So, with CD player newly repaired and listening once more free from the shadow of equipment failure let us see if this newly de-stressed set-up has had a benevolent effect on my reviews:
Let’s consider Alessandro Bosetti and Chris Abrahams matt varnished digifile opus We Who Had Left (MIKROTON RECORDINGS CD 19).
Instrumentally it’s all about piano and electronics, approached with an appealing sensuousness which touches on such worlds as jazz and sound poetry. Chris plays piano in The Necks, I gather. I haven’t actually heard The Necks, but the internet told me that and I thought I’d save you opening any extra tabs by passing on the information.
The first track, ‘We also dress today’, doesn’t give too much away, a spare but approachable construct consisting of the piano riffing on one note, loose-connection bass pulse coyly flirting with being a kick-drum and a sprinkling of pattering, looped polyrhythm. The second track, ‘We arrange our home’, is more representative of what the duo have to offer: light, silvery runs up and down the keyboard backed with electronics, in this case an electronic wandering bassline shadows the piano while breathy samples which sound to me like down-tuned whistles are mixed into a gauzy background wash, giving a hovering flute-like exotica tinge. In this Exotic Forest you half expect some Martin Denny birdcalls to start up as you pass the next tree. It’s a coolly strange environment, like Ballard’s crystal jungle relocated to Tahiti and populated with silent Gauguin beauties.
‘We cannot Imagine’ introduces vocals, softly spoken and Italian-accented, slowly repeated and unpicked phrases unravel over the course of ten minutes whilst they are tentatively wafted into song by gentle puffs of piano and the quiet electric whistle-flutes, floating softly around the listening space. Quite a lovely effect, very delicately performed. Bellisimo.
Sound-wise this isn’t quite the Doobie Brothers, but there is a certain smoothness, more evident in some tracks than others, a quietly polished finish you might actually expect of an ambient album. However, when Chris Abrahams strikes or rather caresses a chord or note, ably counterpointed by Alessandro Bossetti, it is mighty enjoyable whatever burnishing methods may or may not have been applied.
‘When they are overhead’ starts a little like Charlemagne Palestine writ medium accompanying a clog-dance and Google party thrown by Santa’s elves. It certainly has the potential to achieve elevation and hits a nicely rolling green-ness towards the end. If you’ve ever seen the BBC Krautrock documentary where Iggy Pop drills a coconut (a fine cultural moment) while describing the music of Neu! you will recall he uses the phrase ‘psychedelic pastoralism’ while sunset silhouetted pylons recede field by field as seen through a car window. My pleasantly wandering mind was reminded as this track progressed of a similar sensation to that evoked by this scene.
Our journey finishes with a cover of a Bill Evans tune, Waltz for Debby. Debby is ceremoniously draped in a belligerent sinusoidal lap-top as our romantic Italian croons and serenades the album away over a seductive tinkle of the old ivories. That’s amoré!
Ein Fröhliches Lied Auf Den Lippen Den Wandersmann Kann Nichts Erschüttern
NO LABEL MC CASSETTE
What have we here? A short but sweet cassette (the mini hi-fi system which includes the aforementioned CD player also has a tape player, conveniently), two 10 minute-ish sides. Seit ein: blind munching of psychotropic worms, bursts of computer overload, pitch shift metallic glissandi, the frog chorus and Michael Caine’s heel hitting the concrete in a deserted East Berlin basement, unt so on. Crude methods yield deceptively crude results. Vignettes change like clicking the button on one of those red slide-viewers with the slides on a carboard disc that you used to get. In the background those worms are munching in the dark, converting rainforest decay into putrid phosphorescence. A lesson we can all surely look to apply in our daily lives.
The insect life returns in the second of our sides wherein a flea-bitten, moth-ridden, valve-driven, ragged organ vamp is nibbled on the toes by beetles. Uneasy reposes occur, always while the mandibular chatter soothes away those aches of the day. A muffled noise like a plucked double bass loops away somewhere under the floor like Poe’s tell-tale heart thumping in a bath of mellow vibes. The beetles (John, Paul, Ringo and Jaws) organise a hunt, paint their concave carapaces carmine and set out in slow motion across a shifting carpet, their horns echoing lugubriously. Enchanting and finger-snapping, needless to say.
All in all, very relaxing and swinging and suitable for your next cocktail evening or canasta party if James Last Non Stop Dancing fails to deliver the goods.