e a r p e a c e : audio reviews0/r
bell five horizon hour
ernesto diaz-infante/bonnie kane
fennesz, o'rourke, rehberg
les hodgkins/james davis+bryan day
morceaux de machines
rattling wall collective
rocket from the tombs
steven r. smith
son of earth-flesh on bone/bell five horizon hour
(various artists) brokebunnie redbook audio compact disc compilation
(various artists) massdist comp too
(various artists) subtropics vol. 1: breath
(various artists) windswept trees and houses
- 0/r varied cd (12k)
second record from this trans-oceanic duo of nosei sakata (aka *0) & richard chartier. normally, i have avoided chartier's work due to its seeming reliance on high frequency sounds. i have sought out sakata's releases (0.0, 0.00, 0.000) for their stark beauty and distillation of contemporary electronic music perhaps contemporary in some ways to ryoji ikeda or cray. their previous collaboration was highly-regarded, but i have yet to hear it. this one is interesting, sounds like neither artist too much, and results in a very careful kind of tentatively cacophanous yet cautious exploration of sounds in a very clean, roomy and orderly manner.
- the abstractions sonic conspiracy cd (edgetone)
well, speak of the devil. this one dropped into the player awhile after i was listening thru the latest yoko ono, and here come the abstractions, featuring the whoops and vocal gymnastics of one jesse quatro. recorded live in the studio, it presents an impressive series of pretty short pieces. seems like they go thru a lot of ideas, without dragging any of them out too long, you get one set of 'em, then they move on to a completely different piece. a surprisingly listenable release from the pax/edgetone improv noise axis.
- arnoux the citizen cassette (seagull)
mostly sounding like a one-man & his 4-track project, but incorporating a good flow of ideas. everything from woodwinds & guitars to tape cut-ups & distorted cheapo keyboards gets put thru the wringer along the way. i like how the elements which are familiar to any of us who were doing 4-track works in the 80s-90s are expressed here in an individual and accomplished way. sounds like a lot of thought went into the arrangements & layout of the sounds here.
- m. behrens architectural commentaries cd (cmr)
- brain whores awful brain whores live cassette (no label)
i have no idea who this is, or even if brain whores is the correct name. it was a loose cassette left out in the freebie/flier shelf at royal oak's neptune records. usually items like this are nothing to remember, but this was. cut-up casio sounds, beeps, pings, tapes, noises scattered across both sides with no letup. kinda like a mix tape of whatever was lying within reach of the culprit(s?) responsible for this. i wouldn't mind if anyone who has any idea who this is would email me so that i can make that info available.
- joseph d'angelo rural hi-tech symphony cdr (ranch)
reissue on cdr of a 1987 cassette-only release that apparently saw some limited college radio airplay. joe d. was responsible for the classic diy lp by the departmentstore santas, and in the past months he has been kind & generous enuff to make available a variety of his back catalog. this is one of his only released projects as leader, the other being 2ooo's serf guitar. like that release, rural hi-tech symphony consist of mainly double-tracked guitars, many seemingly recorded backwards. it brings a smile to me to hear such work, very much continuing the standout guitar compositions which were also heard on the dss lp. i do not know of any vocals/lyrics that joe d. has performed since that record (perhaps some on the guy good & the decentones record), and there are none here. another mysterious, evocative, unique gem from a performer i have heard described as "the best unknown guitar player in america".
- deerhoof reveille cd (kill rock stars/5rc)
i enjoyed the last 3 or so songs i heard by them at all tomorrows parties in march. enuff to make me seek out a recording, but the first one i heard (1999's holdypaws) made me feel like i had made a mistake... i really didn't like it. got to hear this one on a road trip this summer, and my interest was revived. the appearances of continued discussion of this one on various yahoo lists confirms my original impression of this band. they have become able to wend their way into many listeners good graces. first listens can well be put off by what has been described as "overly precious indie vocals", but given the chance to insinuate into the ears, this can become a habit-forming listen.
