Jo Gabriel - The Amber Sessions
Jo Gabriel - The Last Drive In
Jo Gabriel - Fools and Orphans
(Ephemera / Dancing Goat Music)
I'm happily breaking one of my own rules here by doing a single review of several releases by the one artist. Jo Gabriel is a New York pianist (and singer) who creates (on the whole) really nice, slightly off-kilter, gentle instrumentals. The main focus of the music, as you'd imagine, is the piano and it's beautifully played with each track containing a distinct and rolling melody that is backed up nicely by the supporting role of the other instruments. Many of these backing sounds are synthesised which is a shame as their inherent 'midi-ness' detracts slightly from the overall feel of the music but then again full string accompaniment is expensive so that can be easily excused.
The two early albums are for me the most satisfying as the later album (Fools and Orphans) sees Jo embracing vocals to a greater degree. Regular readers to WWR will have spotted that very little of the music featured here has vocals. Why? I'm just not that keen on them. Jo does her vocal thing well (think Kate Bush and you'll be on the right track). She has an impressive voice and a good ear for a song but ultimately it's not my particular cup of tea. Musically the album is as accomplished as the other two and as such I really felt that all three deserved a mention.
If you're bored of waiting for the new Kate Bush album then Fools is the one to go for but personally it's her instrumentals that truly carried me away and for that I heartily recommend the earlier two.
Rita Galetti - Falter
(Contra Musik Produktion CMP23)
I know very little about Rita Galetti. Actually, let me rephrase that. I know almost nothing about Rita Galetti but a quick interweb search tells me that she's a sound artist working out of Canada. Throughout the album she utilises a battery of equipment and techniques to create a continuously rolling set of compositions. There is a nicely melodic core to her work that is often missing in music with an experimental bent and the relaxed vibe that pervades much of the album is to be enjoyed. It is a little too restless at times, much of the album consists of short tracks, and some ideas could maybe have been worked out more fully and allowed to blossom in a more gradual and thorough manner. That said though the album at no point feels unfinished or rushed and is another in a list of fine releases coming via CMP.
Slava Ganelin & Vladimir Volkov - Ne Slyshno
(Auris Media aum012)
Piano and double bass duo meet in a first time collaboration that melds elements of free jazz with those of contemporary avant garde composition. The early part of the album sets off at a daunting, break-neck pace where each player seems determined to display their own virtuosity simultaneously. Over time this compulsion dies away and by track 3 they are in perfect sync. How much is improvised along a theme and how much is truly free is a question for more knowledgeable reviewers than me but what I hear is the sound of two accomplished musicians fully aware of each other and utterly at home in the music.
Miguel A. Garcia - Armiarmak
(RMO Productions RMOAG)
Some of you may already be familiar with M.A.G. under his Xedh alias which was certainly the more familiar to me. Here recording under his given name, Garcia has crafted an album almost entirely culled from sounds sourced solely from two microphones and a mixer. The nature of those two tools, to me at least, suggests a world of possible sounds but what is reproduced here sounds like an almost exclusively digital palette.
The sounds are harsh and cold but Garcia’s skill in collaging these sounds brings each piece to life. His compositional skills are beyond reproach but for me though, his source sounds are just too uninviting acting as a barrier, stopping me from engaging with the album. For 3 or so tracks I’m absorbed but slowly the sounds scrape away at my ears until I can stand no more. It’s a shame because Garcia is obviously an accomplished craftsman and in bite sized chunks this album is littered with quality moments but as a whole it was just too impenetrable.
Miguel A. Garcia - Live at El Tanque Gallery, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, 2007
(R.O.N.F. Records rnf-033)
This intriguing and ephemeral little seedee is a recording of a live show by Garcia in a converted water tower. The performance made use of on-site recordings and shards of electronically generated micro-sounds broadcast into and manipulated by the 15 second reverb of the space. It's a dark and solemn recording laced with trepidation and tense, elongated drifts of sound as Garcia painstakingly casts his sounds into the ether.
It's a deep and infectious set that must have been fun to experience first hand as even second hand it's nicely immersive.
Miguel A. Garcia – Red River / Rio Tinto
(Ghost & Son volume 5)
The press release of this brash and overt and early Neubauten-esque crashing, bashing, clanging, banging, keening, careening noise EP from our old friend ‘Xedh’ says, ‘Fortunately it only lasts about 20 minutes’. There’s not a lot I can add to that.
