Adam Pacione - dobranc
(Elevator Bath eeaoa029)
Picture Disc LP
Of the set of 4 picture disc LPs kindly sent by Elevator Bath (thank you Colin) this one by Adam Pacione is the enigma as I'm familiar with his name but not his music. It's always an intriguing prospect to finally get to hear the music of someone you know of only through other peoples writings.
Here his music is a sea of soft focussed colour and temperature. Side one opens in a gentle swathe of sumptuous grey hues before slowly building to a tempestuous and really quite cathartic conclusion. Side two on the other hand is as calm and lethargic as a high-summer millpond. It's slowly morphing colours a shimmering haze morphing ones perceptions.
I'll be brutally honest and say that it isn't anything that you haven't heard before but it is still rather sublime.
All four of these Elevator Bath picture discs are both beautiful to see and to hear and you'd be doing yourself and them a disservice if you overlooked any of them.
Terje Paulsen - Septober
This inaugural release on Q-Tone features the caustic soundscapes conjured by one Terje Paulsen. His mix of acoustic instrumentation and dense atmospherics makes for nail-biting listening as he weaves a tapestry of trepidation and discomfort in which to enfold the listener. The instrumentation is amorphous and the sounds are warm, although warm in a deep, dank, dark cellar kind of way which can never be a bad thing.
I'm struggling to write about this album because it's power isn't in it's boldness or it's grandeur but in the ease in which Paulsen generates a mood and then holds you immersed in it for the duration. Heartily recommended.
Terje Paulsen - Landform
Now unfortunately sold out is this micro-release micro-cdr album by Norwegian composer Paulsen but luckily for y’all the very kind Mr. Paulsen has made it available as an mp3 release via rainmusic.free.fr/. This really is something you should all be very happy about as it really is a damn fine slice of drone music. Paulsen has a good ear for a mix and Landform is soft and sensual without being cloying or over-produced. He has avoided the dark ambient pitfall and instead concerned himself with making amorphous music that is worth listening to repeatedly.
Terje Paulsen - Horisont
(Mystery Sea MS58)
Terje has been gifting us all with increasingly beautiful music for a while now and several of these have been praised in these pages. Each of his releases are another step beyond and by now he is far beyond indeed. This one for Belgium's ever wonderful Mystery Sea label sees him weaving a tapestry of tones around an aquatic motif of gurgling field recordings. His tones are in turn restful, quizzical and deeply unsettling as the narrative of his piece slowly unfurls and reveals itself.
It's beautiful. Buy it.
Terje Paulsen - Coastline
(Mystery Sea MS62)
Norwegian composer Terje Paulsen is one the perennial favourites here at WWR. He has a bleakly immersive musical outlook that I find hugely pleasurable. This in itself is unusual as I generally hold a preference for more open forms of drone music but there's just something in Terje's music that grabs me every time.
Coastline has a nicely organic feel to the majority of it's constituent sounds with it's core guttural rumble augmented by sudden bell peals that roll through the shadows. There's not a great deal of confluence and change within and between tracks as here Terje seems to have found a vibe he likes and has ridden it for as long and as far as possible. I don't necessarily think that's a problem either as it's a vibe I like too and what he's done with and to it suits it very well indeed. As an album it feels complete and fulfilling and never lacking.
A thoroughly enjoyable excursion in the company of an always recommended purveyor of the darker sides of drone.
Paxit - Left Eye Twitch
(RZR vs Paxit 001)
Paxit (which translates as 'tin can') are an ensemble based in Israel who exist in the hinterlands of experimental music liberally splicing a huge variety of genres, instruments, found sounds, catcalls, jeers and monologues with their own unique and enthralling music. One of the main drawbacks of music of this 'type' (if you'll excuse the rather crass wording) can be that often individual tracks, particularly the shorter ones, can come off as being more like sketches than complete 'songs' (another crass description - I really do apologise). Paxit successfully avoid this pitfall rarely allowing their abstractions to overpower the cohesion of this fine and recommended album.
Perfect Blue / The Bordellos - A Gift of Sunshine
(Burning Emptiness BE#30 single series three)
The Bordellos are whole-heartedly rooted in the tradition of quirky British pop a la Syd Barret or The Fall. There's tape hiss all over it, the vocals are in a tuning of their very own and the musicianship is...well...how can i put this...unique. It's the type of thing John Peel (RIP) would have gone ape over and what can I say...I really like it. Pop music as it ought to sound but generally doesn't.
