Category: Recent arrivals

New promo CDs in The Sound Projector box

My Brother The Vento

We last heard from Alberto Boccardi, an Italian engineer and electronic musician, on one half of a split LP with Lawrence English, one of those remix-someone-else’s-materials jobs; on that item, our man in the Capitol, Jeff Surak, certainly preferred the “busy-ness” of Boccardi’s well-packed side to the wallpaper of English’s unadventurous remixes. Boccardi is here now as one part of a trio with drummer Paolo Mongardi and bassist Antonio Bertoni, and their first album is Litio (BORING MACHINES BM68), a studio record produced through a process of sculpting and infinite patience; the press notes refer to the work “gradually taking shape…slowly developing and re-shaping”, which suggests there was as much time spent behind the desk as in front of the mics.

I quite liked ‘Chimera’ with its sinister synth tones on top of a rollicking drum rhythm, but the final cut has ended up twice as long on the platter as it needs to be, making the same dull point over and over for eight minutes. The group seem to pride themselves on delivering some form of “change” in their extended improvisations, but this ‘Chimera’ doesn’t really change radically from one end of its snaky tail to the other. ‘Vento Solare’ opens the album and has an off-putting air of self-importance, treading cautiously on “cosmic voyage” turf already well-explored by many 1970s synthy space-rock bands, but at least there are more group dynamics at work here, with quieter passages and attempts to shift the spacecraft into another gear. The cosmic theme continues on ‘Red Stone Floating’, which eventually achieves a vaguely mesmerising effect through its delicate synth washes and pulsations; shame that the drummer is only marking time here, when if he’d only been a bit bolder he might have helped push this piece into another dimension.

The last track has the title ‘Reconfigure Matter / Energy / Space / Time’, a title which apparently proposes to reverse the laws of physics – a somewhat ambitious expectation to pin on a single ten-minute piece of music. But at least this one shows the trio getting a shade more agitated and determined in their playing, giving an inkling of what they could achieve if they tried a little harder. After some moments of monotonous chattering and rattling as if riding some Logan’s Run styled underground tube train, the players find themselves out on the other side of a geodesic dome and contemplating the strange sunlit world around them, bathed in uncertain ambient sounds and vague chords. In all, this combination of electronics with an acoustic bass and drums set-up has its possibilities, but Boccardi’s electronic sounds (which smother the record) are mediocre and commonplace, and the trio are not yet comfortable with each other, too tentative as a trio to make a fully coherent musical statement. From 12th August 2016.

Drei, He Said

At first glance, the European trio Bader Motor may appear to be offering us nothing more than a very knowing take on Krautrock records, with their obvious quotes from Kraftwerk and Neu! LPs, and probably other Germanic references too. However, I’ll forgive any project which has Fred Bigot as a member, considering my fondness for his solo records where he mixes electronic noise with rockabilly in a highly enjoyable manner. not to mention the unusual Melt Famas record with its over-amped guitars and drums. Bader Motor are Bigot with Arnaud Maguet and Vincent Epplay – the latter played with Jac Berrocal and David Fenech – and the three have appeared together before on Musique Pour Les Plantes Des Dieux in 2009. This record, Drei drei drei (VEALS & GEEKS VAGO17 / LES DISQUES EN ROTIN REUNIS LDRR #056), not only has the clever Krautrock pastiches assembled by these French wags, but also offers their slightly sardonic version of electropop, disco, and general Euro-murk – the sort of banal aural wallpaper that might blight your continental tour at any point between the airport, the shopping mall and the cafe. This may be what the threesome have in mind when they speak of “a new class of space [rock] and Riviera Krautrock”. Riviera Krautrock?! What does that even mean? I can’t think of anything worse than experimental music recast as another consumer / lifestyle option for the “Riviera set”, those rich buffoons wearing expensive sunglasses and swimsuits, if indeed such a thing even exists any more outside of 1960s travelogue movies, but I’m prepared to believe Bader Motor are up to something vaguely subversive and sarcastic. As it turns out, this LP is an enjoyable listen with its edgy mix of user-friendly beats and melodic drones combined with odd, queasy noises, rough textures, and outpourings of filtered glorp. From 12th August 2016; available as an LP or download.