Guy Gelem - Works
(Split Femur Recordings SFR008)
Playing guitar, cello & laptop Guy Gelem is a one man post-rock band. 'Works' is a gently melodic album that brings to mind the melodic side of Explosions In The Sky, the less jazzy moments of Tortoise and also the work of (Amelie soundtrack composer) Yann Tiersen. It's beautifully played throughout and the mix is crisp and polished. Some of the beats are a little too artificial (or mechanical) for my tastes and I dearly would love to hear these tunes played live by a full band (including a live drummer) but this is a hugely impressive debut release and if post-rock is your bag then you really should give this a shot.
Pierre Gerard - Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze)
(Koyuki yuki 007)
Over the last however many years I've been writing Wonderful Wooden Reasons the number of truly minimalist recordings I've been sent is extremely low yet this month I have two, Wechseljahre Einer Hyäne by Radu Malfatti and this newest release by Belgium composer Pierre Gerard.
This is the sparsest of music. It's barely audible pops, squeaks, hisses and rattles are easily destroyed by the clatter of everyday life but in a quiet and relaxed environment they sing beautifully.
I find music of this sort to be utterly entrancing but equally I find it incredibly difficult to review but hopefully I've said enough to intrigue you into buying.
Pierre Gerard - Environment & Gesture
(3 Leaves 3L009)
Pierre Gerard is a master of the barely there brand of minimalism and a firm favourite here at Wonderful Wooden Reasons. His music is a perfect example of a truly ambient soundworld. His, often seemingly commonplace, sounds are so delicately positioned that it's all too easy to forget that there is a seedee playing and to thoroughly believe that these sounds are part of your immediate everyday environment.
This is music that augments on a level of subtlety that I find deliciously insidious. It spoils you for more overt sounds, they become cloying and bombastic, and leaves you craving the delicate fragility of these compositions.
Ghosts On Water - Senshu
Ghosts on Water is Andrew Chalk and Daisuke Suzuki and together the produce some of the finest quiet music around. On his solo recordings Andrew treats sound as a sort of misting or blurring of the senses. He blends the individual sounds into a multi-coloured expressionist colour-field. Daisuke's presence adds an extra dimension to the sound. There are sketches of melody in the slowly tumbling strings that, in places, give the work a vaguely eastern exoticism. Indeed it is the presence of what could, admittedly with a little stretching of the definition, be classed as melody that makes this album so impressive. It has an inherent lyricism that flows along and even across the broad, washing tones upon which everything is built.
As ever, heartily recommended.
Ghoul Detail - Strung Out In Skogar
(Roil Noise RNOCDR011)
one of a pile of seedees I traded for with John Ghoul Detail. This being, for me, the finest of a very good bunch. Huge rolling drones crash against the speakers sending soft, shards of noise bursting into your ears. 'Strung out...', and indeed, lots of Ghoul Detail's output is performing a balancing act on the line between noise and drone. This is a master wire walker at work here though. Effortlessly incorporating the best of both camps into a beautiful seemless whole. If I have one complaint with this album it's with the superfluous voice samples that only serve to break up the flow.
Ghoul Detail - Until The Day I Die
The last time I reviewed a Ghoul Detail cd I chose one of his more drone based releases. This one is more of a mixed bag. The harsh drones are still there and they're still sounding as good as ever. The middle section of the album (separate track-titles but it's all one long 60 minute piece - at least on my copy) is a series of overlapping and overdriven drones each bigger and more insistent than the one before. Interlaced with this we have a succession of beats, bleeps, throbs, squeals, crashes and pulses. Some parts work better than others, although this may well be down to my ambivalence towards beats, and the end is a bit abrupt but it's another damn fine release from the house of Ghoul.
Ghoul Detail - Beyond the 7 Doors
(Roil Noise RNOCDR069)
Release number 5342 for Jon (Ghoul Detail) Bayliss (and that's just this week) and like all the others I've heard it's an absolute corker. Huge, actually let me do that again, HUGE slabs of noise and monoliths of sound interspersed with samples from Lucio Fulci's flawed (that's especially for you Jon) masterpiece. I can think of no-one who does this sort of muscular drone and noise thing even half as well as Ghoul Detail and here he augments his sound with a more rhythmic and linear, almost song-based, structure.
This is a fantastic addition to the Ghoul Detail catalogue (I'll even go so far as to say it's one of his best) but what I would have liked even more would have been to hear him doing an actual re-soundtracking of the movie. In case you missed it, that was the sound of a gauntlet being thrown.
Ghoul Detail - Living on Borrowed Time
(Roil Noise RNOCDR058)
Over the years I've been doing WWR I've written more reviews for Ghoul Detail than pretty much anyone else. All are overwhelmingly positive because all have been deserving. He (Jon Bayliss) does the big, muscular, noise and drone thing better than anyone else I could name. So this time I'm not going to talk about what is, yet again, another damn fine release instead I'm going to talk about the weather.