- ernesto diaz-infante/bonnie kane mysterious planet cdr (sweetstuff/pax)
jeez, i don't know what to make of all the improv releases that have ernesto diaz-infante all over them that keep showing up at my door. guess i will have to wade thru 'em. mysterious planet is a duo live improv cdr put out by bonnie kane, i am guessing. she is credited with sax, flute & electronics, and this seems to be her showcase. she isn't bad, she makes a racket all over this with diaz-infante's contributions sounding like a framework for her to play in. its noisy, energetic, kinda all over the place, recorded well enough.
- fennesz, o'rourke, rehberg the return of fenn o'berg cd (mego)
second set of edited live powerbook improvisations by this trio, all of whom are well-known for their solo & group projects. keeps returning to my player. the source pieces of music are often left discernible in the mix, especially some string interludes that sure sound like jack nietsche's orchestrations from "expecting to fly". there is melodic sweetness offered, then corrupted with dissonant noises, everything keeps moving in & out of the mix. 4 tracks lasting 40 minutes, and it doesnt seem all that long as you listen to it. which says a lot about not wearing out its electronic welcome.
- les hodgkins/james davis + bryan day split cassette (seagull)
split cassette with side a being devoted to the duo/small ensemble acoustic improvisations of hodgkins & davis, primarily on clarinet & guitar, respectively, but augmented thru some overdubbing & a guest (colleen russell on turntable & bowed auto-harp). these pieces are not showy, concentrating on meditative explorations of their instruments. there were sections that caught my attention for longer periods, but mostly it went by while i did other things without causing any irritation. the bryan day solo side (b) worked mainly thru guitar improvisations with some strange sounds setting themselves apart, credited as sculptures, qeej (?), taishogoto and typwriter. i was more interested in the sculptural pieces than i was the solo guitar improvs. the seagull label continues to be highly active in the area of experimental/improvised noise artists.
- morceaux de machines liberum arbitrium cd (notype)
at first, comes off as a busy sounding cd combining lots of noisy electronics and various samplings of voices and what sounds like acoustic instruments. everything sounds broken up and jammed in together, without much mixing or blending on the first 4 tracks. suddenly, with track 5 ("prime shake"), the sounds seem to resolve & form a more coherent depiction of a moving landscape in sound. quite a difference, with direction and less broken up elements cluttering jumbled edges of the parts. instead, a streaming rush of bits of semi-obscured events passing thru, similar to audio sources fading in and out of range of a moving persons hearing. a tendency towards a slightly more sparse mix allows the sounds to reveal themselves better. a diverse cd which is impressive on the more developed pieces, and seemingly lost in the scatter on others.
- conlon nancarrow lost works, last works cd (other minds)
tracked this one down on the web after finding out that these "realizations" of nancarrow compositions were facilitated by none other than german-born seattle sound sculptor trimpin. what is heard hear are exercises in pushing the boundaries of what can be done in the temporal aspects of composition. in other words, he messes with the more commonly-accepted conceptions of what can be played in a certain amount of time. the scores were able to be played by a custom installation using midi & player piano technologies, resulting in densely rhythmic & humanly unplayable pieces of sonic art. nancarrow is also heard in an interview describing how he arranged to have his scores made on player piano rolls. a long-ignored expatriate american original who has only begun to get his long overdue recognition within the last decade after a lifetime of idiosyncratically pursuing a unique and difficult vision.
- nautical almanac cassette (heresee)
i am not sure if this one has another title, maybe someone from heresee will be able to tell me. contains chunks of 2 recent shows with the core nautical almanac duo augmented by chiara giovando("la house party") & commodian ("congress theater back dressing rm"). i have seen na 3 times now, and they have sounded brilliantly different each time. hearing this gives a chance to focus on the sounds generated without the performance visual antics, and what a grand mess it is, with bent drum machines & keyboards customized into hands-on manipulable sprays of arrhythmic sound. the guest vocalists add a point of attraction to to diverge from. also contains a snippet preview bonus field recording of the heresee "sounds of baltimore". at this point, anything on heresee is a must-have, imhofwiw.