Perfect Blue on the other hand create nimble soundscapes. Feedback loops play tag around my headphones whilst ambient washes are powered along relentlessly by metronomic drumlines. It's in absolute contrast to The Bordellos yet it works sublimely. Recommended for both bands.
Jean-Herve Peron & Andrew Liles - Fini!
It doesn't take a genius to infer from the name of this zine that it's writer is something of a Faust fan (it's a line from the track Meadow Meal on the first Faust album). I'm besotted by the music these fellas make (in whatever incarnation) and Fini! is no exception.
Very much in the Faustian spirit this is a tangled morass of sounds and ideas that works really rather well. We even get to hear (on track 9) the side of Peron that is rarely seen these days, that of the acoustic troubadour as he slowly weaves his guitar and voice (and whistle) around a happy little ballad. Occasionally the album drifts into fully abstracted experimental territories but this is really to be expected of both participants and their wonderfully obtuse sensibilities but at all points you feel that they are working to a cohesive vision that they never once loose sight of. If only everything in life was this good.
Phantom West - Aleph Null
Not really my cup of tea this but then again neither is tea - foul tasting concoction give me coffee any day. Phantom West's Timothy Clark produces music that exists in that grey area between (euro)industrial, synth-pop and rock populated by acts such as Depeche Mode and if you're a fan of that band then you'll probably love this. Personally I'm not - at all - but this is well made, well played and, like I said, if DM float your boat, well worth checking out.
Phantom Heron Seas - Spectral Dishwater
(Muzzedia Verhead MV013)
I've featured quite a few releases on the very fine Dead Sea Liner label over the years but this is my first exposure (I think) to the music produced by label head Allan Upton. His tonal ambient work, as exhibited here, is strikingly entrancing, full of swells of colour and stuttering atmospherics. It has a nicely creepy undercurrent that is slightly undercut by the short track lengths leaving one slightly adrift until the next track takes hold and pulls you along in it's wake.
It is a little disjointed in parts and maybe certain aspects should have been given longer to evolve and have been explored more deeply but 'Spectral Dishwater' (which really is a woeful title) is full of charm and warmth and is an enjoyable listen.
Phantom Heron Seas - The Unkindness of Ravens
(Dead Sea Liner 27)
I'm writing this whilst otherwise engaged (grading essays in case you're curious) - who says only women can multi-task - so I'm unable to look up the info but if memory serves PHS is Dead Sea Liner label head Allan Upton. His music here is a scrumptiously round affair that hangs in the air somewhere roughly halfway between your speakers and your ears. His drones are augmented by metallic rasps and drags that colour the soundworld with ferric cadences and an oxidised veneer. It's really rather wonderful but due to the nature of the format it's also frustratingly short but as it's the only thing on offer then I'll take it gladly.
Dave Phillips - The Hermeneutics of Fear of God
There was a time, back around '87 - '89, where the longest song I was listening to probably clocked in at around 1 minute in length and sounded like someone being loudly sick. The majority of my ear-space was taken up by bands such as Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death, Heresy, Chaos UK, and Amebix amongst others. On this solo cut Dave Phillips of Fear of God has sent me spiralling back to those cider and weed fuelled days with this relentless, grinding cacophony of great old school grindcore. There are elements of all the above mentioned bands here (especially Amebix) but what this made me think of more was that this is what Godflesh would have sounded like if Justin Broadrick had retained his love of speed when he left Napalm Death. Fast, short, crusty, noisy, industrial, grind...something for everyone!
Dave Phillips - ?
(Heart & Crossbone HCB-026)
Given his pedigree as a founder member of grindcore legends Fear of God you’ll acknowledge that I am excused my decision to approach this album with both a sense of trepidation and an (un)healthy helping of rum. I was expecting to be confronted by a wall 30 second howls of apocalyptic rage and instead I’m being gently caressed by a set of introspective and vaguely psychedelic ambient(ish) pieces.
Phillips has undergone a sea-change on this album and has shown a markedly different side to his creativity through the use of accordion, cello, piano & field recordings. The music is beautifully composed (in both senses of the word) with subtle nuances that reward repeated, and close, listens.
It’s an absolute joy to hear a musician step waaaay outside his comfort zone and it’s an extra special joy when he does it this well.