The sky is grey today. Not the dull, heavy grey that signals rain but a light, off-white, grey. Occasionally patches of blue sky show through breaks in the cloud whilst gusts of wind are assaulting the tops of the trees in the woods behind my house. It's what I've decided to call a liminal day - it's almost sunny and yet also it's almost stormy. I like liminal days they are days filled with promise and trepidation. They are days of transition, of change and of surprises. One never really knows where one is with a liminal day. They are utterly wilful and gloriously unpredictable. I love them.
This album is a liminal day.
Ghoul Detail + GDR
(Roil Noise RNOCDR079)
A hit and miss release from these two artists. There is a glorious sub-tectonic roar that permeates throughout this recording and the extra noises swoop, dive, gong, blast, shudder, twitter, scrape, swoosh, slap, cough, quake and crash with aplomb but I'm just not connecting with it. The voice samples that appear periodically throughout don't help matters as they pull my focus away from the music and lend the whole a vaguely cartoony feel. I can't really put my finger on what it is that is making me keep this at arms length but something is. For me there are better GD releases out there and a visit to the GDR myspace page makes me believe that he also has more to his repertoire than what is on display here. It's recommended but with reservations.
Ghoul Detail - Smoke A Bowl Or Two
(Roil Noise RNOCDR048)
First off I'm really not sure why this is presented as two mini-CDrs when it could have been far better (and far less lumpily) presented as a single full sized CDR. It seems a strange choice to me but there you go - double disc it is.
Ghoul Detail have long been a favourite here at WWR and this release once again confirms his place in our hearts. Grimy, monolithic, leviathans (I've been waiting for an album to come along where I could link those two words) of noise roll ponderously forward like an encroaching ice-age of dirt. Occasionally shards of debris are pushed from the mass, the fleeting sounds and rhythms of their passing providing a last gasp of existence before they are swallowed by the relentless behemoth (that's another word I've been waiting to use) of sound as it rolls ever onward.
Ghoul Detail - Glory Hole
(Smell The Stench)
A set of guitar and effect pedal twisted and jagged post-industrial recordings from the Ghoul. Very much derived from the Skullflower school of sheet metal aural sculpture and a real step into the unknown for GD that deserves to be applauded both for the way he's balanced this new direction with his previous oeuvre and also because it's really, really good. Since my first listen I've known that GD is one of the most interesting and exciting artists in a noise scene that is becoming increasingly mundane and tiresome to me and here he proves that assertion once more. This is one glory hole that I suspect is a lot more fun to stick your ears into than your cock.
Ghoul Detail - Medicated
(Dark Meadow Recordings DMR006)
Jon Ghoul is a fucking monster! He's got jet black eyes that drink the life from puppies. He's got hands that drip with the blood of the innocent. On his flowing curly locks is a crown of kitten ribs angled to attract all the gritty bile of the universe and broadcast it directly into the eyes of unsuspecting orphans leaving them blinking madly amidst the maelstrom until a whisky soaked catholic priest in a stained smock and clutching a tear stained bible comes and takes them by the hand and leads them away.
He should be locked up for making music that sounds like this!
He should be removed from the civilised world on account of his depravity!
He should be canonised for services to the catholic church!
He should be listened to religiously!
Ghoul Detail vs. Norss - The Endless Days of Loss
(Norss Plåten No004)
It's an uncharacteristically mellow Ghoul Detail that greats our ears on this new (and very limited) split album. In place of his usual apocalyptic roar there is an understated post-industrial dark ambient rumble that links his three contributions. I like this side of his music (I like the other sides too) and I think it's a shame that it doesn't come out to play as often as it probably should.
Norss are very much in the same mould with his / her / their / it's (delete as applicable) contribution being generally more of the same but with the addition of a more aggressively noisy stance. It's a good track that is marred slightly by a poor mix but has a real nice flow to it. A little more time and attention spent on the production would have made this something really worth to listening to.
There're only 22 copies of this in existence so I think you'll be lucky to grab a copy but as with all Ghoul Detail releases it's well worth the effort.
Giant Bears - Whisper in the Hollows
CDR (+ handmade chapbook)
This lovely little cd and booklet combination turned up on my doormat a little while back. It's subtitled, 'The confused remnants of an awkward ghost story' and is intended to be a multi sensory journey as one reads and listens at the same time.
