Kaspar T. Taeplitz & Z’EV - Fleur de Peau
This meeting of bass / computer (the former) with skins / symphonic bass drum (the latter) results in a set of darkly ritualised psychedelia.
This long track was originally recorded in Paris in January 2010 before being mixed and assembled by Taeplitz. The music as I mentioned earlier is a low key set of hissing, coruscating noise in partnership with Z’EV’s percussion.
Z’EV rarely does anything as crass as using his drum(s) for rhythm and here they tumble and trip along with Taeplitz.
It isn’t the most transformative or transportative of compositions, it’s just too harsh and uncompromising for that but it is an interesting listen.
Taiga Remains - Wax Canopy
(Digitalis Industries ACE015)
Alex Cobb of Taiga Remains is also the person behind the Students of Decay label which, if you're at all familiar with it, should give you a fair insight into just where he's coming from with the music on Wax Canopy. Cobb's music is a shimmering glaze of guitar-sourced drone, a fuzzed-up, coruscating kaleidoscope of colour and light with the ability to initiate a gentle shift of perceptions. It's deceptively simple and surprisingly joyous. This isn't an album born out of night time somnambulism but of searing heat and white light. It's fun to listen to (which isn't something you get to say about too many drone albums) and even more so if you crank the volume up a little and really embrace the blissed-out, burn-up of it all.
Tamaru - Figure
This set of bass guitar improvisations has at it's base (please excuse the pun) a strict doctrine as outlined in the accompanying notes. Tomaru's setup, through it's simplicity, allows him to fully control the overtones coaxed from his delay drenched bass sounds.
There is an inherent problem in single instrument composition in that it often suffersd from a dearth of available sounds unless one is willing to overdub, something which Tamaru's strict minimalistic improvisational style precludes.
Figure is a little one-dimensional in places but equally the control and finesse displayed is quite something to behold. His tones are pristine and the music moves with a stately grace.
My minor reservation aside this is an interesting and worthwhile foray into improvisational minimalism.
Tate and Liles - Without Season
I suspect this collaboration had to happen just to get that awful pun of a name out of the way. Here Darren Tate and Andrew Liles create several soundscapes that mix drones, field recordings, and acoustic instrumentation. The slowly evolving drone of 'Part I' builds until the bird, insect and water sounds, that threaten to swamp it completely abruptly cease leaving only the naked drone. 'Part II' sees us back in the bayou being serenaded by Japanese hillbillies (which reads like the plot of an eighties slasher sequel). The next two parts settle us into the warm embrace of the pure drones that these two do so well on their own whilst 'Part V' brings an accordian into the mix for what almost, but not quite, turns into a song. At various times this album reminded me of both Volcano the Bear (a seemingly random approach to instrumentation) and Nurse With Wound (a seemingly random approach to everything) but fortunately what we have here is far more than the sum of it's, maybe not influences but, contemporaries. Tate and Liles are both skilled enough to stamp their own collective identity onto the proceedings producing an album that I suspect will be haunting my player for some time to come. Well worth a listen.
Darren Tate - Reveal
in an earlier review i described Tate's music as having "the feel of a 1950's sci fi movie about it", a lazy description but one that is exceedingly apt. Tate's droneworld is one of electronic pulses and throbbing tones. It conjures up visuals of Metropolis-esque static electricity generators or the Krell Mind Booster machine from Forbidden Planet, all very good things in my world. Reveal opens with a seemingly impenetrable and monolithic wall of sound that hits you like a feather duvet. Half-formed melodies, mal-formed washes and un-formed whispers coast over a series of stately, fluid, sinuous drones. Never pushy or forceful this beautiful and translucent music pours out of the speakers, moulds itself to the shape of the room and surrounds you and caresses you until you can literally feel it flowing over your skin.
Darren Tate - Ghost Guitars
This is a side of Darren Tate that I'd previously been unaware of. Less introspective, less psychedelic, less drone-based and far more wilfully obtuse than anything I've heard by him before. (Early) Nurse With Wound style rhythms, overlayed with guitar crashes, scrapes and strums, alternating with electronic tones and rubbing against a nonchalently disconcerting accordian all merging into one great and glorious whole.
Darren Tate - Edition
There are certain musicians whose work hits you like no other, where every new thing you hear by them instantly becomes your new favourite. Well, here's one of mine.
