Héctor Rey is the owner of Nueni Records, who sent us his label’s first release After (NUENI #000) from Berlin in January 2014, though he also has a base in Bilbao. Maybe he picked up the “Anti-Copyright” approach from Bilbao’s famed dissident activist, Mattin; at any rate he encourages sharing and downloading of all of the content he’s produced to date. After is a contemporary improv team-up featuring Ilia Belorukov along with three players who I think are all Polish – the percussionist Harpakahylo, the saxophonist Patryk Lichota, and Kim Nasung (i.e. Mateusz Bakala), who is one of those genre-straddling sound artists interested in electro-acoustic, noise and field recordings but on this occasion settles for playing the guzheng. Result – 15 minutes of very good rough-edged and lively acoustic tumbles through semi-hostile terrain, where every sound stands out crisply as a stalk of crunchy celery and every detail of the topography of the landscape can be felt by your sensitive bare feet. None of your over-processed ambient drones here…in fact that’s a style of music which Héctor Rey personally deplores, to the extent that he explicitly requests that no submissions of this nature be sent to his door – an attitude which does him credit.
Luminance Ratio are an Italian four-piece who have been releasing an intriguing series of seven-inch splits lately, doing so with Oren Ambarchi, Steve Roden and Yannis Kyriakides. These were released under the joint impress of Fratto 9 and Kinky Gabber. Their Reverie (BOCIAN RECORDS bcLR) album is a showcase for their contemplative, slightly drifty mode of working with guitars, electronics and percussion, producing a somewhat more approachable and less mannered version of Polwechsel. Their somnolent track titles – ‘Comatose’, ‘Before The Dawn’, ‘In Dreams’ – are clear indexes of their underlying preoccupation with Morpheus and all his doings, and the semi-melodic syrupy music drapes itself over your body like a fine silken sheet. All the pleasant Slumberland cuts are arranged on side one, while side two exhibits a vague darkening of the mood, realised through more distortion, vaguely disquieting background sounds, and a general uncertainty in the playing. Nuits Blanches A Suivre…from January 2014.
Drag your carcass through a splendid set of dark ambient lo-fi experimental noise drone on the album Blacked Out Passages (VISCERAL MEDIA RECORDS vmr009), a dank and scarifying broth produced by the husband and wife team who call themselves Lost Trail. So much atmosphere on here you could cover a 20-acre farm in deep fog and still have enough left over to create a thick pea-souper in a Sherlock Holmes TV episode. Chilling use of voice samples they do make; I myself have a real soft spot for this sort of lost and forlorn music where recorded and distorted voices struggle to make their messages heard, murmuring like ghosts in a swirling mist. Zachary Corsa and Denny Wilkerson Corsa hand-craft their effects by wisely eschewing modern technology, with its digital methods, over-familiar sounds and multiple presets. Instead, they favour old analogue equipment and obsolete recording devices, working hard (hopefully in a derelict garage at midnight) to create their own personal badging of the lo-fi aesthetic. The wispy and genuinely haunting music is supplemented with pianos, organs, and guitar drones, plus stray field recordings, all layered into an intricate collage assemblage. Fans of Philip Jeck will appreciate their use of tape loops and distressed old recordings, and in some ways it might be convenient to regard Lost Trail as a more benign and humanistic version of Crawling With Tarts, another duo who were preoccupied with abandoned records and malfunctioning equipment, but who usually finished up making very sinister and obsessive statements on record. Lost Trail do not dwell exclusively in the twilight zone however, and those with a taste for the strong meat of loud guitar noise should enjoy the roaring tones of ‘Rooftops / Spires / Valleys’. For me though this record is at its strongest when it exhibits its delicate and fragile side, instantly summoning up vistas of snowy landscapes and abandoned cities, while the forgotten voices and footsteps of the past echo around in melancholic fashion. Genuinely moving and heartfelt music. Arrived 3rd February 2014.