"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Heavyweight Boxing

Not so much art work as art works. And less a music label, more an art gallery-cum-craft shop. The art, and craft, of Time Released Sound’s Colin Herrick, curator/artist/artisan, is evident in each meticulously worked audio-visual assemblage. In April this SF one-man band trailed the Chocolate Box series, a set of six discs each packaged in ‘a small 3.75” square, hinge lidded and greatly modified chocolate box’ to be issued in pairs over the Spring period. Note: looks like they’re all gone, but other editions are available for those for whom music is the star and artwork supporting cast.

It’s a nice conceit - one that taps, presumably ironically, into the connotations of ‘chocolate box’ (‘Chocolate box art originally referred literally to decorations on chocolate boxes. Over the years the terminology has developed and is now applied broadly as a descriptive, but often pejorative, term to describe paintings and designs that are warm, idealistic and sentimental.’), as if seeking to reclaim a space for such an orientation in art/music.

David Newlyn’s Ruins apparently came from “demolition materials” from TRS’s office walls. Newlyn’s form - on Mobeer, Cotton Goods, Boltfish, Symbolic Interaction and U-Cover – primes us for a heady fix of neoclassical and light electronics, guitars and field recordings. Delicate deep flow, somewhat maudlin, as is his wont, heart-string tugs a-plenty, all doused in ambient wash, though this seems a more pared back Newlyn, finding a more spatial string to his bow. Two tracts of keening strings, melancholic swells and oneiric tonefloat - receiving transmissions from Aquarius, who enthuse: “…hazy and gauzy and washed out, long layered drones softly undulate over all manner of mysterious field recordings, delicate piano melodies, buried operatic vocals, foot steps, voices, children playing, all beneath a fog of long tranced out drones and looped string shimmer, finishing with some surprising drum-driven distortion.”

Perhaps most intriguing of the first pair is Taskerlands, which opens to reveal two delicacies of psyche-tinged folk-flecked ambience from Michael Tanner (Plinth), the vintage music box-wrangling man behind Collected Machine Music, and David Colohan of psych-folkists United Bible Studies. The project name is drawn from the haunted Victorian mansion of 1972 BBC TV drama, The Stone Tape, which explored the theory of residual haunting – that ghosts are recordings of past events made by the natural environment, images somehow captured and re-broadcast by physical materials. Still a suggestive narrative for this music 40 years on, Taskerlands is not especially creepy, but the spaces of its two 20-minutes tracts of spatial meandering resonate as if haunted with glimpses of lightly treated guitar, dark piano ruminations, bass clarinet flutings, and “frequencies” (says the credits). ‘…softly smoldering sonic rumination, slipping from dense tangles of abstract Appalachia to brooding low end swirl, flickering melodic drift to dark distorted droned out minor key dirges, from haunting hypnotic thrum, to washed out hazy psychedelic shimmer,’ thanks again to Aquarius.

Belgian Bernard Zwijzen is behind the third box, Four Peaks, under his Sonmi451 alias. Where his earlier Star Atlas, soared into the far reaches of the solar system, this title seems to point to more earthbound, albeit steepling, entities (titles “Eiger,” “Matterhorn,” etc). The terrain is nearly silent, sometimes reduced to single notes extended across remote pulses. A Fluid writer says: “Remember while listening that Elger is not just a peak in Switzerland, it’s also a crater on the moon. Which is fitting for an album that, while reportedly made with terrestrial equipment, is so celestial in form.” Actually, he says Elger but discogs say it’s Eiger - insufficient to warrant calling the whole thing off, though. Keeping it simple, kindred spirit blog bloke Peter van Cooten reckons: “The four peaks (Eiger, Grossglockner, Matterhorn and Tre Cime Di Lavaredo) are conquered in just over 35 minutes of beautiful, crackling atmospheric sounds.”

Next, Georgian sound artist Rezo Glonti flouts his unheard-of status with The Diary Of The Second Officer, a sort of document of an imagined crewman, into which persona he projects himself, ranging across various locations with recorder, laptop and keyboard, the ensuing conceit making for an involving audio-travelogue. Field recordings were captured from road trips – airports in Istanbul and Singapore, the cityscape of Kagoshima, as well as Georgian sites – Batumi Botanical Garden and a village, Chibati. The “Moved By” sequence which punctuates the set is both a smart pun, and an eloquent testament to the notion that places and movement make music. “Moved By (Airplane)” sets the background noise of flying to minimal electronics, high in atmosphere, while “Moved By (Car)” harnesses the thrum of the eponymous vehicle’s tyres as low-end ground to a resonant keyboard figure. “Kagoshima” is stately and serene Eno-esque drift over fertile rustling field sounds. Elsewhere there are hints of everything from GAS to Porn Sword Tobacco in the wooze of these winsome bleary driftscapes, with a nebulae of electronics + field captures swathing minimalist motifs in a gauzy patina, as if shortwave radio transmissions of off-world elevator music. An artfully conceived and realized collection linking analogue and glitch, environmental and electronic.