Edition opens with a tone that grabs your frontal lobe and squeezes before Tate fragments perceptions by introducing and gently layering a bewildering array of sounds. Tate's music exists in a tidal flow of sound. Wave after wave slowly roll out of the mix. Chasing, overlapping, merging or crashing against one another before receding. As ever there is a physicality present in the music, it has a density that belies its delicacy. Tate's sound palette is forceful and insistent yet also subtle and sinuous. Edition is a disorienting, invigorating and metamorphic listen.
Darren Tate - Organ of Seeing
I have to admit to a considerable level of bias when reviewing new albums by Darren Tate as he's a friend. I've recently collaborated with him on an album (The Moon As A Hole) and also released one of his albums (Small Worlds) through the Quiet World label. Organ of Seeing is his follow up to that very fine album. Here he continues his exploration of the keyboard and the guitar approaching each instrument in ways that are both unique to him and exquisite to hear. Scattered guitar figures and a variety of amorphous flickers add speckles of colour and light to Tate's cosmic drones. Organ of Seeing has a cohesion that belies the individuality of each of it's constituent tracks.
Darren Tate - Another Sunday
Darren Tate's place in the pantheon of UK drone acts has long been assured by his collaborations with the likes of Andrew Chalk (as Ora) and Colin Potter (as Monos) but it is on his solo work that we get the closest look at the aesthetic that drives this unique musician. Darren creates an intensely physical form of drone music. Often when listening to his compositions you can almost feel the music impacting, caressing and bathing your skin. His sounds have a presence like no other. This time however he's mixed things up a little. On 'Another Sunday' Darren has foregone his trademark drones and field recordings (apart from on the final track) and instead has adopted the loop. Another Sunday swirls and tumbles it's way through your perceptions and is decidedly more psychedelic than the majority of Darren's releases. My only complaint would be the inclusion of track 4 (which essentially is 5 minutes of field recordings) seems slightly extraneous but equally it is a nice earthy comedown to what is a trip of an album.
Darren Tate - Moon Lit
A shiny new two track cut from Tate that marries an early slice of effects and field recordings to a brand new pulsating loop. The from the vaults track is waaaay too short but shows that Tate has left the door open for a return to his more angular and dissonant roots. Track two is the psychedelic and decidedly trippy Tate that we here at WWR love as he overlays and contrasts a smorgasbord of pulses, scratches, blips and rumbles to fine effect.
You'll need to be feeling rich though because Moon Lit is anything but cheap. It exists in a miniscule run of 40 numbered copies and each comes with a framed and unique watercolour landscape. Worth every penny.
Darren Tate - Black Beauty
(Locus of Assemblage MASS22)
What looks to be the last of the Locus of mini-Assemblage series for a while at least sees the addition of the ever reliable Darren Tate to the roster of featured artists. Throughout it's run this series has produced many gems and so it's fitting that it ends with an absolute corker. This is Tate at his most mesmeric, creating multi-layered harmonies from pure tones. Recently Tate has been exploring the more psychedelic reaches of his oeuvre and with each release he pushes further into the stratosphere.
Darren Tate - Reflections on a Ceiling
For the last 18 months Darren has been in the midst of probably the most productive period since he began sending these strange artefacts into the world. Reflections on a Ceiling is the latest of these and seems to show Darren returning to the abstracted soundscapes of his earlier work (as heard on the recent re-issue of Promotion on Twenty Hertz). He seems to be re-evaluating that aspect of his music and finding new ways of exploring it. RoaC is less drone driven than recent work. It's there but it's only one part of the whole as greater prominence is given to his unique take on field recordings and his guitar. There is a maturity to these recordings that show an artist that is in a constant dialogue with his instruments and his music. He has developed a sound that is very much unique to him and is all the better for it. Another fabulous release from this excellent artist.
Darren Tate - A Strange Artifact
Now it has to be said that Darren makes some of the most remarkable drone music of anyone working in the field but of late he has put his longform tendencies to one side and re-embraced the abstractions that characterised some of his earlier work. This very limited re-issue of an obscure cut from 2004 is a case in point. The sound is dominated by environmental samples and Tate's brutally primitive squeezebox and sleepily haphazard guitar. Over the course of the album Tate traverses a variety of terrains - all of them slightly purple and a bit squidgy (like a warm Stretch Armstrong) but which fit really well inside your head. Always recommended.