Ossuary Dub

Finding much to enjoy on this 2016 reissue of the third Painkiller album Execution Ground (KR025) from 1994, appearing as a double vinyl LP from Karlrecords in Germany. The trio of John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Mick Harris make a crazed and maximal noise full of things we tend to like, such as manic sax screams, heavy bass, remorseless rhythms, and plenty of lush studio effects such as reverb and echo. It’s much to my chagrin that I never bought their records at the time, but I intend to make good and investigate Guts of a Virgin and Buried Secrets as soon as possible. The structure of the original release was to pile on the crazy rock-friendly rhythmic stuff on the first disc, and then reserve disc two for the “ambient” mixes. Even so the second disc is every bit as menacing as the first, and the listener lives in fear for their life for most of the duration of Execution Ground.

I see the track titles make reference to Balachaturdasi and Pashupatinath, both of which terms are associated with Hindu and Buddhist rituals, a nod in the direction of esoterica which I tend to attribute to Zorn, especially with some of his later Tzadik releases when there appeared to be no gnostic subject at which he wouldn’t have a tilt, or at least profess an interest. This strain is conspicuously absent from the first two Painkiller records, which came out on the Earache label (a home to extreme speed metal, most notoriously Mick Harris’ original band Napalm Death) and whose track titles wallowed in gore, death, and other tasty taboo subjects. On the other hand, the image on the labels of a hanged man surrounded by a mod in a grisly fog will more than compensate and put the listener in a suitably morbid frame of mind.

While I’m not the world’s most loyal fan of John Zorn’s music, I find his crazy squeals make a tremendous amount of sense in this context, the studio effects improve his sound, and there may even be some edits which demonstrate he wasn’t wedded to the conventional jazz idea of recording a solo in its entirety. It wasn’t too long before this that he made the Spy Vs Spy LP, which drew musical connections between extreme hardcore and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman; clearly a stepping stone on the way to working with Harris. Laswell is probably known to most readers of these lines, and his profligacy in recorded and performed music since the 1980s is – erm – remarkable; as one example of his genre-straddling capabilities, the press notes remind us of his Last Exit project with Peter Brötzmann, Sonny Sharrock and Ronald Shannon Jackson. One of many melting-pots where improv, free jazz, rock noise and funk exchanged their sinewy vibes in a sweaty, punchy mix. The parallels with Painkiller are evident, and if you enjoy wild free-jazz skronks on top of ultra-heavy bass rhythms, this is indispensable listening.

That particular blend of sound, which we could reduce to the simple equation “rock noise with wild sax noise”, immediately made me think of Otomo’s Ground Zero. Both bands seem to have started about the same time, and the possibilities of cross-infection are interesting to speculate on, although Otomo’s band went much further down the road of layering in intense cut-ups and samples from pop culture, before the band imploded from sheer exhaustion. Also note that their Null & Void album came out on Tzadik in 1995. That same year, the year after Execution Ground came out, we had Techno Animal and the first Macro Dub Infection record, where Kevin Martin and his friends carved out a further niche down this road, laying more emphasis on the dub mixing technique, but not neglecting the fine juicy noise. I suppose Painkiller were one of the monumental milestones that opened up this route of musical experimentation. Very good. From 12th August 2016.

The Sacred Flute

Various
Sacred Flute Music From New Guinea: Madang / Windim Mambu
AUSTRIA IDEOLOGIC ORGAN SOMA024 2 x CD (2016)

Here is a nicely presented two disc set of anthropological recordings originally released on David Toop’s !QUARTZ label as !QUART001 and 002 in 1977 and 1979 respectively, now released on Ideologic Organ which is, as I’m sure you already know, is a sublabel of Editions Mego, and curated by Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))).

The first disc holds four longish pieces of duration between seven and a half and nearly fifteen minutes of field recordings made in 1976 by Ragnar Johnson of an indigenous rural community from New Guinea; the second disc twelve much shorter recordings from the same time period. For all I know, the community may not exist now or perhaps do not live their lives in the traditional way they did even forty or so years ago. Having said that, according to Wikipedia: “Large areas of New Guinea are yet to be explored by scientists and anthropologists. The Indonesian province of West Papua is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted tribal groups.” There are plentiful accompanying photographs of carved wooden slit gongs, or garamuts, and the thatched buildings and various other objects.

