Tagged: electronic

Now I Am Beyond Belief

You may recall us raving about this Hen Ogledd LP in 2016, a great LP resulting from the team-up of avant-harpist Rhodri Davies and Richard Dawson, the English folk singer and scholar who created the remarkable record The Glass Trunk in 2013 (on which Rhodri played, come to think of it). Well, these two have now turned Hen Ogledd into a band or project of some sort, and here’s their LP Bronze (ALT-VINYL AV069), an astonishing six tracks of musical noise realised with the help of Dawn Bothwell, plus guest players Laura Cannell and Jeff Henderson.

That’s Richard’s artwork on the front cover, a collage called ‘Golden Person’, and with its near-anonymous implacable stare and inscrutable alien visage, this face immediately clues you in that you’re about to spin a very special record. From the opening track I thought we might be embarking on some pagan-mystery theme, rich in dark magick and old straight tracks and stone monuments…it’s called ‘Ancient Data’, an evocative title if ever there was…and on one level may summon up visions of early astronaut visitors and dreams inspired by Erich Von Daniken, or more simply may be a fancy way of referring to archaeology. However, musically it’s an uncategorisable sound, and only the voice work of Dawn Bothwell and the haunting recorders of Cannell might substantiate my theory, adding a mystical folk-flavour to the strange electronic and plucked jumble of inventiveness.

As to that, I suppose a cursory read of the credit notes may give some small indication of what Davies and Dawson were doing at Blank Studios under the watchful ear of Sam Grant (who recorded it), and once again Rhodri is amplifying and electrifying his harps to produce intense, astringent noise and bone-shattering drones, even surpassing his incredible work on Wound Response (amplification and distortion used for devastating results). But he also plays the loudhailer, nails, and marble. Richard Dawson’s credit list is even more arcane, including a number of things which might seem more at home inside a witch’s cupboard than in a recording studio; I could read these two lines of text over and over, until they resemble a form of poetry.

I say this in some attempt to account for the uncanny force and deliberation behind these eerie sounds, at times crude and brutal as the best post-punk band that ever existed, at times ringing together with a spiritual harmony and peacefulness that puts the listener at one with the universe, such as on ‘Beyond Belief’, a superb English update on the music of Popl Vuh. Perhaps Dawn Bothwell, with her synths, effects, and mostly her singing voice, is doing something to temper the alien-inspired antics of the two male players, and her sweetening influence is most evident on the short but gorgeous ‘Gwawr in Reverse’. But she also ends the album with her spunky lyrics to ‘Get My Name Right Or Get Out!’, a title which needs no explanation, and a song which comes over as feisty as a combination of Poly Styrene and Honey Bane.

There’s also the uncanny epic sprawl of ‘Gondoliers’ (the A side of this LP is so right-on it just destroys) and a real misfit on the B-side called ‘Amputated Video’. The broken electronic yawp of this gem has to be heard to be believed; so many English players aspire to capture the truth of the Radiophonic Workshop in their synth-led tributes, but this is the real goods, something which has crawled out of a demented dream-version of 1970s BBC daytime television like a manifestation of all your worst Dr Who fears. I think this record wipes the floor with a lot of contemporary pretenders who dabble in “ceremonial” or “pagan” music without any real understanding of what they mean, and the breadth of its sonic ambition is enormous. Truly astounding, and highest recommendation for this incredible piece of work. From 15th November 2016.

My Solid Ground

Swiss composer Antoine Chessex is no stranger to incorporating electronic elements into his orchestral scores, as evidence by his collaboration with Valerio Tricoli on Dust – which was the last thing we heard from Chessex in 2012. On it, Tricoli added tape music and electronic music to the performance of a string trio, and some near-horrifying desolate music resulted. On today’s offering, Plastic Concrete / Accumulation (BOCIAN RECORDS BC-AAJ), Chessex has turned in two more ultra-modernistic compositions for a chamber ensemble (Apartment House), and roped in the great Jérôme Noetinger for the tape/electronic elements…in overall approach this isn’t too far away from Dust, but the music is much more rich and fascinating. The press release throws out descriptions such as “textural density” and “microtonal tensions” to account for these eerie twisting layers of sound, which often generate rather alarming dissonances and mixed harmonies that the human ear finds hard to tolerate. The album won’t exactly make you feel ill, but it certainly won’t induce a sense of well-being either.