Darren Tate - When An Insect Visits Your Window
As many of you no doubt already know I have a close working relationship with the erstwhile Mr. Tate. At the time of writing we've made three albums together (with another on the way) and I've released one of his albums through Quiet World. I even designed the sleeve for this album. So, with all possible bias put aside here goes.
For me Darren is at his best when he's utterly absorbed in his two favourite toys, his guitar and his keyboard - especially his keyboard. When he really gets into the depths of his synth he pulls out some truly mesmerising sounds as is fortunately the case here. Darren has produced an album worthy of any of the early 70's kosmiche pioneers. His guitar makes an occasional appearance but it is the pulses and swoops of his electronics that carry the ambience towards the stars. His choice of sounds walk a narrow line between being horribly dated and supra-contemporary, luckily in hands as capable as his it is the latter that comes to the fore.
It's been too long since he last put out any, widely available, new music (there have been a few unique albums produced for Art Into Life in Japan) and it's a joy to hear his beautifully psychedelic sounds once again.
Darren Tate - Nature In The City
The ever wonderful Mr. Tate returns with another scorching set of Cluster style cosmic voyages melding keyboards, guitar and field recordings to create a set that from the moment you hit play heads straight through your third eye and drags your mind behind it on a whistle-stop tour of all the most colourful non-places it can find. I love it when he gets his synths out as I don't think there's anyone who can do the cosmic thing with the ease that Tate obviously can. This is well worth tracking down a copy of.
Darren Tate - The Night
Before I'd even listened to it I told DT I was going to give his new album a terrible review. That I was going to pan both it and his entire back-catalogue not because they deserve to be panned - far from it, his is one of the most impressive back-catalogues of anyone involved in this little scene of ours - but just for the hell of it. The problem is I just can't bring myself to do it. Not even in jest. This album is just too good for such treatment.
'The Night' is probably Darren's most appositely named album. The music is drenched in nocturnal resonances and it's almost taciturn musicality reveals a tentative desire to leave the stillness of the surroundings as undisturbed as possible adding only those sounds that are truly apropos. He selects notes with utmost care and attention allowing them only the briefest flutters of existence before they fall away.
It's a beautifully serene album full of warmth with a real sense of honesty and humanity typical of that which permeates all his best work.
Darren Tate - Late Afternoon (for Keijo)
Darren's been exploring a new sound over his last couple of releases. Gone are the cosmic synth drones and in their place he is allowing the sounds of his immediate environment on the outskirts of York dictate where the music will lead. The sounds here are mostly environmental in nature with the music arriving in an almost nonchalant and haphazard manner. Flurries of bells and guitars arrive and briefly unsettle the ambience before disappearing just as abruptly.
This new direction is a distinctly domestic form of psychedelia and one that shows some real promise for future development. I'd have liked this one to have been mastered more aggressively with the, frankly annoying, ambient hiss removed but equally it's all part of the particular soundworld and as such is probably intrinsic to the experience.
Darren Tate - Time Lag
A reissue from the vaults of Mr. Tate.
This release from 2003 is one of an occasional foray into a sort of domestic field recording that Darren has a penchant for. All the sounds here were gathered around his home and then transformed into a sonic tangle of hisses, ticks, rumbles, splashes and tinkles.
it's an odd sort of piece but one that is surprisingly restful. If left playing it kinda just sounds like there's someone else pottering around your house, making a cup of tea or setting the alarm clock. It is a distinctly phantasmagorical experience of the type that I've never heard anyone else do.
Darren Tate - Rotate
This album was destined to be released on my Quiet World label but due to time constraints dictated by a full release schedule Darren decided to put this own put himself and record a new one for Quiet World. To say that I'm a little disappointed is an understatement. This is, I think, the finest music he's produced in a while.
Using guitar and Korg monotron with just a smidge of synth thrown in for good measure Darren has once more taken to the stars with this stunning set of cosmic jams. The music is sparse and for the most part distinctly understated. It's massive in scope and intimate in nature placing the listener in a position where they are held weightless by the sounds. There is a definite melancholy threaded through much of what you hear but its a melancholia derived from exposure to something majestic rather than simple ennui.
