could probably have benefited from a little more clarity in the mix but it does what it does very nicely for the 16 minute runtime and offers an immersive journey to those with a penchant for the dark.
(verhead [AT] muza.freeserve.co.uk)
Culver & Karst - Mile High Volcano
(Lisca Records lisca012)
More noisy discordant grumbling, rumbling, stumbling grit and grime from the Lisca stable.
This one is a longform piece of slowly rolling rockfall pushing it's way inexorably down the mountain side. It's a fairly static and impenetrable piece with little to colour or lighten the tumult and as such it's difficult to find any words.
Do I like it? Yeah, I do.
Why? I don't really know.
Explain? It's kinda the noise equivalent of truly ambient music in that it's at its best when you're not really listening to it and it's just growling away in the background. It's been doing that a lot over the past few days and it's not got annoying but equally there's nothing here to really point your ears at.
Amelia Cuni & Werner Durand - Already Awake in the Night
(ini itu #1003)
A beautiful set of compositions from this pair. I say pair but two of the three tracks feature the sarod of David Trasoff but he's not listed as a composer so doesn't get title billing (which seems a bit mean to me but there you go). The music, according to the text on the back of the sleeve, is based around the Hindustani Raag Lalit and the Raag Todi and are here reinterpreted through Cuni's voice and Durand's sympathetically and warmly processed sine waves (not forgetting Trasoff's sarod). The music is alive with gentle movements that bestow a vaporous quality that allows it to drift through the air. In many ways I am reminded of the compositions of Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparyan as they share deeply spiritual, translucent and nebulous quality.
A really rather lovely release, delicate, warm and very human.
Cursillistas - Wasp Stings The Last Bitter Flavor
(Digitalis Arts et Crafts Editions ACE 006)
Matt Lajoie's Cursillistas project has been winding it's own merry psyche-folk way for a couple of albums now, all of which had successfully passed me by until this release on the always magnificent Digitalis Records dropped through my door. It's my understanding that Cursillistas has been slowly evolving over time from a song oriented outfit into it's current free-rolling, trancey and, in all honesty, astonishing current incarnation. Mixing mantra-like chanting, loops of melody, tribal rhythms with an almost kosmiche exploratory vibe Cursillistas has produced an album of startling complexity and subtle nuances that twists your head into a huge bunch of different shapes. Very, very recommended.