Iamblichi - All Worlds
(Dirty Demos DirtyCDR 022)
German outfit / person (I know not which) with their first actual CD release (following on from two net releases) sees them exploring the worlds (or perhaps that should be 'whorls') of rolling, bubbling, scritching electronica that doesn't really seem to have a destination in mind but has a lot of fun getting there. It's like taking a tour around Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory, your ears slowly registering the sounds of the different, incomprehensible machines as they hum and throb through their tasks. I liked this. It’s the type of thing you don’t get to hear very often anymore which is a shame because it’s fun.
i AM esper - Glowing Valleys
(Dark Meadows DMR011)
‘Big’ is the first word that springs to mind as this album starts. Big guitars, big noises, big music. Hailing from New Brunswick, New Jersey, Justin Palmieri's i AM esper project offers up a slow burn cascade of guitar sound. Chiming almost-melodies falling onto heavy strummed distortion. Lots of sustain, delay & reverb allows the music to hover and revolve to show each aspect of itself in it's entirety.
It's a nice piece of work. Sonically it's not the most varied but there's a rich, forlorn vibe that Palmieri sustains throughout that goes quite some way to making this a very enjoyable listen.
IDX1274, I Died, Rotted Brain - Qualite Superieure
(Roil Noise RNOCDR074)
Business Card CDR
Teeny-weeny business card shaped cdr that sounds like a bird and then a cat being fed into the worlds biggest food processor. It's packaged with a rolling paper but at 4 minutes 20 seconds doesn't last long enough for you to either roll or smoke a spliff never mind both. It is a laugh though.
The Infant Cycle - The Sand Rays
(Diophantine Discs n=20)
A different sort of album from the predominantly drone loving crew at Diophantine as Jim DeJong's The Infant Cycle project is (at least in this instance) more interested in the endless vagaries of rhythm than in the infinite variations of tone yet he never loses site of the horizon-gazing timelessness of the best drone albums, which is no mean feat. His rhythmic oscillations are collected from a huge array of sources (as listed on the cd) such as vinyl run-out grooves, field recordings, skittering electronics and a host of others, over which DeJong has liberally scattered breathless, organic sounding instrumentation.
Much of the album sounds decayed and vaguely dilapidated. It's run-down griminess allowing it to achieve a sense of character that's often overlooked. It's lived-in homeliness is hugely addictive as is the verve and the dexterity with which the whole thing has been assembled into a massively compulsive whole.
The Infant Cycle - A Mysterious Disc
Jim DeJong's The Infant Cycle make a very welcome return to these here pages with a short but ever so sweet display of sputtering ambience. DeJong's particular muse is one of disjointed non-rhythms and fragmented melodies underscored with long tonal drones and washes.
The thing I like the most about his recordings is that he manages to make something with the potential to sound really rather cacophonous into something that sounds really rather serene.
The Infant Cycle - Plays Fender Bass Guitars and Birdcages of Unknown Origin
(the ceiling undiscs CEIL033)
My previous experiences of Jim DeJong's The Infant Cycle had been of music predominantly based around rhythm this time out however it's ambience that holds sway. The music on this EP is a swirly concurrence of reversed sound and tumbling tones that create a veritable kaleidoscope of colour. With a run time of barely 13 minutes it's a tricky little CD to catch a hold of, if you lose concentration for a moment then it's gone. It is however another intriguing insight into the music of this long-standing experimentalist and with a the press release mentioning that a full length album is in the works it certainly provides a tantalising glimpse into what is coming next.
The Infant Cycle - Left Ear Revolt (Mysterious Disco 2009-2012)
(the ceiling ceil035)
Aww man. It's been way, way, waaay too long since the music of The Infant Cycle graced these speakers. He's been featured in these pages a few times in the past and it's always a joy to have him back. Indeed the opening three tracks come from one of those previous visits ('Plays Fender Bass Guitars and Bird Cages of Unknown Origin').
As ever, it's the magnificent way in which he handles rhythm and pulse that gives DeJong's music it's unique character filling his compositions with jittering and carousing life. Married to these are an array of colourful and vibrant tones and drones which produce music that breathes and expands and grows as each track progresses and as the album unfolds.
The Infant Cycle - Drop Out Center
Jim is an always welcome visitor to WWR Manor with his jittery amphetamine psychosis take on experimental music. His is a soundworld of flickering dust motes of sound that dance around you whilst occasional shafts of light pierce the tumult and bring the world into stark relief before leaving only dazzling afterimages burned into your attention as the multitudinous swarm once more gathers to dance in the air leaving you happily trapped at their epicentre.
The Infant Cycle - Posthumousness Now
(The Ceiling CEIL036)
I've had a real soft spot for the music of Jim DeJong and his restless and jittery approach to composition. His music is filled with a constant sense of propulsion as he uses rhythms in ways which others have seemingly not yet noticed. Married to this is his grasp of the fundamentals of a damn fine drone that can both hover and also insinuate itself into the cracks in your attention span until it establishes itself at the absolute epicentre of your awareness. But at the core of his music is a powerfully industrialised ambience that permeates through and gives the whole an addictively gritty quality.
This tiny little EP is, it seems, Jim's final word and he has chosen this opportunity to ride off into the sunset. I wish you well Jim and hope that whatever project you point yourself at next brings you joy.
The Infinitus Ensemble - die verlonrenen Klange (1999-2004)
The Infinitus Ensemble - Scherbenschlaf (Sleep of Shards)
(Frequent Sea Records FSR-017)
The Infinitus Ensemble consists of CMP alumni Iri Li & Ralf Rabendorn who, whilst being familiar names to me as musician and label boss respectively are new to me in this context but with two albums from them to listen to that's something that'll soon be rectified.