Music to make your third eye cry.
Darren Tate - Calm in a Teacup 1986 / 87
(Fungal Records 046)
This collection of some of Darren's earliest recordings (no prizes for guessing when they date from) come housed in a sleeve designed by yours truly. I've done the designs for a few of Darren's albums over the last few years but I'm particularly pleased with this one as it feels at home with the tangle of recordings it contains.
Those of you who follow Darren's work will recognise the style on display in these recordings. In the last few years he has re-embraced this very domestic psychedelia. Recordings that reflect his immediate environment occasionally augmented by brief instrumental interludes. It's a wholly urban form of experimental music. One that seems peppered with a sort of working class grit and grime. It isn't pretty or particularly decorative but it has an honesty in it's conception that makes it utterly compulsive.
Darren Tate – No Longer Here
Here Tate brings his electric guitar and synthesizer out to play on a composition very different to the ones of late.
This isn’t entirely the solo album that the title implies though. Essentially what we have here is a Monos album in all but name as Darren’s slow burn ambience has been pretty significantly reconfigured by Colin Potter.
The NWW man (and long time friend and collaborator of Mr. Tate) has given the sounds a coldly plaintive feel. There’s a real vibe of emptiness within emptiness – like a deserted capsule slowly drifting through the depths of space; where even the very anima of the components of the ship have long ago abandoned any expectation of ever being looked upon again. If this sounds like a foreboding and unwelcoming sort of listen that really do think again as it’s really rather beautiful in its desolation.
Darren Tate - Secret Mantra
As we've done 5 albums together (they're here btw if you want them - ian-quietworld.bandcamp.com) it'll come to no surprise to anyone when I say I'm a real fan of Tate's music. As Ora, Monos and as his own good self he has over the last 20 odd years produced some of the most individual, honest and immersive music to come out of the UK.
On this, the 50th release on his Fungal label he seems in a more spacey and playful mood than has been the case for many of his more recent releases where he's been more interested in plumbing the minutiae of his immediate soundworld. Here he has brought his toys out to play and the album is dominated by synth explorations, guitar noodles and bells. This is absolutely my favourite side of Darren's music. I love it when he goes cosmic on us as he has a way of conjuring tones and atmospheres that have an almost palpable presence within a room yet retain their unearthly qualities.
I love this album. I think it's one of best releases he has made and a real testament to the continuing quality of Darren's work. Happy 50th Fungal. Here's to 50 more.
Tazio and Boy - Winter in the Room
(Humpty Dumpty Records hmpty020)
HD Records is the label that brought us the very wonderful Half Asleep album that I reviewed last issue. This time out they've continued with the theme of fragile and pensive pop but with a more lo-fi slowcore feel.
The music from the duo displays elements taken from a variety of influences. It's reminiscent most notably the stalwarts of the aforementioned genre (such as Low), the delicate alt-country of Souled American and Cat Power.
These songs are their own entity however and obviously they will survive and thrive on their own merits and thrive is exactly what they do. The songs are solidly composed and pull you into the mix to be lost in their world. It is maybe a little a little lacking in hooks but it is undoubtedly a beautiful release.
Very recommended for fans of the aforementioned and anyone else with a penchant for well crafted songs.
Teledu - Soiling Charge
We first made David's acquaintance a couple of years back when he was working under the alias of The Stinking Badger. Then, the music on the appropriately named 'Chunx' was a constantly shifting array of snippets of sound that I mentioned could maybe benefit from chilling a little and allowing a groove to form. Well, this time out things are indeed a little more restrained and I think all the better for it.
The music is guitar led and composed with a definite ear for the odd, the disjointed, the whimsical and the psychedelic. I say composed but for the most part it all feels improvised and spontaneous. Recorded old school style on a 4 track cassette deck this is a warts and all recording where David's guitar roams the disc making an array of wilful sounds as other instruments come and go, staying just long enough to add their tuppence worth to the proceedings.
It's all a heap of fun but at 56 minutes it's way to long for my attention span and I never actually made it through the entire album in a single sitting.
Jeremie Ternoy Trio – Bill
The stream of quality releases from Circum-Disc continues with this rather fine set of jazz excursions from the trio of Ternoy on piano, Nicolas Mahieux on double bass and Charles Duytschaever on drums.
