Philippe Lamy - Drop Diary
(Mystery Sea MS72)
Mystery Sea is the elder of the two labels curated by Daniel Crokaert - the other being Unfathomless - and where it's younger sibling concerns itself with concepts and reflections on location this takes water as it's core concept.
I've no idea who Philippe Lamy is and as I'm writing this in a notebook (of the dead tree variety) whilst sat in a coffee shop with no wifi access that isn't going to change anytime soon. So, entirely focused on the music with no preconceptions except the knowledge that water is going to feature in there somewhere, what do we have. We have water. Well, a little. The drops implied in the title are very much present throughout in various forms and create some lovely pittering, pattering, blooping and tonking tonalities onto which Lamy has poured a variety of subtle soundscapes - some soft, some harsh, some sparse, some dense but rarely overt as on the whole this is a restrained and purposeful set that exudes a distinctly amorphous quality that made for an enjoyable experience.
La Pieuvre & Circum Grand Orchestra - Feldspath
(Circum-Disc CIDI 1301)
As the sum total of my French consists of being able to tell people my name, that I'm eleven years old and that I live in a town that I left about 20 years ago the opening dialogue is kinda lost on me. Much to my relief though music soon appears and I can stop looking confusedly at the CD player.
The two ensembles featured here (32 musicians in all) are brought together under the leadership of Olivier Benoit in order to realise his composition.
Now, with that many musicians, especially when you take into account that both ensembles consist primarily of improvisers, things could very easily turn into the type of cacophony that Viennese actionists have wet dreams about but Benoit runs a tight ship.
What we have is music that is very much within the remit of modern avant-garde classical composition although maybe with the atonality toned down a little and the rhythmic aspects emphasised often to a great effect - track 7 on disc one being a particular favourite.
The sheer range of music on display here is breathtaking. It's a full-blooded, fully-committed, intricate and intoxicatingly heady rush of sound that with only the occasional self-indulgent lapse into improv navel gazing and noodly sound salad, is a fascinating and engrossing listen throughout and a bold vision beautifully realised.
Disc 2, which goes by the name of 'Andesine / Bytownite' (the names of its two parts) is an immediately different beast. Opening with an Actual label style free jazz excursion topped with speech (in English this time) things are soon eclipsed by some phenomenal noise-rock skronk of stabbing horns, powering rhythms and scratchy electrics.
Into the second half and we're in a much more abstracted vibe full of angular passages and unexpected twists. Personally though 'avant' vocalising is something I cannot abide so there were parts here that did make me cringe a little although that soon stopped when everyone woke up for a blistering ending.
On the whole this was a corking listen throughout that was utterly compelling, absorbing and a brave and successful undertaking from all involved.
Larraskito Audio Dissection Unit - Exiled in Bilbao
(Dim Records dim023)
This CD documents the fruits of a day’s jam session between several familiar faces in the pages of WWR – Sindre Bjerga, Miguel Garcia, Jan Iversen, Can Deas – and a few strangers – Oier ia, Carlos Valverde, Steffan de Turck & Kakofunk.
If the photo inside is to be believed the octet gathered together around a large cluttered table and proceeded to make a pretty fine racket. There’s no point where all eight appear together and indeed two of them – Cam Deas & Kakofunk – only contribute to one track apiece.
What we have is a set of brutal(ish), hard-edged, freeform industrial jams that scrape and grind through the speakers chased by digital age bleeps and LED pulses. Organic sounds occasionally filter through the rubble but these only add to the sense of desolation carved out by the participants.
As harsh as the sounds are this is never going to be everyday listening but it’s got a compulsion to it and a cohesion that makes it a lot of fun to listen to.