There is an essay, presumably written by Johnson during or shortly after his visit, which begins with the assertion that “…flute blowing is used as a mediator between the human and spirit worlds in many parts of New Guinea”. Furthermore, these flutes are “…made, owned, played and kept secret by adult men. Women and children are forbidden to see the flutes and are told that the cries of the flutes are the voices of actual spirits.” However, in the text we are told that in relation to men’s role in the community, the flutes “…should not be seen as the basis of an overall dominance by men over women outside the immediate ceremonial context.” This raises a question of whether significant, spiritual musical ritual should have been recorded by Westerners – however altruistic their intent – in order to fill a need for “entertainment”.

In this case, I could draw an analogy of the stage magician’s illusions being exposed as exactly that. More recently, there has been some debate about the tendency to repackage recordings of musics acquired from local sources around the world. I’m immediately thinking of Awesome Tapes From Africa and Sublime Frequencies who, on the one hand, produced and put into the marketplace some great recordings by some great artists who arguably are benefitting from their work being more widely distributed and available on the American and the European markets – Group Doueh being one example of musicians who are benefitting from the exposure; Aby Ngana Diop perhaps not so much. How these recordings are acquired – in terms of ownership – is unclear, although in the case of Awesome Tapes From Africa, the process involves head honcho Brian Shimkovitz trawling Ghanayan street vendors’ stalls.

Is this reminiscent of the way old blues and jazz people were treated by the music industry (Nina Simone being the famous example); about actual payment and permissions and ownership and publishing and when or is it okay to purloin another culture’s material? Although, as is well documented, in the early days of rock n roll all musicians were treated the same (badly) by record companies in terms of remuneration regardless of their background. Is it okay for westerners to go to far-flung parts of the world – and “ransack” is a strong word – in order to appropriate music as a raw material to satisfy a market that is constantly demanding something new to listen to? The Music Industry as a whole may have historically tried to turn the argument back on itself to its own benefit by citing how it loses money through the lack of effective copyright legislation outside of the US and the EU, (as well as masterminding the “Home Taping Is Killing Music” campaign and Metallica’s war on file-sharing), but I don’t want to get bogged down in that subject here. Equally, I don’t want to be unfair to the labels that I have mentioned; I’m sure they have a set of core business ethics that they always adhere to. Nonetheless, this is an interesting reissue and essential for anyone who enjoys anthropological recordings.

Nelson’s Column

Over one hour of heavy drone-grind can be yours for price of First (PICA DISK PICA038), the debut “proper” album by the young American musician Benjamin Nelson. Nelson comes from Boston, a city known for breeding wild and woolly types who would smash your face in for the price of a cold beer, and his ferocious escapades have spread consternation throughout that city. Small wonder he moved to Oslo, where he currently operates, since the Norwegians are capable of processing insane, lawless behaviour without letting it trouble their benign, Nordic composure (many of them are secretly chaos wizards in disguise). In Oslo, Nelson’s black brooding countenance must have come to the attention of Lasse Marhaug, a known magnet for freaks.

This is my way of explaining the release of first on Lasse’s Pica Disk label. It’s an intense marathon of remorseless, slow, torture…somewhat like enduring a disc-grinder applied to your skin in slow motion. Yowch. Stylistically, Nelson professes an interest in “reductionistic” techniques for electronic music, which is a fancy way of saying he’s doing as little as possible and peeling away any extraneous effects, leaving nothing but a coarse and ragged bone behind. In terms of his compositional approach, his starting point involves all sorts of discomforting ideas, including “perception of time”, “interference patterns”, and “hearing fatigue”. He’s also preoccupied by the idea of rooms, in this case meaning a room which you can’t bear to be inside, and wish to leave as soon as you possibly can.

In fine, Nelson is out to punish the listener six ways from Sunday…using every possible perceptual sense against you, turning your hearing against you, and inducing states of claustrophobia and psychological anxiety. Hard to credit he cites Eliane Radigue as an influence, since her minimal drones are usually so benign and meditative, where Nelson is clearly out to destroy the human frame with his pathological ways, and won’t leave you any room to think while he’s doing it. Matter of fact he’s proud to abandon all of that airy-fairy “pseudo spirituality” as he calls it, and won’t let the listener off the hook with “passive listening”. No curling up on the big cushion for you…you must face the harsh truth of this “objective listening”, which resolutely refuses to become transcendent art in any shape or form, insisting on its own coarsely textured materiality.