It’ll take better ears than mine to be able to point at the roads they are travelling and identify fellow travellers or the techniques they use to make the journey interesting but I can tell you that once heard you’ll want to follow in their wake forever.
The music is lyrical and unhurried; content to find a pace that allows them to advance and detour at will but in a manner both delightful and unexpected but also without veering messily from the path they are wandering.
There is melody in abundance that is borne along on the backs of the jazz but the album’s most profound moment for me comes in the form of track 3 – ‘Repetitifs’ – which brings to mind both the looping of New Yorkers like Reich and Glass but as filtered through a vibe very reminiscent of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra at their most wilfully tangled.
It’s a lovely album that rewards listens in a variety of situations and circumstances.
Test Phasen Negativ - Burn, Giant, Burn!
Solo project for Ralf Rabendorn of Infinitus Ensemble of deep, dark, ambient, rumble and roar. His solo material is an altogether more intense and unfriendly experience than his collaborative work and also less expansive. Here he operates in an almost exclusively dark ambient mindset that allows the album a definite cohesion between tracks. His sounds are well sourced, his ambience is beautifully sustained and his ear for composition is flawless. Liking some light in my music this is probably a little too bleak for me to be returning to often but I think when the mood to immerse myself in something unsociable comes over me then this will be a definite option. Recommended.
Tetragrammaton - Elegy for Native Tongues
(Subvalent Records SBV001)
Tokyo free music trio Tetragrammaton create a brutally uncompromising cascade of sound. Drummer Nobunaga’s often unrelenting drum patterns driving the music as Cal Lyall’s guitar and TOMO’s hurdy gurdy & sax wail, soar, honk, clang, buzz, humm, squeak and squeal.
This nicely packaged double CD features the trio in the studio (disc 1) and live (disc 2) and in both cases it’s pretty extreme stuff. The studio disc is, I think, probably the more satisfying as they take several opportunities to turn down the fire and allow the music to simmer for a moment or two before once again returning to full blaze.
I like the obdurate nature of the music but I must admit to finding these recordings a little one dimensional (and tiring) although a lot of that is down to the sound. By half way through the first disc I was physically craving some bass. Everything is pitched in the mid and upper range. I fully accept that the bass isn’t the most dynamic of instruments and this is fiery music but for me that extra element would have raised this from being a good album to being a great album.
The Boy - Beat
(Mousikokinima :(Mavres) Trihes 002)
Greek musician and film-maker Alexander Voulgaris here constructs a series of tangled and restless glitchscapades mixing together malformed melodies with arrhythmic beats. Whilst parts of this album create a distinct and absorbing soundworld it is hard to fully embrace when one realises that what Voulgaris has done is create a set of simple songs and then reversed them all so they play backwards. If he'd tried this with one song I could understand it as an experiment but with five songs (the whole album) it sounds one-dimensional and ultimately a little boring.
Theme - Valentine (Lost) Forever
(Hearts & Crossbone HCB 023)
Theme is a trio of Stuart Carter, Jeanne Boyer and Richard Johnson (who is the fella behind the Lumberton Trading Company label and the Adverse Effect zine) and this is their second release although I must admit that the first passed me by.
I'm writing this review on the 15th of November, 2 days after the fifth anniversary of the death of Coil founder John Balance and it must be said that this album will be a wet dream for those of you who are hankering after the industrial music of yore, in particular the swirlier psychedelic extremities of aforementioned Coil and also the bleakly dystopian vocalising and lyricism of Current 93.
It's difficult to listen to Theme and not play 'spot the band' as they really do wear their influences on their sleeve but equally they never sound particularly derivative either. The constructions are very much their own and are really quite wonderful showing a depth of musicianship and skill that is to be admired but the comparisons are nonetheless inescapable.
Theo - Encouragement
Fabulous little post-rock ep of guitar & drums (along with a battery of effects) all played live and simultaneous by one lonely (but very clever) chap from Worcester in the UK called Sam Knight. Musically it's very reminiscent of the woefully under-rated Ganger with it's math sensibilities and looped melodies. It's melodic and hypnotic and utterly deceitful in it's apparent structural simplicity but that is purely down to Knight's skill in his craft.
Regardless of the fact that it's a one man band what you get here is simply astonishingly good. The only part I have issues with is the ugly synth sound on tracks 3 and 4 but I can accept that when the rest of the music is this good.