Now, even though I've read and enjoyed Burroughs, Ballard, Kafka and their ilk these days my tastes and my heart really lies in pulp - I loves me some trash sci-fi or a Victorian period detective novel - the more experimental stuff I've grown fairly ambivalent about. So with that in mind I found the writing to be a bit of a mess, a jumble of words without any real identifiable narrative and for me - being a pulp reader - narrative is everything.
The music on the other hand I really dug. It's fairly short clocking in at about 16 minutes but it's a nicely dense, mobile and variegated affair. Niall (Moody, the chap behind all this) has a nifty way with sound. It's full of life and light and he's unafraid to switch things around as can be seen with the transition between the more textural nature of the early tracks and the plaintively sung shoegazeriness of track 4.
So, it's a mixed bag for me the chapbook I read once, was intrigued by the idea but nothing more. The spooky, spectral, insular music on the other hand I've played many times and thoroughly enjoyed. It's a bold undertaking and one I really hope will flourish and grow. There's a further digital companion piece to be found at giantbears.bandcamp.com/album/lights-on-the-ridge
Gimlet Eyed Mariners - Dark Secret Love
(Slightly Off Kilter SOK040)
A fairly low-key ritual(ish) post-industrial landscape opens this seedee from this unusually named UK duo. Vast, wind-swept vistas stretch out before us as metallic stabs echo from unseen sources. An album of a slow tour around and across this topography would have been an interesting way to spend some time but 6 minutes in everything changes. Suddenly we are cast into a radiophonic playground of fluttering electronic tones. This is the soundtrack to every alien computer lab screened on TV in the 60s and 70s here in the UK.
Track 3 is a more glitchy affair with the stuttering rhythms providing a motive force for the slury melodies.
The album's final track brings a melding of much that has gone before as the haunting panorama returns although this time things have become decidedly odd. The view has become starker, the ground rougher and there's a definite tang in the air. It feels wrong, deliciously so.
An excellent album packed with invention whilst retaining a real sense of familiarity, it felt both comfortable and new all at once. It toyed with genres that all readers of this magazine will be very familiar with but in doing so it opened them up a little to a more contemporary exploration of their limits. This was particularly unexpected as from the name I must admit I was expecting to be listening to a folk band
Gish - Pilfer
(Dead Sea Liner 25)
if you're wondering who Gish is then so am I. A quick look at his myspace doesn't enlighten me in any particular way apart from I now am able to guess that the guitar is his instrument of choice and the source of many of the sounds to be heard on this release others include a variety of percussion instruments and a plethora of effects.. It's a fairly short affair clocking in at around 23 minutes but it packs quite a lot into it's runtime. Overlapping drones form the basis of Gish's oeuvre upon which he layers crackling distortion and fluttering abrasions. It's fast and very mobile and shows a real flair for creating involving soundworlds, especially on the former of the two tracks which is by far the more cleanly and clearly developed of the two.
Glowing Pixie & Ghoul Detail - split
(Dark Meadow Recordings)
Prolific Northampton label Dark Meadows is slowly becoming a force of nature within the dark ambient scene. The sheer volume of releases alone would make it a contender but it's the quality that matters and it's uniformly high. This release features one artist I have little experience of and one old friend.
Glowing Pixie open proceedings with a single long piece of slow build noise drone. It's a gruff and gravely affair that's really nicely assembled with a very, very nice rhythmic section midway that lifts the whole piece.
It's been far too long since the Ghoul graced these pages. For the early few years of WWR he was a regular fixture but of late his punishing work-rate has slowed considerably. On this recording his trademark full-frontal noise drone is tempered by a more, dare I say, sedate manner as over the course of each of his three contributions GD builds and holds a succession of ragged monoliths. I'd be lying if I said it was vintage Ghoul as I've always preferred him when he's in full take no prisoners mode and his music makes you want to throw your head back and yell 'FUCK!' at the sky, but even when, like here, he's on his best behaviour he's still eminently listenable.
Good Noise Bad Noise - Joist Hounds
(Earth Monkey Productions 001)
Two laptoppers, a violinist and a visualist (I think I made that last word up but I kinda like it so it's staying) who operate under the Good Noise Bad Noise name which invites lazy reviewers (cough) into the temptation of making two lists of which bits of the ep should be filed under which half of the name. Well if I was to do such a thing (I'm not going to - I'll admit I was tempted - but I'm not going to) I'm happy to say that the second column would be the much shorter. They do occasionally fall into the screeching cacophony trap but they rarely stay there for very long and they often arrive and leave from a plausible and worthwhile position. The music is dynamic and has an easy momentum and flow that removes this from the noise for noise sake ghetto into one that is far, far more interesting and worth further investigation especially if the work of the aforementioned visualist (I'm going to trademark that word) is featured more strongly.