Laube - Ausmerzen
Plain, white folded card sleeve. No image. Stamped black text. And, if I remember correctly, a tea bag somebody definitely sent me a teabag this month and I‘m fairly sure it was these cats). This German trio of Nils Lehnhauser (bass), Christian Drager (drums) & Eric Bauer (piano) have produced a wonderful set of minimal, melodic, ambient jazz. The instrumentation is sparse, the melodies free-falling and the mood tense yet underscored with a studied lethargy. I'm reminded, favourably, of Angelo Badalamenti's scores for Twin Peaks as Ausmerzen has that same dreamy quality to the music. It's a twilight album full of sleepy colours and vague shapes and for the most part it's really quite beautiful. I'll admit to being less than enamoured with the final track as the musicianship and musicality of the rest of the album is replaced with atonal, avant-garde crashes and bangs. It sounds like an Einsturzende out-take or a Z'ev composition and as such feels remarkably out-of-place here. In other circumstances I'd have probably enjoyed it but after the sublime beauty of the preceding tracks it is a disagreeable end to a sumptuous album.
Brian Lavelle - How To Construct a Time Machine
One of a number of albums available to download from Mr. Lavelle’s website. All are worth a listen but this one is the stand out. 5 tracks of guitar based drones that ever so slowly wind their way around your brain and squeeze. With Lavelle conjuring up tones that could heat a politicians heart this is probably the warmest sounding album I've heard in a long time. What we have here are three perfectly good drone pieces that frame two absolutely stunning drone pieces, 'Theory of the Machine' and 'Description of the Machine', both of which are utterly sublime, transcendant pieces of music that put me into orbit the first time I listened to them. I do have one or two quibbles however. None of the tracks feel linked in any way. The sudden and / or definite endings to each track bring the carefully crafted ambience crashing down around you and as such there's no feeling of cohesion between the 5 tracks leaving you feeling as though you're not listening to a complete album. Incidentally I recommended this album to a friend and he said exactly the same thing. Leaving your audience wanting more is one thing, leaving them unsatisfied is quite another. At this point though I have to say that what makes these, to be honest, quite minor faults worth pointing out is that the music on the album is so damn good that it makes the problems all the more profound. Don't let my concerns stop you from getting this though, it is really rather wonderful.
Brian Lavelle - Just A Song At Twilight
First release on Lavelle's own Dust, Unsettled label is a series of slowly unfolding drone and tone pieces. His given instructions that the cd should be listened to quietly at twilight go along with my assumption that this is very much ambient music in the strict Eno sense of the word, music that is as interesting as it is ignorable (Is that a real word? I'm sure you know what I mean by it). Should you choose to focus on the music there is lots to be found within it but equally it can happily fade away into the background. Working from what sounds like an exclusively digital pallete, which surprised me given the trees and water imagery of the booklet, Lavelle's music is both measured and sedate, a little too much so for my taste. There are moments here (track 2 especially) where I could believe I'm listening to a 'New Age' meditation album. A shame as I have several of Lavelle's previous albums and this is never a factor and indeed it isn't on track three. Equally, there are moments here where Lavelle's multilayered sounds start to infiltrate every corner of your brain. My recommendation (for what it's worth) still lies with his astounding 'How to Construct a Time Machine' release from a few years back (see review on this page). This one, for my tastes at least, is just a little too nice.
Brian Lavelle - Alessandri's Dream
Produced in a private edition of just 15 copies you've got about as much chance of getting your hands on a copy of this fabulous little EP as I have of becoming pope. Lavelle has long been a prime mover in this little corner of the musical universe we call home and over the years has amassed a substantial discography. Alessandri's Dream is his trribute to Italian surrealist Lorenzo Alessandri and consists of a 17 minute isolationist drone that billows from the speakers in a fog of translucent colours. For most of it's existence it is content to hover and waft around the room but in it's dying moments it announces it's imminent demise with a short and understated fanfare of tones.
Beautiful and recommended.
Brian Lavelle - The Petrified Forest
(Taalem alm 51)
There are two Brian Lavelles. There's the Brian Lavelle that creates mature and mannered ambient compositions that slowly reveal themselves like a flower unfolding to greet the sun. Then there's the Brian Lavelle that creates head mangling, massively psychedelic, cosmic drones. I like the first Lavelle but his music has a tendency to become just a little too nice for my palette. I love the second Lavelle! When he fires that tone at you there's no escape. You're along for the ride and the ride is always good.