- neon hunk secrets of the hunk v:2 cdr (meowsus)
- neon hunk neyan honkies cassette (heresee)
i bought the cdr after seeing neon hunk live at the cpop (reviewed this issue), liking the homemade ziplock bag packaging with its painted on (silk screen?) art & inserts. this recording was a set of lo-fi analog keyboard & drum pieces in short, basic instrumental form. i didn't hear any of the vocalizations they did live, unless they were the intermittent squeals of feedback, which would be true to their live sound. a likeable recording, but lacking some of the humor and visual/vocal interplay they displayed live. maybe they were trying too hard to keep their secret?
the neyan honkies cassette seems to have a freshness, more of what i witnessed live, in 2 15 minutes sides, it runs thru distorted vocalization exchanges, brief drum/analog synth songs and pointed improvised-sounding sound investigations. this was recorded live, with only slightly thinner sound compared to the cdr, it also has that friendly fiendish chummily assertive feel i experienced, complete with after-gig audience banter. released on the nautical almanac-related heresee label. the title even sounds like a twig-ism. cool glued-on rewritable surface like the kids might pick up at the dollar store.
- phill niblock g2, 44+/ x2 cd (moikai)
this cd has been on the "forthcoming" list for several years, and was once set to be titled guitars, too, for four. the original composition for 4 droning, minimalist guitars on tape has been further added to by jim o'rourke and kevin drumm who each created their own mix of the piece. the result is a longform subtly changing guitar soundscape reminiscent of rafael toral, tho somewhat more dense as a result of the multiple layers involved. niblock has been working in a similar vein for many years, usually picking a specific instrument then pushing its tonal aspects in extended drones and multi-tracked layers until his vision of the instrument becomes unavoidably apparent. this cd sounds somehow less substantial in any context other than a deliberate presentation at very loud (or very soft) volumes. not for the usual listening modes, but compelling.
- yoko ono blueprint for a sunrise cd (capitol)
yoko has done enuff work in both conceptual art & conceptual sound that i am open to giving a listen to see what she comes up with, especially if the cd floats into my sights cheap. the last thing by her that i found recommendable was the rising mixes cd (still disappointed that i could never get the enhanced portion of that to work). i am kinda sensitive to the serious amount of bashing that relentlessly comes her way, most recently by julian lennon... sigh... i feel really bad for julian on that, because i think he comes off like a variation on the pete best/cynthia twist "coulda/shoulda/woulda" whine. this outing here is another new york sessioneer recording like starpeace, with yoko doing her rap over a slickly produced middle-of-the-road set of music. it is kinda like just adding another rung to the ladder she has been on for a good long while, and she does deserve to become conservative musically if she wants to in her dotage, it is hard not to miss the renegade fluxus-esque challenge of her earlier works... the ones that dared you to "get it" or reject it, but either way, didn't leave you apathetic.
- pour,rip...no! lp (rhizome)
quiet, mostly acoustic loner-style recording that brings up comparisons to jandek. there are some lo-fi prog-indie touches, keyboards, drum segments, etc, but still i am betting that the auteur behind this has an extensive collection of the corwood releases. the question is, is that a good thing? if it is true, as curt cobain said, that jandek is "not pretentious, but only pretentious people like his music", then what of someone who emulates him on record? i am torn. the vocals are the opposite of endearing, making neil young sound like pavorotti, but there is feeling and care in the compositions and construction of this. seems intended to become one of those loner artifacts, like twenty six. i keep listening to this, and hear glimpses of an opening here & there. i wouldn't discard it yet, but i can't see myself pulling this out on my own.