Nelson is also a trained cellist and lent his bowing skills to Cold Pin, a composition by fellow New Englander Eli Keszler. Since discovering his taste for severe electronic drone, he self-released a few items on his own behalf, with foreboding titles such as Life In Blue and Gray and Heat Field Modulation For Pathetic String And Electronics…there was also a very limited cassette called Two Rooms For Four Tones. But these weighed in at 30 minutes. If you want to experience the full hour of death by abrasive noise, then First is the one for you. When I put it like that, it’s hard to resist, isn’t it? All black CD presented in a near-black cover, where only the author name and title are barely visibly printed in varnish. A drone to destroy all drones…buy it now and never smile again. From 9th August 2016.

Benjamin Nelson’s Soundcloud page

Bird Song

Gudrun Gut
Vogelmixe
GERMANY RUN UNITED MUSIC RU18 2 x CD (2016)

As part of Heimatlieder aus Deutschland, an initiative funded to shed light on the ethnic and musical diversity of modern-day Germany, producer Gudrun Gut has been commissioned to set up symmetrical, speaker-friendly setlists of eight re-recorded ‘traditional folk’ songs for the magpie-minded Vogelmixe; going on to give each a rhythmic makeover into the bargain. While first impressions suggest this pan-global melange is more vapid-minded cocktail bar than boudoir, Gut’s choices are apparently as informed by history as by personal taste: each of the songs tracing its ancestry as far back as the 15th century to nations to have immigrated to Germany and which can thus be regarded as contributing to the country’s current ethnic identity. Each nation (Turkey, Cameroon, Morocco, Croatia, Cuba, Portugal, Transylvania and Bulgaria) is also represented in the pool of musicians to perform the ‘original’ songs; the streamlined format of which ensures that such ‘confusing diversity’ will in fact prove pleasing to listeners with and without a studied interest in the multi-coloured purview of the much-loved ‘world’ music label.

While this visible striving for authenticity might seem at odds with the remix disc’s aesthetic of electronic beats and textures and melodic extrapolations, it’s just as easy to reflect on the ‘cover tune’ simulacra nature of the pieces themselves. These aren’t preserved in amber, but subject to the prerogative of whomever happens to bring them into the present moment, though by all accounts a good deal of care went into sourcing musicians as part of ‘an extensive research and recruitment process’. The underlying theme of ‘unity’ putatively runs through all songs as expressions of a trans-continental ‘melting pot’, bringing dynamic equilibrium to which must have been a task for the compiler, but who better than the DJ to effect such a transfer?

One further motive of the remix treatment is to address the supposed lack of representation of traditional folk music in modern German electronic music. Qualifications regarding cultural appropriation aside, Gudrun’s remixes are both inventive and light of touch, making adroit use of dub, club and electro-pop motifs. Her poly-stylistic subtlety is not completely removed from that which made Honest Jon’s Shangaan Shake selection such an interesting event, though it does lack that collection’s the producer headcount advantage. Under Gudrun’s watch, generic 4/4 beats collide into thorough deconstructions, tightly-wound Thomas Brinkman-sized samples loop-based rhythms and an almost hymnal resonance that bleeds from the past into the present. While not every piece is likely to please every listener, it is nonetheless a tasteful arrangement that can be enjoyed from many a distance.

Beauty and the Beast (You Can Say No)

Pita
Get In
AUSTRIA EDITIONS MEGO eMEGO 218CD (2016)

After something of a solo hiatus, Peter Rehberg’s Pita is back in town to resume his sporadic series of phrasally verbed viands with Get In. Listeners more familiar with his work as part of KTL with Stephen O’Malley had best leave expectations at the door, which is more or less where his work on that project’s sound starts and ends: with the short, dark ambient drift of ‘Fvo’ just a swift, distracting feint, followed in no short order by a sucker-punch of Russell Haswell-esque digital gibberish – ‘20150609 I’, which I suppose is a snippet of Pita’s trumpeted ‘surprise return to live’ in 2015. But if it’s meant as a sensory postcard of said event, then its brevity is its chiefest virtue: (also) clocking in at under 3 minutes, this non-sequitur’s placement is a provocative anomaly, preened into plausibility by the press people as extending ‘the perennial Pita sound into a paradox of intimidation and beauty’ (indeed) – a statement that stinks of retro-fitting.

