Friday, November 30, 2007
Then there is the variation - the bargains. Some of it may be because of poor algorithms - at big pond you can do well if you are a Mike Oldfield fan because the first few albums are priced on the track number - so a few dollars for Tubular Bells. Similarly with Eno's Music for Aiports. But it is not consistent.
But it's 'boxed' sets that confuse me. Further to the ones in that post, I have recently purchased a full Wagner's Ring Cycle (14 disks) all Mahler's symphonies (10 disks) and Beethoven's (10 hours worth). These are not by dud people - the Mahler is on Amazon for $150 (US). But there are other similar sets at $80-100. Why? Not that I mind - I had wanted to hear some of The Ring and can now sample at leisure. It just seems odd.
Normal reviewing will be returning soon
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The result is a series of weird radio transmissions from another dimension - the voice shifts in and out of meaningfullness, instruments call and deconstruct and repeat, percussion weaves in and out, and the mind tries to build something from the words, grasping at interpretation as actual statements fly pass. The musical looping playfulness scraping and scattering around in the background echoes into darkness.
Some titles are metonymic - the Amerindian feel to Indian summer, the tumbling Ready to roll, watery Oh bouy as waves drift and whispers whistle. Others reflect their 'text' I'm a sucka or Bring out the dead. Forest for the trees voice keens wordlessly over a twittering of birds and insects. Most tracks are relatively Short, but the final Calm down is extended and provides an opportunity for some lovely extended violin loops.
This is haunting as its phantasmal verbal tangets tantalise your desire to find meaning. The music fractures dissolving melodic meaning as well - creating an album of drama and fascination.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
What probably held me back was the second album L'amour ext mort. This is quite a 'concept' album based on transgression and sexual politics. It is focussed and presented up close and personal. The vocal is to the front of the mix and at this level M.'s voice is a weakness, sometimes flat and a distraction. The opening song Lies in your eyes continues the strong musical direction of the first album - dark analog synths; Adam slows with guitar and dark ambinece, though Miss Zina (baise moi) has a nice drive and catchy chorus. As the album progresses the musical side is strong - slow buring guitar ambience in The motel-room song, dark foreboding in The story of joy, degredation and incest to the bloopy synth of Mother's milk, simple guitar and processed spoken vocals Goodby, swirling radio, guitar figures and a sample that exacerbates weakness in Baton rouge all develop the mood of the album. This is broken by a coda about how to draw a heart (F.B.) that slides into guitar and piano. This is a hard album to get into, but a very 'brave' one - it exposes M.'s vulnerabiulities both personaly and musically. It is a difficult second album based very definitely on honesty and strong feelings. It is not as immediately accessible as Lucy but has strengths of its own. I look forward to a third album that combines the musical variety of the first album with the intensity of the second - that will be an amazing release.
The best link I could find for M. is cdbaby.com/cd/mmusic and cdbaby.com/cd/mmusic2
But now I have been advised that M. has a website www.marthyn.com
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Gustavo Aguilar is a precussionist, composer, improvisor and demonstrates all these on Unsettled on an Old Sense of Place (103). Three tracks were performed by an ensemble that includes Aguilar (various instruments and live processing), a second live processor, voice and harp, viola and woodwinds. Xochicaloe uses a South American percussion as a solid base over which the harp and flute skitter, sometimes processed and looped, guitar descends and wordless voice create a dense complexity that eases out towards the end. In RoCaMaYoHa sliding dulcimer descedns into a wildness of percussion, shrill voice, honking that eases and rebuilds - Jeff Surak's Second Violin had a piece titled Hospital fugue of the mad nurse and that title would fit this. A martial percussion and electronics takes us out with swirling winds before more visceral high tones and extremeity and finally a period of agressive ambience (oxymoron anyone?) The final ensemble piece is Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (which is a group of cells, not nerve bundles as per the liner notes [don't get me started on them - pretentious moi?]) - this emerges from rolls of thunder, fragments of vocal and woodwind peeps, building rhythm that then does battle with an electrical hiss which wins leading to another electro-ambient exploration - a nicely balanced piece. Between each of these are solos - the first a slow picked and percussive work on guitar that builds a flamenco rhythm and Dirac's theory on snare drum which uses a variety of techniques (including a coin dropped on it). The final track is Werndell's History - a poem by Wendell Berry put to simple but effective glockenspeil accompaniament, a touch that emphasises the scope of this album. An exciting album.