Well, I'm happy to report that this 2 track, 20 minute set is definitely from the latter and it's cracking stuff. The amorphous bloops and swoops mean it's just sci-fi sounding enough to make my inner geek giggle with delight and it's soaring fluid composition is 'out there' enough to make my outer space-cadet groan with psychedelic ecstasy.
A fine recording from an artist working at the top of his game.
Brian Lavelle - Supernaturalist
(EE Tapes EE12)
This is fab. It's mellow, immersive and really rather wonderful.
I don't have a great deal to say cause every time I try to listen to it, it slips away.
Brian Lavelle - Ustrina
At almost 70 minutes in length Ustrina from Scots dronist Lavelle is a significant investment of time and focus on both the part of the composer and the listener. Lavelle operates predominantly in the realms of warm and slightly fuzzy drone music. Narcotic tones and washes that gently shroud the audience with a vaguely clammy sense of unease. You've got to admit that's an enticing prospect especially as Lavelle is very, and I do mean very, accomplished at this sort of thing. Like a darker version of Chalk & Heeman's Mirror project, Ustrina is one of the best things I've heard from this side of Lavelle (the other side specialises in superbly forceful psychedelic cosmic-drone) and should be sort out without delay.
Brian Lavelle - Fallen Are The Domes Of Green Amber
(Diophantine Discs n=10)
Brian Lavelle’s music is a perennial and much loved feature of Wonderful Wooden Reasons. His sublime drones and madly cosmic excursions have been a fixture in the zine since I started writing it. He himself has been recording electronic music for some 20 odd years now and the music that makes up ‘Fallen...’ is culled from recordings made waaaaay back in July 1991 and so, is for me at least, a fascinating insight into his formative music.
As you can imagine the clarity of the sounds aren’t quite up to Brian’s usual standard and are a little murky sounding (particularly on track 2) but his innate grasp of composition and pace are as obvious as ever.
The album is split into 2 unequal parts. The first, and shorter, of the two demonstrates very nicely the more gentle and introspective side of Lavelle’s music. It’s divinely constructed, gently unfolding and sumptuously immersing.
The second and considerably longer track is the more extrovert. Over it’s hour long runtime Lavelle explores a variety of more insistent atmospheres. It’s hard to keep a track interesting for that length of time but on the whole he manages it through gentle evolution of his sounds. The only thing marring it is the aforementioned muddiness and with that exception it is another fine addition to an already impressive discography.
Brian Lavelle - Magdalena
(Diophantine Discs n=21)
I'm not sure why but I was expecting this beautiful looking new green vinyl LP from Brian to be a more overtly ambient affair. I really have no clue why I thought that. Nothing has been said or implied that that would be the case and it most certainly isn't.
Side one opens with a grating post-industrial, rasping tonality that gently dissipates into cascading tones over a hissing base.
Side two is where the album really comes to life for me as it sounds like nothing other than the most warped of nightmare circuses. It's swirling sonorities and twitchy edginess giving the whole a delightfully 'wrong' character that leaves one feeling deliciously unkempt.
This darkly psychedelic side is an aspect of Lavelle I'd not been aware of until now and one I'd very much like to hear more of.
Brian Lavelle - Lambent
(Sonic Oyster Records)
Slippy, slidey, slithery wonderfulness. Music that squirms, worms, wanders and wonders. Sounds that swoop, sway, swish and slide. Auras that warm, wash, writhe and wrinkle. Sounds that tickle, tantalise, tangle and tease.
Be honest! What more could you want out of life!
Tom Lawrence - Water Beetles of Pollardstown Fen
(Gruenrekorder Gruen 087)
Gruenrekorder continue their run of outstanding releases with this set of recordings made by Lawrence of the underwater denizens of Pollardstown Fen outside of Kildare in Ireland.
The recordings are unadorned and, to a great extent, unprocessed with only sounds below the levels of human hearing brought up into our range. The array of sounds on display is simply astounding. At times it's hard to credit that such a beautiful cacophony is natural. One forgets what is playing as dada-esque sound collages reminiscent of NWW or AMM tumble past. The complexity and the richness of the totality of the sounds lends it a compositional flavour that is then made all the stronger when one snaps back to reality and fully remembers what is playing.