First up is Die Verlorenen Klange which is a collection of unreleased tracks composed between 1999-2004. It's a pretty diverse bunch of tunes with the emphasis very much on the slightly disquieting end of the spectrum - it is very Coil-esque in parts. The duo make fine use of a variety of tools and instruments but inevitably the whole never really gels into a whole and many of the pieces feel more like sketches than fully realised entities.
Scherbenschlaf is an altogether more cohesive animal with what feels almost like a narrative running through it. Indeed in parts it reminds me quite strongly of latter day Residents in its use of effected voices and discomforting ambiences but again it's memories of Coil that are strongest. The pairs working strategies are unclear, as is much of the instrumentation but synthesizers and voice feature most strongly and provide the base for much of what's going on but it's time and talent that's gone into the mix that allows this album to achieve an identity of it's own and leave a definite favourable impression on the listener.
The Infrared Experience - White
(Contra Musik Produktion 22)
No info accompanies the two new releases from CMP and in the case of this on at least there are no clues to be gleaned from the sleeve either. What info is given however is to inform that the entirety of this album was created using electric guitar and assorted pedals.
The enigmatically named 'White' is a startlingly mobile set of gently psychedelic squalls. Layers of guitar meticulously overlaid to mostly good effect. Ironically it's when the guitars are at their most recognisable that this alum loses momentum. The switch between the more immersive longform drone pieces and the more 'traditionally' played guitar pieces is, especially early on in the album, quite jarring but becomes less so as the album continues, whether as a result of improved composition or as a result of acclimation by the listener I cannot say. What I can say though is that 'White' is absolutely worth investigating for fans of guitar-centric abstractions.
Inverz - Variations on Hold
(More Mars mm05)
Another quality release from this new Greek label. The one man band that makes up Inverz has compiled this release from recordings made over a two year period. This doesn't show which either shows a remarkable lack of progression on his part or a consistency of vision that is to be admired. I'm opting for the latter. The music here mixes the more plaintive end of post-rock with a nicely leftfield noise sensibility. For the most part Inverz creates blissful, otherworldly sunrise compositions perfect for listening to on bright days which makes a nice change from all the dark and doom-laden stuff I get sent. My favourite moments are those where he drapes his music in a shoegazery type fuzz. It's a nice idea that lifts the music which I think would probably be a little bland and over synthesised without it. There are a couple of tricks that are used slightly too often for comfort - the stumbling loop effect being the worst culprit - but on the whole this is a fine and enjoyable release.
Iri Li - Broken Summer
Iri Li is the recording name of one Irina Lindner who is also one of the people behind the intriguingly named ContraMusikProduktion (and no, I haven't forgotten the spaces). Contra...Music? What a bold assertion to make. I thoroughly approve but it's a hell of a title to live up to don't you think? My dictionary defines 'contra' as meaning 'opposite' or 'against' (it also defines it as a 'Nicaraguan counter revolutionary movement' but I think we can discount that one). So, 'opposite music productions' or 'against music productions'. Being a record label I would imagine the first of those two options is the more likely and after listening to this album I think it's also the most apropos. This is music with a decidedly 'opposite' mindset.
Broken Summer sees Iri Li taking a wide variety of 'traditional' instruments (voice, synth, violin, gong, theremin, piano and more), mixing these with some unidentified home-made instruments and then adding a variety of nicely sourced field-recordings to create a set of creepy and mind-bending compositions. It's obtuse, wilful, contrary, sad, whimsical, intense, wistful, bombastic and melancholic but what I like most about this album is it's all these things without ever forgetting that while it is great fun being 'contra-music' it is still the 'music ' aspect of that definition that drew us into this awkward little corner of the world in the first place and that keeps us searching (whether as musicians or listeners) for that elusive fix. 'Contra' is fine but without the 'music' part it can quickly degenerate into pointless navel-gazing or worthless flailing but that is never the case here. Iri Li has produced 12 separate pieces that combine to create one seamless whole.
Isolde - You're Alone in Red Riding Picture
(Penny Poppet pp002)
2 track 3"cd from the duo of Andrew Chalk and Robin Barnes. If this, the shortest of cds - a mere 10 minutes, feels like a taster for the album then it's only because, like me, you bought this one second and it was on the strength of the album (see review). 2 short drone and noise pieces that wrap themselves, briefly, around your heart before leaving you all too soon.
Isolde - On Waving and Drowning
(Penny Poppet pp004)
A duo featuring Andrew Chalk (who we love) and Robin Barnes (who we don't know but are now quite fond of) this, the third (i think) Isolde release, marries, in turn, abstract guitarscapes, noise and drones to create three very different but equally riveting pieces of music. The Isolde soundworld is one that is far noisier and more wilfully abstract than that of Chalk's solo albums (I've not heard any of his other collaborative releases so I cannot comment). It's episodic nature opens it up to a wider variety of emotional states than is maybe apparent otherwise. Opener, 'Junior and Infant at the Gate' is a fusion of guitar and other non-specific (or should that be non-specified) sounds that caress and scratch at your perceptions. Track 2, 'The Place Where I Left You', is an ear-popping exercise in building mountains out of noise but it's the drone masterclass of 'At Journey's End' that is the album's defining moment.
If I have a complaint with this album, and believe me I had to think long and hard to find one, then it's that I personally would have liked to hear the three differing soundscapes worked out over the course of an album each rather than as three facets of the one release. Am I being greedy? Am I nit-picking? Or, am I the eternal optimist? I'll let you decide but please do so while listening to this magnificent album.