Dave Phillips & Cornelia Hesse-Honegger - Mutations
(Ini Itu #1002)
Dave Philips is a Swiss sound artist working here in transfigured field recordings. The music is deeply engrained in the natural world and the various sounds captured "in national parks, forests, fields, swamps, caves, by rivers, on lakes, under trees etc., in Thailand, Vietnam and Switzerland" have been sympathetically woven to produce a faunal tapestry of stunning complexity.
As interesting as the music is Phillips' partner in this release Hese-Honegger who provides the many images that adorn the release (cover, labels and inserts) detailing the various mutations she has uncovered in the insect life around the worlds nuclear power stations.
It's been my pleasure to hear a few of Dave Phillips' releases over the last couple of years and so far they have never failed to impress.
Pink Venom - Waste of the World
(Dark Meadow Recordings DMR005)
Pink Venom is the alter-ego of one Ed Plenderleith who is the tireless campaigner behind Dark Meadow Recordings and the host of music they have released upon an unsuspecting world over the last couple of years (including one of mine). This is, I think, my first exposure to his solo work (he's also one third of Dark Meadow flagship combo Syrinx) and it's pretty damn fine.
Ed's particular muse likes to lead him down dark, dank, alleyways where the stench of mold and decay is all pervading and the gloom is palpable. He conjures and maintains this blacker than black ambience with ease and places it to hover slightly out of our reach in just the right place to block out any and all light.
In the interests of honesty I have to point out that as individual tracks they are just a tad homogenous with a few moments that rear up out of the swirl to truly grab your ears (the guitar of track 2 and the piano of track 6 being my absolute fave moments) but as a conglomeration of sounds it is a deeply absorbing experience that displays a nicely cohesive vision for an album that will have you returning time and time again.
Pink Venom / Playing With Nuns - Split
(Dark Meadow Recordings)
My background knowledge of half the various cats involved in these two outfits is limited to a cursory search of the Dark Meadows website which is hardly exhaustive research but there you go. We’ll start with the half I do know.
Three linked tracks by Pink Venom which is the game face of label overload Ed Plenderleith and who also makes up approximately one third of Syrinx. I’ve briefly experienced the deeply hallucinogenic soundworlds he conjures on an earlier release - ‘Waste of the World’ - and, with only a small reservation, was mightily impressed. This time out I’m even more so. This is filled with a hazy colour and a gauzy light. It’s metamorphic and translucent and delicate and I like it very much indeed.
Playing With Nuns (and this is the one I’ve looked up) is a chap by the name of Ariel who apparently also records under the Void of Coil nom-de-guerre. His two contributions here are rooted in the darkest of ambiences augmented by rumbling and malefic noises. It’s nicely done and I discovered it made for a nice accompaniment to my book but I found it hard to actually sit and listen to it. They aren’t the most engaging of pieces but maybe that’s the idea - who‘s to say.
Definitely worth procuring for the P.V. tracks and worth sticking around to check out the PWN tracks.
Joao Castro Pinto - Panaural
(Triple Bath TRB034)
This is a set of 3 soundscapes, 2 of which were originally presented in soundwalks in Lisbon (track 1) & Uden (track 2) alongside the album's central piece is the 21 minute 3rd track.
The opener, 'Invocatio', is a fragmentary oddity of clatter and clutter alternating between digital boops and blips and analogue creaks and groans.
'Water-Dreamt-by-Forest' is immediately noticeable as a more typical phonography with sounds sourced in various rural landscapes. To this Pinto has added both the sounds of humanity and human made sounds which is subsequently continued onto 'Catachresis'.
This 3rd track is an oddity here being a collage made from pieces of Lisbon, the river Tagus, a forest in Sintra and, oddly, Canterbury Cathedral. It's an interesting melange even if maybe a little schizophrenic.
An interesting and unexpected ride and that's always to be applauded.
Andrzej Piontek - May You Live In Interesting Times
(R.O.N.F. Records rnf-036)
I must admit that for the first half of this I was pretty bored. It was just another set of distorted and squealing noise music that while being a bit more mobile than is often the case it wasn't really doing anything new or interesting. Then the dying moments of the second track arrived and caught my attention with it's hammered piano (?) chords. This meant I was back to full attention for the final piece on the album which was a good thing because it's a much more interesting prospect. Soft focus washes of grey sound blowing across a grey landscape enlivened by occasional splashes of colour and vague shapes. It's nicely barren and arid in it's isolationism and was a real improvement on the earlier half of the album.
Pleq + Lauki - The Gravity Lens
(Ephre Imprint EPH12)
Two new names to me collaborating here for, I think, the first time and producing something quite lovely.
Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) and Mikel Lauki are musicians working out of Warsaw and Barcelona respectively. The music they have conjured is a single 21 minute longform drone consisting of a series of overlapping sections that morph and regenerate repeatedly, utilising a pervasive sense of melancholy that occasionally warps into something darker and almost vindictive before retracting itself back into it's reverie.
This is beautifully human music and is very recommended.
Procer Veneficus - Saltwater & Glassmoon
(New Age Dawn / Stellar Auditorium Productions AUD001)
Procer Veneficus is the improbable alter ego of one Derek Schultz. His music mixes sparse icy vista soundscapes with dark isolationist ambiences. Throughout the album he travels some interesting roads but never really seems to arrive at an equally interesting destination. The music is thick with portentous atmospheres and dense, nebulous instrumentation but the mix is often muddy and drowns the more interesting aspects in gloop - track 3 being the worst culprit. As noted earlier though Schultz does have a nifty way with conjuring the darkest and starkest of ambiences which at the right time and in the right mood really lock themselves onto your psyche especially on the second and fifth tracks which are absolute corkers.
PS Stamps Back & Olekranon - [no title]
(Inam Records 097)
This is an interesting and unorthodox collaboration. US noisy type Ryan (Olekranon / Sujo) Huber meets Greek glitch wrangler PS Stamps Back (I don't know his given name).
Opening with a deliciously understated solo piece from the European half of the pairing the album subsequently settles into a merging of their respective styles with glitchy, melodic rhythms and overlaid with hard but expansive dronework.
Like I said it's an unusual pairing but it really works. The music displays the dark heart that usually permeates the Olekranon recordings but stripped of his usual industrial metal drums and instead paired with his compatriot's light and mobile rhythms the music feels fresh and airy. I would go so far to say that the noisiest moments are when this album is at it's weakest. It's when it's at it's less intense that the music really swirls into life and luckily that is it's predominant state of being.
Another fine Inam Records release.
(inamrecs [AT] yahoo.com)
Psychatrone Rhonedakk - Disturbs the air
(Black Plastic Sound Records)
Psychatrone Rhonedakk & Cotton Casino - 'Baron Von Rhonedakk & The Crystal Sun'
(Black Plastic Sound Records)
Two releases from the uniquely and rather wonderfully named Psychatrone Rhonedakk of spiralling, soaring, keyboard driven psychedelia.
'Disturbs The Air' is a mixed bag of covers and originals with the latter coming out on top. PR is strongest on the instrumental tracks where the music can envelop and caress. The slightly mundane vocals of the other tracks are like lead weights tied to the (otherwise splendid) music.
'Baron Von Rhonedakk & The Crystal Sun' (which features several contributions from ex-Acid Mothers Temple keyboard player Cotton Casino) is bookended by two versions of Pink Floyd's 'Set The Controls...' which neatly encompass both the mood and the mindset of the album. This album is an altogether freer affair each track (with the exception of the horrible (to these ears at least) 'Night Woman') pushing relentlessly ever-outward as the music dives, swoops and ricochets around your head.
Pye Corner Audio - Black Mill Tapes, Vols. 1-4
(Type Recordings TYPE118CD)
I'm pretty much a newcomer to the joys of PCA having first heard him via the live stream of his Boiler Room set that I was pointed towards by a friend; it is well worth your time. Duly impressed I went forth and picked up the 'Sleep Games' album on Ghost Box and found myself a copy (cough) of the first 2 Black Mill Tapes (which make up the first CD in this here set). 'Sleep Games' is terrific and, at the risk of repeating myself terribly, well worth your time but not really current enough to feature here and I try not to include things that I've acquired by slightly nefarious means so I've been waiting my chance to give a shout out for PCA.
The full set of Black Mill Tapes is a joy to behold. As you should imagine from the Ghost Box link there's a definite nostalgic flavour to some of the music here; it is occasionally whimsical, sometimes solemn and often deeply unsettling. Across the three discs there are a number of common touch points that give us an insight into where PCA are pulling inspiration from with suggestions of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack, Boards of Canada(esque) twisted electronica, the kosmische musik of Klaus Schultze (and friends) and the abundant joys of the European library music vaults all mixed with an obviously abiding love for the deeper, slower, trancier ends of dance music.
With a two and a half hour runtime over three discs covering 5 years worth of work this is a phenomenal set that shows a committed, organic and most of all an instinctual development to create a body of work that is quite simply utterly and completely well worth your time.