Minamo incorporates two performances by Carla Kihlstedt (violin) and Satoko Fujii (piano) in 2002 and 2005. The two artists, who apparently hadn't played together before the first or played again before the second, work seemlessly together riffing off each others ideas and providing space for development. There are touches of jazz, classical and almost rocking in the music, at times restrained before exploding outwards, swapping lead roles between the two instruments. The longest track from their first encounter - One hundred and sixty billion spray - starts with picking and plucking on both instruments as they then move into a dance in which the lead keeps swapping. In overview, the violin is sweeter and more playful while the piano more majestic, and while that perhaps simplifies it too much, the short Lychnis that concludes San Francisco demonstrates it. The second meeting was in Wels, and Larry Ochs feels it was less conducive, but still 'smoking' (in the liner notes - and better, simpler notes they are too) andI enjoyed it - as a single statement it has a structure that works very effectively and while the sound may not be as good, the music is exciting and delightful, with some sublime lyric passages. An excellent pairing of instruments and/or performers
Friday, November 9, 2007
Also from PE – D+D (Dereck Higgins and Dino Felipe no pit 105) with a self-titled 7” single double A-side. Blink and you could miss this – the pink 45 lasts less than 3 minutes a side. Properties (A) bleeps blurts squeaks scrapes in a quiet field – the eruptions appearing and disappearing. Guitar and synths seem to be the source of a relaxed randomness that disappears into the silent spaces. Ribbons (AA) has a fuller makeup, layered sweet synth tones with cable loose interferences, distorted voices, shimmery scrapes, burring compounding to a density. An interesting one for the vinyl junkie
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Part of what will be an occasional 'composer' series, stimulated by something like stumbling over their webpage! Over the years I have come across people in various places and releases - let alone pseudonyms - and like the idea of pointing to their catalogue. K M Krebs first hit my attention as 833-45 with a number of releases on No Type. I found a few of these, then he sent me a couple of CD-Rs and then recently he popped up on Con-V a couple of times so I went looking for more. I found a few, which I'll touch on in a minute, but also found his home page. It includes a very nice blog covering his own releases, pointers to interesting web labels/albums, electronics and general stuff.
The most straightforward description of much of his work would be pointillist ambience - small elements looping modulating and layering to create long sweeping pieces. Those elements are percussive electronic syntheised sounds and occasional voices or sonography. The works ebb and flow through your audio space. This side is exemplified by The Light Will Fill the Darkness... which was originally released on Mystery Sea but is now downloadable, the drifting electronica of the Fog sequence or his Rain 1 release for the Webbed Hand Netlabel series (833-45 has also released one, and more on the series at a later date, probably).
Then there are some more electronic works like Live at Muliplex 11, the two Jade Furnace releases comprising short pieces that are available to listen to or sample, or An Orange Radio. And a 'narrative' work on the SineFiction no-type sublabel
As 833-45, the more abstract electronic side (though it is all leaning to abstraction rather than melodic or rhythm drive) is to the fore, creating with radio emissions and pulsations to create a more scientific industrial ambience. It was in this guide that most of his work for No-Type was produced, though Solar Cycle which I reviewed as CD-R has been net-label released also. That was meant to be 833's last release, but it is continuing.
Anyway Krebs is a fascinating artist to follow across the net - but for those who don't have the time, patience or downloads - there is a wonderful opportunity at the home page: a DVD collection of all the net works of Krebs in his various incarnations, some of which are no longer available. I haven't heard them all as my listening comes from years of trawling plus two cd-rs, but I can recommend what will be 20+ hours of satisfying listening.