LMYE-bees with an eye for obscure Frisian lexis may recall Festive 50 pick, Deislieper. Next day Jan and Romke Kleefstra’s trio with Sytze Pruiksma added Christiaan Kuitwaard on guitar, and went on to record Sinneplakken. Dutch ambient blog-bloke PVC blogs linguistically: “I asked Romke about the meaning of the word “Sinneplakken”, as this is not an existing Frysian word, but a combination of “Sinne” (Sun) and “Plakken” (places). “Sinneplakken” could refer to the spots on the ground in the wood where the sun shines through the branches of the trees. The word is used in the track ‘Blackstil Wetter’, referring to spots, or speckles, on someone else’s hands.” The whole thing is closely themed with Frisian culture, the box collaged with Frisian Vikings, containing Frisian soil, two bags of Black Frisian tea, alluding to the Kleefstras’ stern indigenous sonic spirit. Compared to earlier Kleefstra works, it has a rougher, unpolished feeling, “steeped in those shorter days and longer nights of mysterious northern climes.” One Kleefstra to scrape guitar, one Kleefstra to intone poetry, and a Pruiksma to rattle percussion behind them. Sparse chimings, reticent plucks and muted strums and pulses. Vocal delivery is just barely out of grasp, a form of spoken word that eludes the non-Frisian speaker but adds a vaguely unsettling timbre complementing the doleful intonations, swells and swirls and static, FX blur and random percussion bouts, and soft psych-squalls of a strange series of soundscapes that elide from barely there abstract minimal to folk drift to slow postrock smouldering.

One of the most elaborate designs is saved for final chocolate indulgence, Quietus Gradualis, on which Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) gets together with Spheruleus, Harry Towell to his music mates, resuming a communion last seen on Towell’s own Audio Gourmet, covered here. Spheruleus’ “guitar meanderings and pseudo stringed ambiance,” is subtly layered in Pleq’s “slightly crunchy and somewhat droney top coating,” - the twain having been, incidentally, separately LMYE-ed and igloo-ed. The first, “Apologue” assembles a hushed body of guitar drone and strings to to congregate in a sort of doleful hovering post-chamber music woven into crepitating neo-folk flecked with electronic filigree. It sprawls in tenebrous minor key meandering, building without building with a GY!BE-esque brooding intensity that somehow reaches climax without crescendo, simply letting the field noise gradually subside leaving strings unadorned. No quiet-loud here - just quiet in varying densities. The soft noise-wreaths/wraiths render the strings time-released in the sense of being imported from distant times. “Vestiges” is even better - muted fretboard finger-slides rippling through a miasma of looping string-swathes, quasi-symphonic, tintinnabulating in magisterial sunblind shimmer.

All in all, some heavyweight boxing from the talented Mr Herrick.

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

60s and 70s

The Wire doesn't rate it, apparently, but The Wire is wrong*. To these ears (as noted) Damian Valles's Nonparallel (Experimedia) is one of this year's essential releases - a compelling, rich piece of avant-garde archeology that pays an anything but reverential homage. It honours its objects (Nonesuch's 'Quality Recordings at the Price of a Quality Paperback') appropriately by embedding & ultimately evaporating them through a potent series of shivering, crackling drones.

As Anti-Gravity Bunny noted in a spot-on (&, ahem, appreciably more timely) review, this is Jeckian re-appropriation done to a turn ("pops & clicks turned into a dozen muted typewriters...classical pianos melted in a cauldron of dark drones, something wholly original born out of forgotten thrift store relics."). Don't bet against its severe, transforming beauty enduring as long as those $2.50 classics...

*NB: ironic use of categorical judgement in obviously taste-determined context...

Blurb: "Nonparallel (In Four Movements), is composed and arranged entirely from samples from the recordings of avant-garde Western classical composers and computer music released by the Nonesuch label in the 60s and 70s. In working with the material, Valles wanted to enter into its very lineage, to forge a dialogue with it, to both extrapolate something essential from it and contribute to its legacy by using it to create an original work some three decades later. Divided into four movements, it is a nuanced album of subtle complexities that took roughly three years to complete. The process started with recording small sections, randomly selected from pieces written and performed by the likes of Elliot Carter, William Bolcom, Charles Ives, Charles Wuorinen, Stefan Wolpe, et al. The source material was then carefully cut up, rearranged, stretched & heavily manipulated. In addition, the decision to sample directly from the original vinyl editions was important in order to capture the crackles and noises generated from the records themselves. In using them to create a backdrop for the new pieces, the intent is for the old sounds to mix with those generated from the newly pressed work to create another aspect to the overall soundscape."