At the same time, the impression remains of things done by design, and a devil or two in the details… the record is dedicated to Thomas Jerome Newton aka The Man Who Fell To Earth and conceivably framed by the same lens that shot that overwrought mess of a movie, where transitions between each troubled stepchild of a track mirrors the stylistic collapse of one low-energy scene into another. Get In is an unashamed mess and an occasionally sightly one, but which just as easily passes into and beyond the vanishing point of interest. Even the granulated, tectonic growl of ‘Aahn’ and the glistening vortex of ‘Line Angel’ are but token band-aids on a perplexing physical condition; while the the bi-polar, synth-wave violation of ’S200729’ is visibly a symptom. There is a plot twist though: we might anticipate a final sprawl into booze-numbed oblivion to parallel Newton’s fall from grace, but instead ‘Mfbk’ showers patient listeners in 10 minutes of redemptive bliss. Call me impatient, but what took you so long???

Give Us A Clue

Weavels
The Living Puzzle
UK DISCUS 51CD (2015)

After a long pause, The Living Puzzle follows on from the Weavels at Nether Edge c.d. and this part studio/part live recording is my first encounter with Weavels and Weavelist thought. My curiousity centres were immediately piqued when the player credits of this improve trio revealed a weirdly unorthodox line-up. Step forward Mick Beck (one time Klinker Club regular and Feetpackets/Shkrang member), well known in avantist circles for his fearless reactivation of ‘the tenor of the oboe family’: the bassoon. His secondary arsenal here being recorder, swanee whistle and nose-flute; a Vicks Sinex and ocarina hybrid. He’s joined by bass clarinettist and Eric Dolphy fan Chris Cundy and Derek Bailey’s ‘Company Week’ stalwart/boy wonder Alex Ward on electric guitar. So, in other words, by my reckoning, that amounts to one string bender and a pair of mouth-breathers…what gives??

Well, what gives in this puzzling triangle is that the focus is on the expansion of standard playing disciplines (in the winds dept.), through harmonics and circular breathing. And as those techniques are rolled out, the whimsical/fruity tones of the bassoon and the somewhat lugubrious voice of the bass clarinet assume slightly edgier profiles. I could easily see the two gentleman players being forcibly escorted from the ‘Peter and the Wolf’ auditions for such beastly outbursts. With what seems to be a squadron of geese in attack mode, the misleadingly titled “Welcome Home” opens the five-part ‘states of living’ concept (no, me neither). “Improving the Dining Room” adds to its turbulent heft with a dash of steel appendage guitar while the reckless blart and poot of “The Sun Room Avoids Invasion by Rats” is marked by a number of uncredited vocal outpourings, worthy of Jaap Blonk in his prime, no less….

The guitar tweakings however, appear to be in slightly reduced form, Alex doesn’t quite ‘whip it out’, which is a little cranky as he actually mixed a lion’s share of this collection in his studio. A guitarist who mixes down his own contribution is one of a rare breed for sure…

Jemh and the Holograms

Jemh Circs
Jemh Circs
GERMANY CELLULE 75 CELL-1 LP (2016)

Jemh Circs is the latest alias of Marc Richter, the producer also known as Black to Comm. For this project, Richter has gone poking about in YouTube and Spotify with his special record-producing scissors, snipping out countless vocal samples from contemporary pop songs and stitching them all together in nine brightly-coloured, glittering patchwork quilts of pop/drone/ambience.

The overall effect is quite remarkable. Each track is like a hologram of pop music itself, a tiny part that reflects the whole. You almost feel that you could open them out and re-create entire popular music cultures. We’ll be grateful for that when the next solar storm fries all of our hard drives.

Opening track ‘Comp’ sets the pace, a blend of autotuned spirit voices, alien transmissions and sentient machine chatter that, somehow, still sounds like pop music. ‘Ordre’ takes it further, the invisible choir ascending in pitch across static bursts and bleached-out beats that nibble away at the edge of your awareness. ‘Va’ sends a kosmische synth fragment through a series of bizarre mutations, whilst ‘Arbre’ provides another synth figure that you might think you’ve heard before, somewhere. Possibly in a dream you had after a heavy night at a Cinderella Rockefella’s disco in 1984.

All of the tracks, incidentally, have these terse, one-word titles. It seems to be a bit of a thing these days, and I kind of like the no-nonsense, take-it-or-leave-it feel they provide. I very much like what Richter has created here. Seek it out, dive in and enjoy.