I am truly gob-smacked by how good this ep is. Buy it now before it's gone forever.
Three Strings - 3s - Second
(etlefeucomme_net label / 003)
Released as a download on Belgium net label Et Le Feu Comme, ‘3s - Second’ is a set of improvised explorations from Norwegian Musician Terje Paulsen using primarily an acoustic guitar and an un-named ‘old folk instrument’ both of which have been reduced to only three strings. Different techniques, equipment and strategies have been used to augment and manipulate the sounds of these instruments. I really liked the other Paulsen release I’ve heard (Landform - see elsewhere this issue) but this is even better. He operates in a tightly controlled soundworld with not a single note misplaced or superfluous. In less talented hands I would find this to be a fairly tedious proposition as I like my music to retain the hap-hazard feel of a human hand guiding it. Paulsen though has created a simply stunning set of diverse improvisations - sometimes amorphous, oft-times ambiguous and always ambitious - that I will be returning to again and again.
throuRoof - Whale Bones
(Sentient Recognition Archive SRA 006)
Slow build dark drone album from this Italian sound-maker that mixes ominous tones with occasional forays into echo laden almost ritualistic drumming. I generally find this sort of portentous music to be either quite tedious or un-intentionally funny but Throuroof manages to completely avoid the second of those pitfalls while skirting around the edges of the former. There are parts of this album that are allowed to continue way too long to maintain my interest but fortunately when they do change it's always in a worthwhile direction that pulls me back into the embrace of the music for a while at least before that too stays past it's welcome. Of the two tracks it is the second that is for me the most successful, it's mid-pitched tones overlapping and tripping through their journey. It's a far more ambient excursion than the first and one that is genuinely engaging and immersive.
An album that is very much recommended for it's second track but with reservations about the first.
Tidal / Peter Duimelinks - Ablution
Having once more (second time this year) managed to infect my computer with a virus I'm writing this review into a battered red notebook and so have no information to give you on just who or what Tidal or Peter Duimelinks are and is. They may well be one and the same person for all I know.
The single 20 minute track that makes up Ablution is founded on a post-industrial tectonic rumble upon which is layered a host of rubbed and raw sounds, some identifiable, some not. It's gritty textures are well chosen and interwoven with a delicate touch. Ablution doesn't really do anything that is unexpected or new but I suspect that's not the point. It's a nice little album, or maybe that should be EP, that offers a thoroughly enjoyable way to while away 20 minutes.
Tigers Jaw - Belongs to the Dead
(Summersteps Records Handmade SUM-HM 003)
I don't listen to a lot of pop music these days. There was a time when it was all I listened to but that was a while ago. These days I treat it more as a sort of sugar addiction. Every now and again I get the uncontrollable urge to binge on something soft and sugary. It's a craving that must be sated. Usually I go straight for 'Slanted and Enchanted' or '...Comforter Collector' era Grandaddy or maybe an early Flaming Lips or two. There are others, played less often, loved slightly less but loved nonetheless. Today I'm going to add Tigers Jaw to the list. The flaws are quite profound. The muddy production renders much of the instrumentation flat and lifeless but the song writing is concise and massively happy. On the wrong day 'Belongs to the Dead' would be a diabetes inducing dose of sweetness that would make my teeth ache. On the right day, in the right place, it's perfect pop music.
Thomas Tilly & Jean-Luc Guionnet - Stones, Air, Axioms
(Helix / Circum-Disc LX005)
From a piece commissioned for the 2010 MicroClima festival this CD is a musical exploration of the architecture and acoustics of St Pierre Cathedral in Poitiers.
It’s a nice concept to work from and the liner notes go some way to explaining how the pair went about this. I’m unconvinced by how successful the music is in conveying this concept though. What we have musically is a fairly nice and fairly engaging set of taciturn droneworks but, for me at least, you get no feel of the space or the instruments.
Please don’t get me wrong the music is perfectly fine, I like it. If dark drone is your bag then please really do give it a go. If however you are looking for a profound meditation on acoustic space then maybe you should head to Alvin Lucier’s ‘I’m Sitting in a Room’.
TOC - You Can Dance (If You Want)
Now this is just absolutely fabulous.