Nor is Nonparallel all that Valles has up his sleeve. Like last year's Skeleton Taxa, his ratcheting Monuments and Ruins split with Talvihorros (Textura) - a spacious, spectral counterweight to the crowded, closed-in NP - also repays time invested in it. 

Movement I by Damian Valles

Damian Valles - Movement II

Damian Valles - Nonparallel [In 4 Movements] (album preview)

talvihorros / damian valles - monuments and ruins (album preview)

Hollow Earth Theory (Sample) by Damian Valles

damian valles - skeleton taxa (album preview)

Bones Made Out of Bone from divershands

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Lend Me Four Shorts

A quick, overdue lift for a soggy Friday via some not especially recent treats that perked these ears up a while back & are owed a share - from bleepily yet grandly sonorous Cedric Stevens (playing in London a week tomorrow...), the growling, grinding serpent charm of On the Wrong Planet & Witxes' inscrutable, forceful crescendo to Saffron Slumber's glistening 'piano collage' & Raven's lopsided rasp (part of the recently featured SEQUENCE4). 

Cédric Stevens - The Siamese Level (track from the Syncopated Elevators Legacy LP)

On The Wrong Planet - Requiem & Decay

Dunes of Steel by witxes

raven - sleeping dogs lie


Saffron Slumber - Glass Variation (Delirium)

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Lend Me Four Sequence

More plenitude from Futuresequence - a fourth gargantuan freepilation (ahem) from the increasingly active magazine-cum-label (now up to six commercial releases). Like its predecessors, SEQUENCE4 is a somewhat overwhelming, sprawling 42-track smorgasbord (yes, fellow trainspotter, 2 did indeed have a sequence-upsetting extra serving: but anyway...).

With a slight bias to Canadian contributors - less a late acknowledgement of Canada Day, more a reflection of LMYE's 'taste' - here's what these ears & eyes grabbed on to on a first pass: intensely building Aquarelle, fuzzily bucolic Black Elk, divertingly clonky Le Berger, finely restrained Radere, aptly lyrical Nobuto Suda & darkly hovering Damian Valles (whose Nonparallel on Experimedia is even better & demands its own post...), plus videos of the finely filmic Loscil & Wolf Mapswarm washes

But with another four such octets on offer (Raven's chewy Sleeping Dogs Lie is in another post in preparation here, to take just one example...), plus change, this baggy monster clearly merits a deeper dig. 

Halocline from Daniel Hopkins

Wolf Maps - Arc from Bengalfuel & Friends

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

White horse

We can argue about whether the Bill Callahan songbook is worthy of it, but there can't be much dispute about the fastidious connoisseurship that already characterises Stephan Mathieu's new vinyl/FLAC-only label, Schwebung (down to details like its customised ringtone & the meaning of its lovely, apt name - "the beats producted by the simultaneous vibration of two sounds, especially in unisons & octaves when nearly, but not quite in tune"). This is true of his work more generally, of course - from the extraordinary care & precision of his live phonoharp placements, as Fluid Radio & The Liminal noted, to that shaping classics like Transcriptions (with Taylor Deupree) or A Static Place (the latter a mainstay of LMYE's Festive 50 + 50 of 2011's exceptional releases)...

A platform for Mathieu's "simultaneously vibrating" collaborations, as well as solo work, Schwebung starts life with an avant-pop encounter with Sylvain Chauveau & Adam Wiltzie. Callahan's "ballades" do little for these ears, but the treatments Mathieu & Chauveau (who has plenty of form in recontextualising pop - exhibits A & B) conjure are quite ravishing, if the the first two instalments from the again beautifully & aptly named PalimpsestChosen One Prince Alone In The Studio, are anything to go by - their stately, swelling shimmers in somewhat other-worldly, even disorienting, contrast to the songs. 

So even if Palimpsest seems like something of an outlier it is ultimately a sister to this year's revisit to Radioland (the scintillating Panoramica live workout with Caro Mikaleff on Line) or the pair's glorious-sounding & looking Constellation or even an absorbing smaller-scale piece like Re-composition from bouzouki from late last year. & so too will be Schwebung's next release (the reference to it seems to have disappeared, but it's with a Japanese artist...) since Mathieu is plainly incapable of making anything not hugely alluring

Mini films Design Detox _ two + download link from cabina

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.
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