An unspeakable crime against music listening and appreciation has been committed and a victim lies supine on the ground with glazed eyes staring straight ahead, headphones covering the ears (and from beneath which phones tiny red rivulets may be discerned), and the victim’s arms and legs flung out as if in helpless appeal against the force of the sound waves that hit him square between his ears. Three suspect recordings, all from Germany as it happens, have been apprehended and their contents examined for evidence of the potential to cause grievous mental and physical injury possibly leading to death. Which of them is the guilty party? The Sound Projector’s resident music detective investigates.
Carlo Domenico Valyum, Cronovisione Italiana, Germany, Undogmatisch, UNDOGMA2 CD (2018)
I tried listening to the whole album but the artist’s name should have been a warning. Valyum. Ho-hum. Various recordings, supposedly made by Valyum back in the 1930s, of electromagnetic waves from Italian television from the future (1976 – 1989, the year Valyum supposedly died) are packaged by Mirco Magnani and Valentina Bardazzi into an album of atmospheric mystery and majesty. Some early tracks like “Eurovision” (chortle) and “Check Up” show promise of becoming something richly layered and ever-evolving – if they were allowed to go beyond the 5-minute limit. Later tracks are quite likable for a short time but they are … well, soporific.
Because all the tracks here don’t last very long, they stay stuck at an early stage of development and as a result seem frozen, their potential never to be fully or even partly manifested.
Yair Etziony, Deliverance, Germany, False Industries 023, limited edition cassette (2018)
A recording of dark atmospheric soundscapes created using a mixture of old Roland synths, modular synths and current software, “Deliverance” can be bleak and evocative but the tracks suffer from being too short and under-developed. The artist does a good job painting desolate visions of an impenetrable panopticon police state where all inhabitants are surrounded by endless layers of concrete wall, barbed wire fence and moat with slippery sides, and are oppressed by threat and fear of punishment, torture and snitching by families and friends. Problem is the music hardly ever rises above the bleakness; not even a laser-thin stream of light, representing hope of escape, appears. Everything here seems to lack energy and apathy is not only widespread, it’s contagious. It seems to have hit Etziony as well. The music just meanders about with no purpose and nothing to push it.
Creta, self-titled, Germany, Karl Records KR053, limited edition 180 gram LP (2018)
This is a pleasant little set of three ambient instrumentals featuring a mix of analog synths, bass guitar and various folk string instruments from around the Balkan / Mediterranean area from new trio Creta. There is a vague science fiction theme as suggested in the title of one track “Future Humans in Form of Auroras” and the music does tend to be slightly dark and a little apprehensive on this piece. Other than that, this recording is an unassuming work that really doesn’t stand out much in any particular way. Other artists have combined folk instruments with synthesisers and state-of-the-art software and computers to create compelling pieces featuring futuristic dystopian themes so Creta hew no new ground here. The music itself seems to err on the side of caution.
After interrogating all three subjects, I have to declare all three innocent of the charges against them and let them go free. Whatever energy and passion their respective creators wrought into these works seem to have gone on the lam, beyond the reach of this investigator, and the most damage they are capable of causing is a short attention span.