I've had this on repeat for the best part of two days now and am still finding depths and nuances I'd previously missed. Fantastic album on a fantastic label.
Josh Lay - Poison Drinker
(Sentient Recognition Archive SRA003)
You're guess is as good as mine (perhaps better) as to who Josh Lay is. I'm guessing he's an ex-Serbian Olympic boxing coach with a wooden leg, a dog called Ovaltine and a complete run of 1950's Wonder Woman comics that he reads to the pigeons in the park every other Thursday. I don't know how close to the mark I am there (pretty close I think) but what I do know is that he does make a damn fine noise. On Poison Drinker he treats us to 2 tracks (one clocking in at a shade over 16 minutes, the other a shade under 10 minutes) of noise drone wonderfulness. The longer of the two is bristling with mechanical menace whilst the shorter drips with digital trepidation. Both are excellent and I really wish the album was longer.
Stephane Leonard - Lykkelig Dyr
(Heilskabaal + Naivsuper)
3 years in the preparation, this new album from Berlin based musician / artist Stephane Leonard makes some interesting alchemy.
On reading the press release you'd be forgiven for expecting a cornucopia of exotic aural snapshots from the varied locations and happenings that Leonard recorded for use on this project. Not so as Lykkelig Dyr reveals itself to be a much more conventional concoction. Don't get me wrong this is still a psychedelic soundclash albeit one operating within distinctly musical boundaries, the most obvious being Glitch.
Like much of the best music to emerge from that scene Leonard's rhythmical manage to just stay on the obtuse side of being both melodic and rhythmic. These clusters of tones and bleeps spattering themselves across a hard backdrop of processed sounds. It's the composition that brings the whole to life though. Slightly cold and unemotional Leonard's sound palette may be but in his hands they are mixed into a sinuously relentless concoction capable of transmuting these base elements into pure (digital) gold.
Les Libriums Du Désir - Nut System
(Samarkande Records DSR001)
This is a collection of musical compositions by Charles Belanger accompanied
by the spoken texts of Marcel Renaud and Xavier-Claude Mantais. The music is often baffling in it's overflowing complexities. Juxtaposing blaring atonalities with cascading swirls of melody, drone and noise. It's really quite fab. The words are for me the less successful aspect simply because I don't understand French. The voices of the two men aren't interesting enough to carry the pieces on the language's innate musicality and I've no idea if the tales are worth the telling. But, the music has always been my thing and this is very much worth a listen even with the language barrier.
Les 7 Mondes - free ep
London based French duo Les 7 Mondes return with this free to download (but please don't ask me to do yours as I probably won't) ep of keyboard and guitar mash-ups. L7M are truly one of a kind. Maxx has told me in the past of the difficulties L7M have getting reviewed and I can see why as they make music that is hugely difficult to categorise. Dance music you'd be hard pressed to dance to mixed with psychedelic music you probably wouldn't want to trip to. Think Autechre meets early 90's techno-hippies System 7 but much, much noisier. Triumphant yet jittery, this ep makes me feel like I'm listening to music composed for the 1970's Russian space program except it's being played at the wrong speed and everythings gotten a bit addled and that my friends is a very good thing.
John Huw Lewis - Moons of Neptune: Volume One
Yes I'm well aware that I don't review download releases but Huw is the partner of a good friend of mine and I was kindly given a copy of this rather lovely album on disc.
Huw is obviously a Brian Eno fan as his influence can be heard throughout with the album displaying itself as a set of gentle rolling ambient tone pieces produced exclusively using guitar and pedals. His palette is very well represented by the blue moon of the cover image as the sounds have a definite cerulean hue and a tonal quality that seems to bleed spaciousness and reflects the grandeur of it's nominative subject matter.
Whilst I think it could maybe benefit from the addition of a little more variation in texture as there is an obvious commonality of sounds between tracks being as they share the same sound source. This is a qualm I have expressed before with albums of this nature and is based purely on subjective preference but something that isn't is that track 5 ends with a very jarring and un-ambient jolt.
I very much enjoyed this. The restraint and the control Huw displays throughout means the 'Moons of Neptune ' are a very nice place to spend some time.