- rattling wall collective slide one cdr (phonophore)
- rattling wall collective slide two cdr (phonophore)
thanx to chris p. for telling me about this lansing-based band aka the rattling wall collective in dutch. it was funny, when i contacted them about obtaining something to listen to, they asked "how did you hear of us? we don't really do any promotion." i have yet to get to lansing to see them live, but i do plan to before too long. the 1st of the 2 cdrs, slide one contains 2 long tracks totalling about 35 minutes. there are strong elements of very loosely euro-style improv, but there are also some synth/electronic noises that expand the vocabulary. very understated, consistent with a very self-willed design to do it their way, and to enjoy it. they move along with rather gentle and inobtrusive sounds, such that in those times when their edges surface in a more obvious way, i am surprised. i like being surprised, it happens so rarely in music after awhile. their web site (www.phonophore.freeservers.com does a good job of offering a thought or two on what their angle is. apparently, it includes regular gigging, a variety of collaborators & instruments, and a relaxed approach to the "biz". admirable. i am finding more depth and substance to their recordings with each listen. still want to see them live, tho.
the slide two cdr adds the credit "remixed by fuzzy molecule. i have no idea who that is, but mr. molecule's rework of rwc comes in the form of one 16 minute + track entitled "reverb is a lie". the remixing, from what i can tell, consists of some cut & paste editing, as this one seems to be consistent with the prevalent style, a longish-form improv with a variety of instruments, including guitar, electronics & reeds. the edits are sudden & offer no connecting motif, instead contrasting bits of rwc playing.
- rocket from the tombs the day the earth met the rocket from the tombs cd (smog veil/hearpen)
cleveland 1975 as the epicenter of a rock counter-revolution, witnessed here by the oft-mythologised seminal band that spawned pere ubu & the dead boys. these tracks have been around, released here & there in more illegitimate forms than not. these documents are primitively-recorded, but much shines thru. peter laughner, sometimes described as the midwest's answer to lou reed is a strong presence, david "crocus behemoth" thomas is at the very beginning of a career which persists successfully (reference: the disastrodome event scheduled for 2oo3 at ucla) & gene "cheetah chrome" o'conner provides a strong foil to the seriousness of the former two. craig bell also a strong figure in rftt. the recordings are raw, energetic, captured in the confusion & vigor of youthful naivete and ambition. the paths previously trod by the seeds, mc5 & the velvet underground are summoned-up. interesting, to hear a different and quite proto-modern use of 60s sounds. i still find the early pere ubu to be more of a must-listen, but for anyone who loves those recordings, this one is a necessary stop.
- rudis/custodio/diaz-infante crashing the russian rennaissance cd (pax)
trio improv-noisy recording featuring lx rudis (who seems to be the composer/leader here) on matrix 12 (synth), andre custodio on darbuka, tom-tom and "line 6 [green pod]" (whatever that is) & the ubiquitous (at least it seems so) ernesto diaz-infante on acoustic guitar, violin & voice. the first 3 tracks are listed as "college radio-ready edits", so there is a desired audience there, which i have long ago lost contact with. the following 23 tracks comprise a single composition "overthruster", which is primarily driven by rudis' synth parts, occasionally punctuated by diaz-infante's chadbourne-esque guitar breakouts & vocalizations and custodio's more integrated percussions. the result is kind of a space-jazz-improv hybrid. it has that all over the map (& sometimes irritating) feel of much of eugene chadbourne's improvised work. the downside to that, is that to many people, it just sounds like the musicians can't play. i labor under no such misapprehension, but i do have a hard time following this for long. i think it would be a fun show to see, as it is evident that there is a sense of humor at play. more onslaught from the hyperactive energetic left coast school of improv artists.
- steven r. smith lineaments cd (emperor norton)
a very strong work by this thuja member, which caught my attention in a more immediate way than did the last thuja cd, ghost plants. smith plays all of the instruments here, including piano, strings, droning guitar textures. there is a hint of velvet underground in the mood here. this could very well be soundtrack music. the music seems to rise up out of the speakers, probably due to the keen sense of building & tension in the arrangements of the songs. melodic rising and falling phrases and washes of sound cascade throughout lineaments. an amazing sense of the organic in the way this is put together. highly recommended.
