D’Incise from Switzerland has sent a nice CDR Les Lendemains Étendus (AUDIO ACTIVITY AACDR01) using tiny little shards of crystal-like percussive sounds, ingeniously assembled in mosaic-fashion to produce pleasing effects. Some of these sounds may be samples using the work of Diatribes and L’Ironie Du Son, who are local improvising combos. The Audioactivity label believes in filesharing and Creative Commons, and in time this release may be available through download.
Another from Inam records, this by Terminal 23: The Melting of Ice (INAM RECORDS 31), an EP full of sonorous and primordial droning effects. It sounds such solitary and lonely music that I was surprised to find a trio of young men from Georgia made this, using their tone generators, home-made electronics and effects.
1001 songs of eBay (CRÓNICA 043-2009) is credited to Ubermorgen.Com && Nussbaumer. Total computer-process music, this has been fashioned by allowing robots to interact with the eBay database and using whatever data is fetched back to make into digital music. Believe it or not, there appears to be over two days’ worth of this material, and should you feel inclined you can download it all for free from www.cronicaelectronica.org. All I can hear is routine and monotonous disco music played by machines; it became grating and annoying in short order.
Shift is a Swedish electronic noise project now based in the UK I think. His Bulk (UNREST PRODUCTIONS UNPRCD 04 / SILKEN TOFU STX. 10) is a heavy and relentless construction, true to its title which suggests a bulky order of concrete blocks to be deposited firmly on the chest of the hapless listener. Starting off as twisted analogue drones, each track soon builds up into an intolerable wall of dense noise.
A gargantuan four-CD set called An Anthology of Chinese Experimental Music 1992-2008 (SUB ROSA SR 265) seems very promising; it’s an area of music I know precisely nothing about (and I’m not too well informed about the country’s history either). This handsomely-presented set from Sub Rosa was compiled by Li Chin Sung (also called Dickson Dee) and arrives with two booklets, one of which contains detailed artist biographies and the other comprising an overview essay written by Zbigniew Karkowski and Yan Jun. The title of said essay may be useful, narrowing the field to ‘Non-Academic’ music in the experimental area, suggesting that these 48 artists are largely working outside of Universities and other zones of mainstream support. A cursory listen of disc one reveals glimpses of some pretty convincing forays with subtle forms of laptop and electronic music, though so far everything has a very solemn and dour tone.
Armpit are a New Zealand duo (Clayton Noone and Sugar Jon) who have been making their amiable, disorganised works for some time; Tron (LAST VISIBLE DOG LVD 119) is the first I ever heard from them. It’s just the kind of noise I enjoy; lo-fi, open-ended, fun, chaotic and not too hard on the ears, with lots of space for the listener to put themselves. What’s more the duo can also pick up their distorted guitars and bash out a primitive rock anthem with yawping vocals, which they frequently do. This release seems to include the entirety of their Anaru EP (recordings from 1996 to 2001) as part of the compilation. Fine stuff!
On same label, Kristallivikta (LVD 130) by AAN Meets Eyes Like Saucers, whereon Jeffrey K (of Eyes Like Saucers) meets up with the Finnish duo of Jani Hirvonen and Jari K. They recorded their output in Helsinki last January. The languid strumming of the Finns seems to be a perfect match for Jeffrey K’s spaced-out keyboard work; this is like an acoustic version of The Cosmic Jokers, played twice as slow. This would be perfect listening for the warm days of summer (if we’re going to get any in the UK this August, which now seems doubtful).
Hybernation is an English sound artist, who has made Greyhound Park (REDNETIC RECORDINGS RNMA001), a 20-minute recording of a shopping park in Southend-on-Sea. It has some poignant memories for him, as he fondly remembers the old Greyhound stadium which was torn down to make way for yet another supermarket. His ruminations on the ravages of time are expressed by the few moments of sad music at the end of the piece, which are a riposte to the banal murmurings of the sedated shoppers going about their business.
Antoine Chessex and Arnaud Rivière have a split EP (LE PETIT MIGNON LPM01) which Staalplaat are handling in Europe. Two sides of completely insane noise by French maniacs, featuring unhinged electronics, sqwawking saxophones and wailing men. Possibly bad for your health. 300 copies, pressed in clear vinyl, and wrapped in a sleeve of hideous artwork by Mounir Jatoum. Fantastic! Released later this month, so be sure to snag a copy of this whooping monster.
Teho Teardo‘s Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit (JAPANAPART RECORDS JAP003) is an elegant statement, featuring two sides of precise and measured string compositions with a very elegiac mood. This Italian composer has strong avant links and has done soundtrack work (which does show in the way this music builds and sustains a mood). Cover art seems to be saying something about the unforgiving nature of animal wildlife.
Astro Black is the duo of Kirk Mingle and Chr S, and they’ve concocted a little gem which asks the question Is Love The Blood Of The Universe? (TONOMETER TONOM081). I love the A side of this orange seven-inch single, which is a dense construction of layered sample noise creating a palpable mood of imminent doom. Many Danish musicians are credited on the back cover; perhaps they were sampled, or their acoustic contributions have been washed-out in the torrential masses of this elaborate composition. 300 copies in a picture sleeve. Very good.
From same label, a 10-inch LP pressed in clear vinyl and a wraparound cover; Glöggerne and Martin Klapper with Dr. Chadbourne (TONOM091) which is mostly a trivial bit of fun and malarkey in the studio, created by Eugene Chadbourne and three loopy Europeans. Chadders doesn’t seem to have his heart in it, somehow. The usual mix of traditional bluegrass songs with chaotic noise-fests, made using toys and junk.
Four new limited press LPs on the excellent art label Entr’Acte all have the same generic white sleeve, often provided with coloured inserts with notes by the artist which explain all. Ian Middleton‘s Time Building (E66) is very clean and clear analogue drones made on a Korg. He hears simple repetitions in nature which influence his sound. hamaYôko‘s SHASO-train window- (E68) is a puzzling mix of electronic burrs, moaning vocals and field recordings; like the soundtrack to an imaginary (and very strange) art movie. Nothing seems to fit together right. Bidules 1-9 (E64) by Jacques Beloeil is nice minimal disco music made with synths and tinny little drum machines, partying like it’s Cologne in 1999. Nokalypse‘s rather ghastly record is jarring electronic dischords which drone on endlessly, perhaps in an attempt to recreate the sensations induced by lines of futile and pointless thinking; I deduce that much from the title Repeated in an Indefinitely Alternating Series of Thoughts (E73), which is like a mini-essay on psychology. Jointly released by Absurd Music in Greece as A78, this unsettling work was realised by the musician Themistoklis Pantelopoulos.
Speaking of Greece, we got a package from John Pallas in Athens this June, filled with releases on the Triple Bath label. Haven’t heard them yet, but I can guess they represent all that is good and interesting in the fields of underground Greek electronic and electro-acoustic music just now. Names represented are Michael Chocholak, Xedh, Thelmo Cristovam, and Tzesne. There is also Kiko C. Esseiva with Francisco Meirino, whose Concert à L’Oblò is released on the Greek Echomusic label. Kiko is of course from Lausanne (not Greece) and we very much enjoyed his composition Sous Les Étoiles for the Hinterzimmer label over there, so I may be visiting this one in due course.