The Best Way to Travel

Kotra & Zavoloka & Dunaewsky69
Kallista
UKRAINE KVITNU 27 CD (2012)

Here is an exotic Eastern European electronic-errr, some sort of luridly packaged three-way hymn to Krakow. It is not sponsored by the city fathers, as far as I can tell, but there is some university connection in there. 24 tracks in just over an hour, alternating between the three artists, although there’s not much to distinguish individual contributions – or, being more generous, it is coherent in its electro-eclectism. Anyway, the whole thing is a mish-mash of various cranky electronics, Geiger counter clicks and aggravated synths being maltreated, sounding on the whole a lot like corrupt mp3s of someone pretending to be Aphex Twin layered with more obsessive-compulsive glitching played by laptops plugged into the wrong voltage. Someone’s probably stuffed MSG in the USB port as well. There’s a rather ramshackle air and fluctuating levels, gratifyingly antisocial frequencies sticking out at inopportune angles.

Sometimes our artists do not sound particularly in control of the electronics (which in fact include custom-built oscillators, according to the packaging). Who wants control anyway, though? Montage and jump-cut, cheesy break-beats and thick melodies cut out or fizzle into corrosive goo as soon as they start. Cumbersome and ragged-cornered takes on collage with field recordings collide with detournings of techno-technique. Which, considering I have been known to complain about overly slick production in electronic music, should please me to some degree.

This does a fairly convincing job of conjuring up an imagined sensory electro-magnetic overload somewhere in a sprawling metropolis, mobile phones and the sticky floor of a bus as you pass through an unfamiliar neighbourhood full of signs advertising who knows what, strange juxtapositions, olfactory collisions, aural chewing gum stuck to a tourist map of the mind, all coloured in with some highlighters. Not in the lines, either.

I have never holidayed in Krakow, but thanks to this garishly packaged lump o’ sound I feel I have, now, and I can confidently report that the streets are paved with energy drink, it’s built of leaking glowsticks, and giant bears lurch up at you from stinking alleyways, displaying their lantern-like gullets before swimming away again with a flick of the tail. Hooray! Boney M would be proud.

Joda Clément
The Narrows
BELGIUM UNFATHOMLESS U09 CD (2011)

In which we encounter a low frequency drone with mid-range textural flecks to keep you dancing derived from field recordings of behind sheds, some fences etc. This is a little like lying above a wide, slowly moving, conveyor belt which has been scattered with lumps of rock and rubble (mostly, say, from the size of a small potato to a little larger than a fist), whilst a feather duvet is draped down on you from above, lying over you and the conveyor belt, its end dragging over the rocks as they trundle past you, meanwhile keeping you insulated from much else apart from the rumble of the conveyor mechanism and the soft clack of stone on stone. There’s a bit of twitching of limbs in the last seven minutes, an adjustment in recumbent position, and then everything fades out at 35 minutes before it can outstay its welcome. I must say I spent a refreshing half hour on the carpet with my eyes closed to this. If I was to be critical I could say that the background drone which provides the ground for most of the rubbley noises was a little too obtrusive bass-wise to effect complete relaxation. It is also overall a bit clean and tidy, as far as drones go, for my liking, although there are moves towards abrasion in the surrounding scrapes. Handy hint: this could be mitigated by listening on a portable system with crappy speakers and no bottom end.

Kotra
Dunaewsky69
Zavoloka
Kvitnu
Joda Clément
Unfathomless

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