- son of earth-flesh on bone/bell five horizon hour split cassette (apostasy)
- bell five horizon hour well cdr (apostasy)
- aaron rosenblum the hills are really homes cdr (hank the herald angel)
got to see these folks at the cpop this summer (see review) & was impressed. son of earth-flesh on bone is a trio of matt krefting, john shaw & aaron rosenblum, while bell five horizon hour is the duo of matt krefting & aaron rosenblum. all 3 of these recordings were picked up at the show. these same personalities also run a couple of labels (apostasy recordings & hank the herald angel). both bands on the split cassette work with improvised guitar-based sounds, tho some of the quiet dynamics of their live perfromance are lost in the lo-fi tape hiss here.
the bell five horizon hour cdr is comprised of 2 long tracks recorded live and crediting only guitars. lots of feedback, rumbling sounds of 6 strings being massaged. thankfull (for me) they seem to stay around the low end of the frequency spectrum. good use of a veriety of drone-ish sounds with interjections of white noise washes of bell-tones. i have to give them credit for continuously changing the elements of sound, it is apparent that some sensitivity was being applied in the performance. the second part gets louder, and in doing so seems to have to resort more to familiar improv-noise guitar cliches. i appreciate the homespun recycled packaging.
very brief (approx. 17 minutes) 5 song outing by son of earth-flesh on bone member aaron rosenblum, in homemade and self-printed packaging, on his own label. a recurring motif of field recordings unifying a set of guitar instrumentals played on a style much reminiscent of the late john fahey. and when i think of fahey, i am not referring to the plethora of nuuuuwage showoff fingerpickers, i am thinking of the expressive eccentric fahey who delighted in personal expression. some of jim o'rourke's instrumentally-oriented works on drag city also seem a reference point, maybe even too much so (track 2 definitely). i preferred the pieces with some electric guitar textures & field recording elements, as the sole-ly instrumental stuff was somewhat derivative.
- spam allstars ¡fuacata! live cd (elegua)
more evidence of elegua records' immersion into south floridas afro-cuban fusion culture. has some pointed tape/spoken word bits that lead into a smooth blend of horns, percussion, guitar, turntables, which suggests dancing & having a fun time. the arrangements are well articulated & the recording is crisp and clear. a real departure from much of what i listen to, and a welcome one. unfortunately, the spanish content is lost on me. i have to say that i am impressed by how this sounds better with repeated listenings, as there are a lot of nice musical touches, which pushes this beyond a genre exercise and into just a damn good recording.
- thuja ghost plants cd (emperor norton)
- thuja thuja museum #1 3" cdr box (jewelled antler)
- thuja thuja museum #2 3" cdr box (jewelled antler)
ghost plants is the one of these you can search out. a full-length cd of the gently endearing quiet improvised-sounding field-like recordings of a collective who takes on various forms (see reviews of steven r. smith, the windswept trees and houses comp + others to come). the pieces are instrumental exporations of the sounds of guitar, small-sounding keyboards & percussion that seems indirect & distanced from the rest of the group. ghost plants contains more focused short pieces, while the thuja museum #1 & 2 have more extended, yet somehow more immediate pieces. all of the packaging of jewelled antler collective works is noteworthy for the inclusion of organic materials, often beneath the tray of the cd jewel case. the 2 museum boxes take this further, with a variety of materials included within a theme (wood/tree/forest materials for #1, shells/beach/ocean for #2). i am impressed by the care & thought that goes into the presentation, both in packaging & in the sounds. it demonstrates an aesthetic approach that goes beyond the needs of a imitativeness or casual business/selling and moves into the thoughtfullness expressiveness in a totality of the recording, listening & handling of the work. for more info, see www.3acrefloor.com/jewelled-antler.htm
- usaisamonster vii citizens of the universe cdr (massdist)
well, after seeing repeated mentions of this band online as being astounding/stupendous/essential don't-miss action, i tracked down their releases thru massive distribution & ordered up a double pawful of cdrs (at a damn reasonable price, as i recall), including the double cdr comp massdist comp too. this is the most recent of their releases, tho i happily copped everything that was in print. also available as an lp, tho the news section of their site sez it is sold out, but i am sure if you try hard, you can track something down. makes good sense in vinyl form, as there are 2 distinct sides here, side a ("citizens side...") is 6 songs in varying impressive styles, including neo-punk-prog a la lightning bolt on "dookie monster", hardcore-influenced rock, a protest folk-ish song "empire" and some invigorating guitar/drums based work. i liked the sound of the vocal harmonic contrasts in "snowball earth". a powerfully put together & diverse side. side b ("universe side") consists of 2 longish pieces that are more complex, but less arresting than the shorter elements of the other side. a superb lp.