TOC is a 3 piece of Jeremie Ternoy (on Fender Rhodes), Peter Orins (drums) and Ivann Cruz (guitar) who, it says here, are part of the wider Muzzix music collective in Lille, France - www.muzzix.info
On this, their second album, the trio produce a blistering set of psychedelic, post-krautrock, rock, jazzcore explorations. The music twists and turns, folds and bends, crouches and leaps. It's a bewilderingly complex and convoluted dance through the spaces between rock and jazz.
The interplay between the three is born from jazz. The scope of the music, the aching endless horizons towards which they are heading, is pure psychedelia. The groove that powers it along emerged fully realised from the Germany of the early 1970s but the desire to merger these traits, to explore and roam in such a wonderful way, that's entirely TOC's doing and I for one am in awe.
Tomo - Butterfly Dream and Other Guitar Works
(Subvalent Records Edition SBV004)
Tomo is the hurdy gurdy and saxophone player in fiery Japanese improv ensemble Tetragrammaton. Here his music takes a significantly different turn as he offers a selection of mesmeric guitar and hurdy gurdy compositions.
Building from an early exposure to Fahey style folk during a sojourn in the US in his younger days Tomo's playing has all the relentless melodic cascades of the music of the highways and byways of America. His playing however is not confined to that one continent and travels the world freely taking inspiration from all corners. The hurdy gurdy often imbues his playing with a Indian raga vibe that is utterly bewitching and on other occasions it is the aroma of middle eastern spices that permeate.
I'm deeply in awe of this album both in terms of musicianship and composition. When I originally opened the parcel and glanced at the name I automatically assumed this release was going to be of the noisy improv ilk. It isn't. It isn't by quite a large degree. It's absolutely delightful and made all the more so by being utterly unexpected.
Giancarlo Toniutti - Qwalsamtimutkw?Italuc'ik (And Now He Almost Did Make
Himself Into Hemlock Needles, It Is Said)
(Alluvial Recordings A27)
Definitely the album I was most looking forward to hearing in this months pile of seedees, Toniutti's beautifully packaged album on Alluvial Recordings is a tour-de-force of experimental simplicity. Composed on a 'Rattle-Harp' (a self-built bowed, long thin wire construction), Toniutti's recording was originally conceived as an accompaniment to an exhibition by Luisa Tomasetig. As such it does, I feel, suffer slightly by the absence of it's visual counterpart as for vast swathes of the 59:59 runtime the static-minimalism that characterises Toniutti's work is very static and very minimal. During these parts I found my attention wandering away from the music and also the workaday sounds of life continuing around me rendered chunks of the composition inaudible.
When the stars align however and the world is quiet and the attention is focussed this album fully reveals itself. This isn't an album about change this is an album about stillness. Change is there but in a less-time conscious way than the norm. It usually takes the form of vague speckles of sound that briefly alter the landscape before it returns once more to it's former state.
It must be said though that I did find the minimalism on display here to be a somewhat punishing listen. I don't think this album will be making regular visits to my player but in the course of writing this review it's been played more than half a dozen times and each time I've appreciated it's subtleties more so who can say for sure.
Tortured by Turtles - Vilnius Qui Dort
(Gun Cums Gum)
Crazy Lithuanians with what seems like a mountain of instruments and noise making devices producing a fairly joyous and cacophonous mash-up of styles, sounds, melodies, rhythms and beats. This manages to be simultaneously serene and psychotic through an intelligent and wilful juxtaposition of ideas. It's easily the strangest thing I've heard this month and also, potentially, the best.
Tricorn & Queue - Continual Passage
The curiously named Tricorn & Queue is by far the most accessible of the 3 releases on Stunned Records that are featured in this months Wonderful Wooden Reasons. They confidently straddle the blurry line between psychedelic experimentation and free-form abstraction and produce some sumptuous music. Their forte is very much in the cascading almost-melodies upon which they build their compositions before hiding them behind smoke and mirrors that gives the music a blissfully oneiric quality.
Scott Tuma - Not for Nobody
(Digitalis Arts et Crafts Editions ACE010)
I've been doing Wonderful Wooden Reasons for a few years now and over time it became clear that certain labels are an almost sure sign of a quality release. Faraway Press is one, Die Stadt another but for sheer scope of vision and excellence of music nothing comes close to Digitalis Industries. So far this year, four of the best albums I've heard have been released on this label. Finding a Digitalis envelope on my doormat in the morning puts a spring in my step for the rest of the day.