John Huw Lewis - Moons of Neptune vol.2
CDR & download
This is the second visit from Huw to these pages and there'll be a few more as he popped round my house with a small stack of his releases which I'll drip feed to you all over the coming issues.
This one is his thematic follow up to the album I featured here at the end of 2012. Personally I'm not into concepts or themes - I think they generally have meaning only to the creator - it's the music I'm interested in.
This one does indeed continue on where the other left off; gentle tonalities billowing like sheets on a summer breeze. Slowly morphing tones that engage in mini crescendos imitating the briefest of lives before going the way of all things and allowing room for the next.
I like Huw's gentle sort of ambience. It's not something that's massively in vogue at the moment or at least not amongst those who submit music Wonderful Wooden Reasons. It's clean and bright and has a hazy lightness to it that is very refreshing.
I think I've probably too much vinegar in my veins to listen to music this nice all the time but right at this moment I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
Lid Emba - Reason Isn't Radar
Atlanta based drummer Sean Moore presents a selection of digital recordings of loops, beats, samples and melodies that take the notion of electronic music and strips it to its most basic of components. All pretence is removed and what is left is a twitchy, glitchy, fun and funky exploration of the outer edges of beat driven sounds. There is an underlying groove here that belies the complexities of the rhythms used which, while I'm not entirely sure makes it danceable, certainly touches that part of your soul that makes you want to bounce along. Think Autechre with a smile on it's face and a song in it's heart. Recommended.
Lid Emba & BobCrane - We Substitute Radiance
(Stickfigure Records stick44CD)
The last time we encountered Sean Moore's Lid Emba project he was making like "Autechre with a smile on it's face and a song in it's heart". The addition of Ryan Huber (who is BobCrane (and also Vopat and Olekranon - none of which I'd encountered previously)) to this project has seen a slight stylistic diversion towards more abstracted and less euphoric territories with the ambience now balanced on an uneasy precipice. Rhythm is still very much the order of the day with much of the album based on a series of complex and bewildering beats upon which the two have constructed a swirling kaleidoscope of electronica. Disjointed and unsettled the music offers little in the way of comfort, it simply goes its own way regardless of whether you're along for the ride or not. Occasionally things get a little bogged down in some 80's-esque cod-industrial synth dreariness (parts of Stampeder) but it isn't long before the quality of the musicians at work re-asserts itself and things are back on track. The drone of album closer 'Flying Undead Overhead' being a particular highlight.
'We Substitute Radiance' isn't as much 'fun' as previous Lid Emba but it's every bit as good.
Lid Emba - Terminal Muse: Yellow
(Stickfigure Records stick056cd)
A very welcome return for Sean Moore and his Lid Emba project after a period of illness - glad you're well again Sean.
Sean's thankfully non-terminal muse likes her music pretty noisy but with a melodic core. It's a forceful assemblage of synth drenched industrialised psychedelia that's at it's best when firing itself into the stratosphere via the most convoluted (and interesting) ways possible. I'm less taken by the more traditionally structured and musicianly progish freakout of the final track bu that's just a matter of preference and on the whole this is another very entertaining release from Mr. Moore.
Lietterschpich - I Cum Blood in the Think Tank!!!!!!!!
(Heart & Crossbone HCB - 013)
This is the second seedee I've reviewed on the heartily recommended Heart & Crossbone label (see Grave in the Sky) and it's a another absolute corker. Lietterschpich are a rampaging, doom laden noise monster of a collective dedicated to seriously fucking with your ears, mood and mind. This 6 person outfit have taken the sludge metal format and drenched it in a shrieking, grinding, farting cacophonic apocalypse of noise held together by a real, honest to goodness, thumping drum kit. There are actual songs buried inside this morass and that's the ace up Lietterschpich's sleeve. Too many bedroom noisemongers are content to crank everything up to 11 and wail away (which is fine up to a point) but here we see the true glory of noise as it's shaped, focused, aimed and fired with a distinct intent. A truly fabulous listen and easily the best noise album I've heard in a very long time.
Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain
You always knew it was there. Lurking in the background. Just waiting for the opportunity to emerge from the shadows and say 'Hi! Remember me? I'm your Slayer album.'. You relent and on it goes. That couple of seconds pass as the needle makes it's way along the run in groove and then it.....all.....comes.....back.
LB know about this. LB know the feeling and LB have set about recreating it as only they can. After three albums the bass has finally arrived on a LB album. The octave pedal is kept perfectly in check and now it's the bottom end of the bass that powers the songs. 12 tracks of raging glory. Relentless, over-powering, pumelling, breath-taking joy! Y0u never know where it's going next and it doesn't matter because where it does go is always perfect. They even indulge in some melody of all things on 'MohaWK windmill'. Awesome! Quite simply, awesome!
Andrew Liles - In My Father's House Are Many Mansions
(Fourth Dimension FDCD68)
I'm a recent convert to the world of Andrew Liles. His name had been hovering around the edge of my attention for a little while but as with a lot of these people it's difficuilt to start listening because much of their music is either out of print or there's just so much of it you have no idea where to start. I've a couple of Andrew Liles releases, both of which have been reviewed in ECReviews and this remix album was too good an opportunity to miss. Essentially what we have here is a big chunk of my record collection remixing its newest member. It should be the perfect stepping on point but unfortunately it's bit of a non event.
There's nothing essentially wrong with this album. Some of the contributors (Jonathan Coleclough, Colin Potter, Aaron Moore, Darren Tate) are on top form, others are still very listenable (Paul Bradley, Aranos, Irr. App (Ext), VidnaObmana,) but the rest vary between okay and oh dear. Neither Ruse nor Band of Pain are able to follow Jonathan Coleclough's translucient drone. I've heard The Hafler Trio do similar but better a couple of dozen times and Nurse With Wound phones in his dull and uninspired contribution.
The good thing about these sort of releases though is that you'll probably disagree with me utterly and love the ones i didn't. On the whole it's an ok album but it did leave me with the slight feeling that I'd have rather spent my time listening to each artist (including Mr. Liles) doing their own thing.
Dale Lloyd - Akasha_For Record
(Elevator Bath eeaoa028)
LP - Picture Disc
One of 4 beautiful picture discs released by Elevator Bath Dale Lloyd's Akasha_for Record is a striking, insular piece littered with sonic debris.
Lloyd, who also runs the and/OAR label is an accomplished sonic architect in his own right, something which is certainly evident here. Very much an album of two halves Lloyd here shows two distinct sides to his compositional nature. Side one is a lush and fecund panorama of opaque crystalline tones slowly angling themselves to best display their many facets. Side two is a more overtly strident experience, one filled with hissing dissonance, nebulous drones and jarring tonal changes. The two sides compliment each other perfectly with a coherence of vision and sound that is often neglected.
A_fR is a fairly uncompromising listen that rewards close and deliberate listening that will reveal hidden depths (particularly on side two) and immerse you in a deeper and more profound listening experience than is often, unfortunately, the case.
Lonesome Jonesome - The Peeper and the Chin Chin
(2Casual Recordings 2cas004)
A nifty piece of bedroom folk picking from Derby from the enigmatically named Lonesome Jonesome. 10 acoustic (guitar) instrumentals (plus occasional other instruments) that are tapping into some sort of primal melody that doesn't really feel beholden to any particular genre. There is a freshness to The Peeper and the Chin Chin that is hard to resist. The tracks tend to be a bit on the short side (averaging out at around 1 minute 40 seconds), sometimes maybe too short which leaves them feeling a little like sketches rather than the finished article but even then they are delightful to hear. Recommended.
Long Search For Pegasus - Beyond the Bone Fields
(Red Brick Chimney #3)
For the first 4 tracks at least this is the Ennio Morricone soundtrack to the Sergio Leone movie that neither of them ever made. Widescreen, cinematic music that does, in places, get a little too pompous and overblown for it's own good but is generally pretty good. The middle of the album sees a move towards a more dark ambient territory and it's a place LSFP obviously feel at home because this is cracking stuff. Drawn out tones and random noises allow the album to move away from soundtracking whilst still retaining the cinematic scope of the earlier tunes.