Gravanzia - Doom To The Doom Men
Wonderfully silly set of Gong-isms from this outfit of London based stoners. The standard psyche-rock band set-up of geetars, bass, drums, synths and vocals along with some riff-tastic cosmic song-craft make this CD shaped bundle of ridiculousness a damn fine way to spend three quarters of an hour. I suspect their collective record collections stop somewhere around the 1975 mark because musically there is very little reference to any music made after this point. I'm so pleased that there are still bands out there doing this still sort of over-blown psychedelia and doing it really well too. Their histrionic krautrock (Amon Duul II is a reference point that springs to mind) is something I thought I'd never hear again outside of an obscurities download site or a set of re-issues from a long forgotten German label. If any of the above mentioned acts or adjectives are your particular bag (of weed) then this is definitely worth tracking down.
Grave in the Sky - Cutlery Hits China- English for the Hearing Impaired
(Heart & Crossbone HCB - 015)
Roaring like a snowbound steamtrain, this is industrial music from the heaviest of industries. Grave in the Sky take the metronomic riffing of Godflesh and add a healthy dose of Khanate and Boris style sludge before drenching everything in slop-buckets full of processed vocals and harsh digital noise. Straw Dogs shows a slight tendency to slip towards goth-pomp but essentially this is punishing and churning metal.
If this album was chewing-gum it would be tarmac flavour. If it was a razor it would be rusty. If it was the denouement of a who-dunnit it would be the butler, in the library, with a lead pipe, beating you over the head...again...and again...and again...and again.
The Green Chair - Occupied Estate
(Summersteps Records Handmade SUM-HM 005)
I have to admit I never thought I'd be reviewing a Fleetwood Mac song in WWR but I am and it's awful (by which I mean this version and not the original). I'm sorry but novelty, or 'ironic', cover versions make my skin crawl. It's a shame because positioned at track three this, for me, ruins the opening of what subsequently reveals itself to be a thoroughly enjoyable album of garage / psychedelic freakery. Over the rest of the album The Green Chair explore all manner of interesting places and instruments from the acoustic guitar and drone balladeering of 'Your Cheating Heart' to the spiky guitar shards of 'Wire Frame Devil' and the Throbbing Gristle synth-scape of 'Song for Byron'. I really hate that cover version but fortunately the rest are well worth checking out.
Grozny Penthouse - EP
(Muzzedia Verhead MV016)
I have absolutely zero info in front of me as to who or what Grozny Penthouse are or were. There isn't even a CD sleeve to poach some info from. What we get is three tracks of heavy, industrial, pulse and grind electronics. It's good but, as is always the case with these little cds, it's also way to short to be entirely satisfying. It's very much in the vein of 80's and 90's industrial music but stripped of all it's metal and techno fripperies until all that's left is the most minimalist of essentials. If that, admittedly vague, description appeals to you then really do seek this out cause you wont be disappointed.
Gushing Cloud - Beat Wings in Vain
(Intangible Cat CAT018)
The folks at Intangible Cat have been sending some interesting music my way for a little while now and this one is no exception although it is a little different to those others. What we have here is an altogether more melodic and decidedly psychedelic beast that the previous experimentalisms. With hints of krautrock, San Franciscan psyche and the crusty space dub excursions of folks such as Ozric Tentacles it makes for a fascinating listen as it wanders along its merry way . It's been a while since I've really delved into this type of thing although back in the early nineties when I was considerably more chemically assisted than I am now I loved me some trippy, bouncy music and this is bringing back some nice memories. It's really well done, has just the right balance of restless energy and swirly mesmerics and is filled with colour and wonder.
Gruuthaagy - Panonian Witchcraft
It's taken me 5 listens to even begin to get a handle on what is on offer here. Built upon layers of ominous drones Panonian Witchcraft dispenses with niceties like melody in favour of an eerie and oppressive ambience evocative of dark nights and long shadows. The music has a weightless quality that renders it difficult to focus on for extended periods of time making it perfect (dark) ambient music but also robbing it of some of it's impact. As with all Perineum releases though this is most definitely worth a listen.
Gushing Cloud - Prism Shelter
(Intangible Cat CAT-10)
Now this is pretty interesting. I wasn't sure what I was expecting after last months Dog Hallucination insanity from the same label but this certainly wasn't it. Gus Kumo's Gushing Clouds project mixes melodic electronica with psychedelic swirls, jazzy textures, trip hop beats, pop sensibilities, ambient drones, industrial rhythms, dub basslines and anything else he can conjure up from the depths of his sample hoard.
It's fabulous stuff. Gloriously chilled and warmly happy. A big musical hug.