- w§å geeks baring grifts cdr (bai mei guei wang)
This compilation begins with strong base and is very busy. Sounds like the band room after the teacher leaves and everyone plays their own theme. It would be alot of fun being involved in the playing, but it leaves the listener wanting something else..... Black Box makes you wonder where the Chips Ahoy cookies are..... Geschlechtmobel is kind of cool, but my favorite is Omega3 with it's upbeat New Age melody mixed with a jumble of musical styles. I can't hear the flute without memories of the pleasure it gave me presenting it to the musician.
This CD allows the artist to continue on his path of creating music for his own artistic enjoyment with out imposing the desires of listeners.~ Aluda4 ~ Allikat
- (various artists) brokebunnie redbook audio compact disc compilation cdr (brokebunnie)
23 track selection of tracks from http://broke.servergirl.net/, in compact disc form, as opposed to their usual online mp3 format. i heartily endorse and encourage freely distributed works like those on this disc & their web site, which encourages downloading and creating your own copies via cdr & printer. i think we can be assured of seeing more works distributed in this manner in the near future. the sounds are credited to a variety of performers, but could almost be the work of a very few people using disparate names. most cuts are drum machine beats with extravagant processing creating the original textures and tonal variations. as usual, i prefer the cuts that go light on the beats and heavy on the low-end sounds, such as photon ghoul and sistrum.
- (various artists) massdist comp too 2cdr (massdist)
to do this compilation justice would require an entire web page devoted to the 32 bits and violations of the peace scattered accross two silk-screen adorned cdrs. i really like this one, it always causes my ears to perk up when i have it in my 5cd changer set on shuffle, makes me go "what-who was dat?" the tickler excerpt is a standout, along with the grreat neon hunk track "abra cadabra" & the new mellenium string band. the frequent very short (some under 10 seconds) bits succeed in breaking things up. a lot of variety here, from a string trio to country-folk pisstakes to some of the big names that permeate the current undergound music szene, such as usaisamonster, forcefield, lightning bolt & wolf eyes. highly recommended, lots more available from the folks at massive distro at www.massivedistribution.com. the only complaint i would have is that the wesley willis call-in piece was pretty weak & contrived, but then, so is the whole willis bandwagon. this is one of those collections that i think will still stand up years into the future as a snapshot of this era, and i won't be surprised to see it become a collector scum artifact.
- (various artists) subtropics vol. 1: breath cd (elegua)
compilation of live archival recordings from miami's subtropics experimental music festival, spanning the decade from 1991-2oo1. interesting combination of overtly arty approaches with a definite immersive flavor of latin american culture. another facet is the political undertones, while not stridently done, some of the pieces clearly consistently address human/societal relationship issues. the standouts for me were needle and sony mao plus the john cage voice piece. another high quality unique release from elegua records.
- (various artists) windswept trees and houses cdr (jewelled antler)
compilation that represents a cross-section of the varied lineups, side-projects & musical-artistic approaches of the members of the jewelled antler collective, plus special offerings from like-minded kindred spirits, friends & relations. this release has been touted as one of their favorites of the collective. a very relaxed, or subdued set, with tensions sublimated into sustaining sounds, meaningful notes & un-selfconsciously honest voices. i think a reasonable comparison would be to the velvet underground, especially suggested by entlang's "lisa", which uses the familiar prominent viola with female vox & rising tides of guitar distortion. many of these cuts credit recording locations, because this "field recording" approach makes the environmental sound part of the compositions/performances. overall, there is a very morose feeling which some might label "twee", but i prefer to find thoughtful & contemplative. here is the link again: www.3acrefloor.com/jewelled-antler.htm
~ b . w i l d e r e d (except where noted)
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