The penultimate track (Dolphins) sees us back in soundtrack territory with what is very reminiscent of the scores John Carpenter did for his movies in the 80's - think keyboards and lots of them. Staying on an eighties horror theme the album ends with it's longest track, 'The Hills Are Alive', but this turns out to be a rather uninspired (and overly long) keyboard workout that lacks the charm of the rest of this eminently listenable album.
Francisco Lopez - Untitled #188
(Con-V CNVCD 001)
A long and rolling soundscape from Madrid’s Francisco Lopez that mixes and processes field recordings taken in Montreal by himself and others. It moves at a snails pace and at 71 minutes it's a punishingly long listen. I found my attention wandering quite considerably, so much so I began to wonder if it was deliberate. The protracted, almost, silences that pepper the album seem purposefully placed to test ones attentiveness. Which is something that became increasingly frustrating as the album wore on. Much of this is too vague for either my old speakers or my older ears. When it is audible however it’s rollicking good fun and his sound-palette is second to none but the tendency to continually return to silence kept pulling me away from the music and drove me up the wall. For me this has it’s moments (the opening few minutes are astounding) but overall I felt it was in need of some quite brutal pruning.
Francisco Lopez - Machines
(Elevator Bath eeaoa030)
One of two releases by Lopez to reach my ears this month Machines is, as the name implies, a thematic set of 4 tracks (2 per disc) exploring the potential of machine derived sound - clocks, elevators and various factory and laboratory derived sounds. Unusually for Lopez silence plays only a small part in a set of recordings that fully and unremittingly explore the range of sounds available to him through each source.
I'm not the worlds biggest fan of pure concrete music. I find it to be a tad too unremitting to listen to often and indeed that is the case, at least in part, here. Lopez has assembled an often claustrophobic and occasionally bleak sonic environment of industrial (music) sound-collage that is contrasted by the subtlety and surety of his compositions as he crafts his sources into rhythmic dystopias.
If you don't already know Lopez's work then this would be an unlikely, or rather an atypical, place to start but it would give a fine insight into the level of control and verve he displays in his compositions. For those of you who are already fans then this is something that probably (definitely) should be sought out as apart from being beautifully presented it's also really rather good.
Francisco Lopez - Untitled #228
(Ini Itu #0903)
4th vinyl release from this great new label and this time out featuring one of the premier sound artists currently active. Lopez oeuvre is one of intensive manipulation of concrete sounds generally those of the natural world although he isn't averse to the occasional foray towards those made by people.
Using recordings collected in Indonesia by Blindhaed (the folks behind Ini Itu) this release has two distinct halves (as you'd expect from an LP I suppose). Side one is a noisy assemblage of street noise and announcements recombined and recontextualised to create a narrative all of it's own. It takes on a new character becoming the soundtrack to the post-modern metropolis. A veritable riot of sound, information, instruction and seduction. The only thing missing is the smell.
Side two is a much subtler animal. The press release notes it as being 'a spectral take on gamelan' which seems a fair summary. The swooping metallic drone certainly has a ringing bell quality, it's the sound of what's left of the music after it's initial purpose has been realised.
I think for me the sheer dynamism of side one is the albums pinnacle. It makes for fabulously compulsive listening. Side two is a lovely piece of edgy drone music and at any other time I would be singing it's praises to the world because it's marvellous but in this instance I simply would have liked to have heard more of the type of composition that marks the former side.
Another excellent Ini Itu release to be sought out post haste.
Francisco Lopez - Fango de Euripteridos
A very different and very noisy composition marks Francisco Lopez' return to these pages. This piece (the title translates as 'Mud of Eurypterids') is a re-edit of a piece originally recorded in 1990 and it kinda shows. This is a brutal and uncompromising piece of industrial pound and grind - and indeed is very good industrial pound and grind - but Lopez has developed and refined his music over the intervening 21 years into a very different animal. There is little in the way of subtlety here but then again it's nice to escape from subtlety on occasion and just give in to some deep seated primitive instincts and in that case this will do nicely.