Apparently Scott Tuma is a bit of a legend in his own quiet way having previously released a couple of solo albums as well as being part of Souled American and Boxhead Ensemble. Personally, I'd never heard of any of them so this album came as a spectacular surprise. Being stylistically very similar, Scott Tuma's music is the beautifully stoned to the Dirty Three's beautifully drunk. It is entrancingly haphazard, each note feels meticulously strewn. The music sits down next to you and keeps you company for the best part of an hour (or more if you press repeat). It tells you stories and makes your mind soar and your heart sing.
I love this album.
Luigi Turra & Christopher McFall - Tactile.Surface
Mystery Sea's daughter label moves onto it's second release with this collaboration between Italian Turra and American McFall. This is my first experience of Turra so I can't really comment on where their individual aesthetics come in to play but their combined aesthetic, in almost complete opposition to the notion of collaboration, is one of stark isolationism. Sounds sourced on a cross state journey (by the latter) and within the confines of a static location (the formers living room) are moulded to create a hovering liminal period of timelessness. The piece could go on for hours or merely minutes, once you're inside time loses much of it's meaning and it's easy to become submerged into Turra & McFall's transformation of their base recordings into a deeply pensive drift of sound that is utterly beautiful.
Twenty-Hertz Drone Series #'s 1 - 10 (but not #6)
The earlier numbers in this series have been out for quite a while now but as I only bought my copies quite recently and as they are all still available from the label (I checked) what started out as a review of #10 is now a review of, almost, the entire series. So, with a deep breath, here we go.
First up is label boss Paul Bradley's contribution which is a nice enough start to the series but feels quite tenuous and ultimately doesn't really go anywhere. Colin Potter arrives with #2, the first of his two installments. Shimmering and sparkling aren't adjectives that are usually given to drone works but both apply here. It shifts gear several times over the course of its 23 minutes and it's all rather wonderful. Potters second appearance follows with #3's collaboration between him and Phil Mouldycliff. A wonderfully cavernous feel to the track, complete with the sounds of dripping water, serve to make this an altogether more orchestral and grandiose release than the others. Darren Tate's offering brings us back into the light with his superbly controlled mid-range drones. Whilst Tate's contribution has the feel of 1950's sci fi movie about it, Freiband (which, if memory serves, is a Vidna Obmana side-project) offer the sound of pure outer space. Piercing sinewaves and deep, dark spacey drones serve to make this not only one of the more unique sounding in the series but also one of the best. For some reason #6 has been deleted so it's on to #7 which absolutely floored me. Andrew Liles is fast becoming one of the most talked about UK drone musicians and on the evidence of this it's a reputation well deservered. Crystal clear, tightly controlled and utterly sublime. Next up is Cheapmachines with an altogether more industrial sounding contribution. This is a much harsher take on the drone which is very welcome but, as with #1, there's not really enough happening to fully keep my attention for the duration.. If you really want to see what this guy can do go to his website and download the stunning 'Lamina' you won't regret it. David Wells enters the fray with #9 taking everything up a notch with his top-end digital fractures played against a constantly evolving backdrop of differing textures from 'organ drones' to 'wave noise'. For big chunks this is drone in name only but it is rather good. Finally we get to #10 which I've read (in Vital I think) is to be the last of the series. If this is true then Irr. App. (ext) provide one hell of a finale. Huge great tidal waves of drone surge from the speakers replacing the understatment of many of the others in the series with pure unashamed bombast. This is fab and it knows it but that's cool because this is by far the best of what is a pretty good series.
Twinkle³ - Let's Make A Solar System
A trio consisting of Richard Scott, David Ross & Clive Bell, Twinkle³ has a pedigree to raise an eyebrow to and it shows on this their first collaboration. The music on 'Let's Make a Solar System' is every bit as fun as the title and that name imply. The three have mixed synths, hawaiian tremoloa, shakuhachi & much more to produce music that is brimming with life and light. In places it's almost dance music, some beat addict could add a drumline to these recordings and it could easily be a new album from Wibutee or Xploding Plastix. Without the drums however this still swoops and soars like a folk music for the most exotic of lands.