A couple of TSP faves on Aq’ Ab’ Al (MIKROTON CD 57) – Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Miguel A. García team up to rub their respective noisy snouts together on four new tracks of grinding, intensive, semi-mechanical drone. Apparently the term Aq’ab’al comes to us from the Mayan calendar, and has powerful connotations of renewal – a sunrise, a new day dawning, the discovery of fresh reserves of energy, and like that. It’s also possible to associate the sign with “polar opposites”, a concept which our duo might be attempting to express with the constant tension that’s going on in this work, each blistering moment of electronic abrasiveness fighting for attention and seeking to claim the upper hand. I doubt if Monteiro and García behave like this in real life, otherwise they’d be too busy arm-wrestling and getting into bar-brawls to make any music, but it’s probably far healthier to slug it out in the confines of the studio than to cause trouble in a public space. The press notes here speak of “a forceful energy that seems to be constrained, captured into a muffled atmosphere”, which is certainly a notable trait of this music which often seems to be seething with barely-concealed anger and hate. While these tracks may not appear especially violent or forceful in their opening moments, just keep listening, and you’ll soon be drawn into the maelstrom of emotions, feeling each effusion like a steely knife lacerating your hide, in slow motion. The deeper you go, the more alarming it gets. From 19th April 2017.
We used to hear quite regularly from Günter Müller, the Swiss improviser, with releases on his label For4Ears, instances of his work with like-minded individuals in a field which has, contentiously, become known as “electro-acoustic improvisation”. Based on today’s offering, EAI lives on – the trio here is mkm, comprising Müller and two other greats – Norbert Möslang, one half of Voice Crack, and proud player of “cracked everyday-electronics” since the 1970s; and Jason Kahn, the American percussionist and composer who has evidently made a home for himself on the European continent. Matter of fact this album instants // paris (MIKROTON CD 51) was performed and recorded in Paris in 2012. Everyone in the trio is playing some form of electronic (or digital) device – Günter Müller continues to use his ipods, Kahn has his analogue synth and radio set. 46 minutes of seamlessly blended drone music results: intense, hypnotic, detailed, and flawlessly executed; yet somehow not very challenging or surprising either. From 19th April 2017.