Francisco Lopez - Hypogeion
(Mantricum Records mantricum022)
You always know you're in for a strange trip when a Francisco Lopez recording starts it's journey and this is no exception. I'm listening to a CDR promo of a cassette release that'll feature about 19 minutes of music per side.
The first side has a distinctly metaphysical flavour. Right from the off it feels purposefully, other. It's sinuous and seductive in a unwholesomely bleak sort of way. Vaguely dirty and queasy.
Side two is a more subtle animal. It maintains the subterranean aesthetic of it's predecessors but it's scope is wider and there are glimpses of light erratically splayed across the horizon. Album closer 'A Leptotyphlinae seeks for food' is filled with clattering rhythms and insidious invocations that drive one to repeatedly return, wide-eyed and mesmerised into it's embrace.
This final track alone is worth the entry price - it's utterly fabulous - but in conjunction with the rest of the music on display here this release is un-missable.
Francisco Lopez & Carlos Villena - split
(Mantricum Records mantricum 023)
There'll be a few of these split Mantricum split cassettes appearing in these pages over the next couple of issues. This one pairs label honcho Villena with the inimitable Francisco Lopez.
Lopez opens the proceedings with a luscious set derived from field recordings sourced in Queensland, Australia in 2009. There's an arc to the track that moves from silence interspersed with occasional birdcalls through a consonance of natural sounds, the origin of which I could not even begin to derive, before once more descending into silence.
Villena's half of the album continues in a similar vein with a set of field recordings sourced in France and Spain in late 2010. There's a slightly more 'assembled' feel to this one but that's something I prefer; I like to feel the hand of the composer on a recording. For me a composition is often more satisfying than a pure unadulterated field recording. The joy of the sounds of nature for me lies in situ. Sat here in my scruffy little study at quarter past ten at night it is the sound of the composers art that most interests me.
A nice collection that is well worth tracking down.
Lost Harbours - Hymns & Ghosts
(Liminal Noise Tapes LN004)
Lost Harbours are a psyche-folk duo from Southend-on-Sea featuring Richard Thompson on guitar, bowed bass, vocals, percussion, piano & organ and Emma Reed on clarinet, flute & percussion; which I'm sure you'll agree is quite a list.
There's not a lot of folk in evidence on the album's opening track, 'Hymns & Ghosts pt. 1', with it's domineering heavy drone and low flying vocals. It's sister track, 'Hymns & Ghosts pt. 2', which closes the album again pairs up drone and voice but comes with the addition of extra floaty vocals courtesy of Comus' Bobbie Watson.
The 4 tracks lying between these bookends are probably more in keeping with the genre which, I have to admit, isn't somewhere I visit too very often and so have rudimentary, at best, knowledge of. They are made up of gently trippy melodies interwoven with elongated vocal passages and occasional lyrics.
As I said, genre-wise this isn't one of my regular haunts but it is one I tend to enjoy when I do and I did.
Lost Harbours - Into the Failing Light
(Liminal Noise Tapes LN009)
Lost Harbours first came to my attention a couple of years ago with their Hymns and Ghosts album. It was a very nice slice of dronelicious dark-ambient folkery which the duo - Richard Thompson: guitar, vocals, bowed guitar, piano, samples and electronics & Emma Reed: flute, clarinet and violin - continue to develop on this new album.
The dark, brooding, building intensity and power of the opening of 'Into the Failing Light' belies the fragile cracked beauty of the music that lies at it's heart. It moves from what feels like a Coil-esque ritualistic gathering of energy, a summoning into an achingly poignant and beautiful lament for the lost day that equally takes comfort in the coming embrace of the dark. It's does all this in ways that are never twee, never expected and always delightful. It is, quite simply, a beautiful piece of work.
Eric Lunde - A World of Hurt in the Kingdom of God
(Heart & Crossbone HCB035)
Lunde is an American musician / artist / writer with an impressive discography dating back some 20 years and his music shows the scope of time he's had to refine his style.
Noise music isn't something that's been particularly my thing for quite some time now. Every now and again though something comes along that's particularly well made (and this is one of those) and displays a variety of pace, texture, intensity and style (and this is one of those too) and reminds me of why I liked it so much in the first place.