French improviser David Papapostolou has just started his new record label, Adjacent Recordings, and Leaving Room (Adjacent001), his duo with Daniel Jones) is the debut release. “Working as a small structure allows me to take more risks than established labels and the idea is to document the activity of young and emergent musicians in the local improv scene,” reports the man they call ‘The Papster’ from his London home in E8, in between buckets of hot black coffee. “Since I moved to London I have started playing with many amazing people whose music is often under-documented,” he adds, like some latter-day Bernard Stollmann. The ultra-slow and extremely quiet music on this CD, created from a mix of very discreet sounds made with live electronics and acoustic guitar, has already attracted the ears of the presenters of the Audition radio show on Resonance FM. “Adjacent003 is being planned and only exists on paper so far,” David further informs us, “as the group it might document (a sextet this time) hasn’t played a sound yet.”
Leighton Craig is a Brisbane musician and has made a pleasant keyboard CD for Room 40. There are 13 short tracks on 11 Easy Pieces (RM424), all of them realised with cheap Casios and similar old-school devices, recorded at home on a four-track. While some pieces are simply inconsequential doodles, at least two tracks manage to compress the idea of Philip Glass into a three-minute ditty, while the ten-minute ‘Threnody’ summons a dark atmosphere in short order using minimal means and two HP4 batteries. The label has also released Sui-Gin (RM428), a solo CD of annoyingly bitty electronica by Japanese player Ueno who is a member of Tenniscoats. He did it by processing his 12-string guitar through a ring modulator.
Smiling Through my Teeth is a beautifully presented CD and book, with the musical side of the collection put together by Vicki Bennett, who’s a Sound Projector favourite in long standing for her work as People Like Us. It includes a few early ‘novelty’ records from Raymond Scott and Spike Jones, but the bulk of the CD is made up of contributions from assorted well-known (and some lesser-known) names in the world of extreme avant and experimental music, and the selections (if lined up in a row, as they are here) do indeed create an escapade of jet-black humour scaped from the laughing lips of the lunatic fringe: step forward Nihilist Spasm Band, Otomo and Eye, Christian Marclay, Lucas Abela, John Oswald, and Xper.Xr. Plus of course a couple of cuts by Nurse With Wound performing in his vaguely nutsoid cut-up mode. In fact most of Bennett’s selections reflect aspects of her own chosen way of working – layering, editing, turntabling, and the collaging of an eclectic selection of ‘funny’ vinyls. I’ve got mixed feelings about the deeply intellectual essay written by Kembrew McLeod (once read, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is smiling, let alone laughing), but the red skull cover graphic and anatomical engravings on the inside make this an attractive proposition from Sonic Arts Network. Few people can match Bennett’s skill for setting forth warped humour laced with a deep undercurrent of constant menace, to chilling effect. If played end to end, I think this 32-track CD can certainly guarantee an unsettling and mixed experience which will slowly turn your cheery smile into a rigor sardonicus.
Lastly, must maketh mention for this rich and grind-worthy compilation of Swedish avant noise’n’nuttery called Gothenburg 08 (FB006), from the Fang Bomb label. Anything with a pelican on the front cover demands your immediate attention, even if the musicians and the compilers may be trying to make some totally unrelated point as they utilise the image of this most noble creature from the avian kingdom. ‘None but we have feet like fins’, according to the song put in their beaks by Edward Lear, ‘and lovely leathery throats and chins!’ However, enter this 10-track dungeon of doom, and you’ll be shrouded in grim and threatening noises from Anders Dahl, The Skull Defekts, Sewer Election, Porn Sword Tobacco, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, and Tsukimono with his amazing ‘Moan Jar’. Packed with excellent surreal and modernistic updates on the old ‘industrial’ school of sound-assaultage, this CD promises you ‘the actual sounds of the city’.