Four Pianos

I’ve been enjoying Angelina Yershova’s spacey craft for some weeks now, without necessarily knowing how to sell it, as I frequently find myself drifting into unknown pastures of the mental antipodes when I should be taking notes. On Piano’s Abyss (TWIN PARADOX RECORDS TPR001), she specialises in deep water ambience of a distinctly Robert Henke (Piercing Music-era) flavour, albeit more tidal, more insistent in its space-sweeping pulsations than Henke’s drip-fed, hour-long seabed soaking sessions. These pleasantly primordial scenes she decorates with such lilting, rolling piano passages as one might find hanging in the air at a luxury spa or scoring a screen saver rich in deep purple hues. Pleasant enough, though she pulls of a skilled balancing act between cacophonous and calming as events head towards a sinister climax of similar dimensions to David Shea’s ‘Inn of the Green Dragon’: a perspiring, metallic landscape that stretches to and fro like a beachfront fed through an Infinite Probability Drive.

Another piano-powered debut recording that doesn’t set out to dazzle as much as it seduces the listener with the slow-burn treatment (with dry ice as the chosen combustible) and makes a virtue of dead air; it seems safe to say that Sanctuary (Overtones And Deviations) (FROZEN LIGHT FZL 041) will receive recognition once this young composer’s subsequent works have earned him a bigger name. It offers a glimpse into James Batty’s quirky preoccupations and processes via gradual exposure therapy between astringent piano stylings ringing out across a cosmos shaped by other-worldly, process-based electronica. Except things are not as they initially seem: this alien astringency may partly result from Batty’s having ‘digitally hacked’ the piano to expand its 12 notes into a set of 16, giving his tinkerings the manner of someone doing a daunting dérive across a lunar surface. More considered are the swooping, Radiophonic synths and sound effects that shed light on bleak, Tron-esque cyber-surfaces crossed by digital tumbleweed and bored animals pissing in the digital water; dispassionate passages of Jim O’Rourke-esque concrète drone and a bonus track closer pounded numb by Pan Sonic-style industrialism.

Last enjoyed Florian Wittenberg’s music while listening to his collection of Artefacts, describing it as ‘a whirling void of dense and delicate textures’ born of the resonance of mystery instruments like the ‘Messertisch’ – something like a chopping board pinned down by a row of kitchen knives. Eagle Prayer (NURNICHTNUR 116 01 20) – while more terrestrial in origin, is frequently just as ethereal. Take ‘Willow Tree’, in which bowed wine glass samples converge with data drawn from photographs of the titular willows to supply a ghostly backdrop for Wittenburg’s numb-toned recitals. That software should have equipped Wittenberg to transpose images of trees into sounds might not be such a feat nowadays, but the backdrop conveys the maudlin movement of a windblown weeping willow surprisingly well. Those not inclined towards poetry may take heart that Wittenberg’s delivery is such a noncommittal murmur that it is almost eaten by the undergrowth, though perhaps not thoroughly enough for some. Also arboreal in name at least is the longest piece here: ‘One White Tree’ – a plaintive rumination for solo piano sostenuto, which may be the album’s emotional centrepiece, pipping even the pithy title track and its suave command of the patois of the African Fish Eagle.

A bit of a left turn for Mr. David Shea, whom we last heard indulging in beguiling, Fourth World soundscapes as informed by mystical religions as by devotees such as Giacinto Scelsi. Even with a soft spot for such preoccupations, I couldn’t fathom how I felt about Shea’s Rituals. Similar ambivalence abounds on this occasion, as Shea’s notoriously plunderphonic instincts on Piano 1 (ROOM40 RM476) are reined into a set of reference-laden piano pieces that pay homage to the young Shea’s personal pantheon of perfect pianists (Scelsi, Feldman, Ligetti and… Mancini among them). The defining sound is stark, minimal tonalities that hover and slide like paint droplets running down a wall, the odd flourish or splatter notwithstanding. Fancying himself the samplist-cum-composer, Shea does not play any piano himself, for reasons of apparently technical ability. Which is mysterious, as none of it sounds especially complicated. I get the impression that his outsourcing has Zorn-esque puppet master pretensions, allowing him to adopt a position of detached interest towards his ruminations. Though the collection consists of a couple of suites including one entitled Suite; the other a schmaltzy-but-distant and incongruous Mancini tribute, these are markedly less interesting than the gloomy climatologies of the more agreeably aimless stand-alones ‘Mirror’, ‘Magnets’ and ‘Trance’ – which suggestively explore the piano’s tonal drift zones with a far lighter hand.