On the first piece, ‘Plastic Concrete’, the music is performed by a mix of violin, clarinet, trombone, cello, acoustic double bass and electric guitar, and Apartment House – said Ensemble led by Anton Lukoszevieze, the cellist – turn in an inhumanly perfect rendition of this complex scored work, while Noetinger operates his trusty reel-to-reel tape recorder to bring in some “real time manipulations”. One avowed aim of working this way is to inject unexpected surprises into the scored piece, and thus break down the barriers between improvised and composed music (something a lot of people seem very determined to achieve these days). All 24 minutes of ‘Plastic Concrete’ are full of inexplicable incident, for sure, but the general tone of the piece remains quite solemn and serious, even when the string section are creating some pretty wild and hairy swoops into the upper registers. The sounds combine very pleasingly. If we had some attack-mode percussion added to this set, one might almost say the bold visions of Edgard Varèse were coming true.

‘Plastic Concrete’ was recorded live at Cafe OTO in London in 2014. 14 months later, ‘Accumulation’ was recorded in the same venue, with a different line-up of Apartment House, effectively now a string quartet for the occasion. Superficially, ‘Accumulation’ may lack the variety of its brother without the extra colours of woodwinds and electric guitar, but it’s much more focussed, and the strings fuse together into a tight knot of sound, again almost impossibly perfect. This may be due to the precise execution which Lukoszevieze’s crew are capable of, or the watertight arrangements of Chessex (I don’t know why but I sense he’s a man who leaves nothing to chance), or the subtle sonic blending which I assume is taking place under the gifted fingers of Noetinger and his tape recorder. The overall effect is extremely satisfying to hear, and I think both pieces can be counted as successes. From 21st November 2016.

Russian Mines

The Pyramiden EP (LINEAR OBSESSIONAL LOR 088) is by Project Mycelium, a duo of electronic musicians Luke Brennan and Lorenzo Santangeli from Hackney; they describe their working method as piecing together “minimalist fragments of acoustic samples”, and have previously had a short record called Pulse released on this label. Pyramiden is derived from the sounds of water and steel, and appears to be themed on ideas about mining; at any rate, the accompanying PDF file features a series of colour photographs taken by Mary Pearson, depicting a disused mining installation. This locale turns out to be a part of Norway annexed by Russia in 1925, when they claimed mining rights; nobody lives there now though, and the installation is completely abandoned.

We have noted before how disused industrial sites (especially mines) evidently have a particular fascination for visual and sound artists, and recent instances of this trend include Franck Vigroux’s Entrailles and Ogrob’s work investigating the Staffelfelden mine shaft. I kind of like Pearson’s photos, even though they are very prosaic, because they fit into the overall pattern of her work and her concerns; among other things, she is frequently drawn to remote and hostile environments, and you can’t get much more forlorn than Pyramiden, this distant part of Isafjordur on the west coast of Spitzbergen. At least she actually visits these places to get her photos, presumably exerting some physical effort and undergoing hardships thereby, whereas I doubt if Brennan and Santangeli even strayed very far from their hip pad in Hackney to create this weedy effort. Their music as Project Mycelium is competent enough, but a very pedestrian reworking of water and steel sound samples, resulting in a plodding, literal sound-picture of what they think a mineshaft might sound like. Very ordinary piece of lite-industrial textured noise. From 25th November 2016.

Yoruba Spells

Rob (u) rang

Within the lurid sleeve depicting producer Gabriel Séverin’s (Rob (u) rang since 2000) bared chest lurk nine pieces of electronic avant pop music; detourned somewhat with what appears to be an attempt to thread a seam of African occultism throughout. Specifically, he informs us that he employs yorùbá spells – writings and recordings thereof I’m assuming acquired himself – from trips to Nigeria and Benin. The accompanying booklet attached to the inside of the fold-over digipak includes these texts along with translations into English.

Judging by the sound of the opening track, “Le Lion Et Le Gazelle”, the esteemed Mister (u) rang is quite busy enjoying the process of recording music without paying too much attention to the detail; the music is ragged, sounds cobbled together or barely held together, with mismatched delay times while pre-set rhythm settings (a vintage Ace Tone Rhythm Ace drum machine from Rob’s own collection, no less?) predominate. But that’s the whole idea and it’s a good one. This mildly wonky approach works well with the material and results in a deliberately unbalanced listening experience.

On the third track, “Begin to understand”, Séverin credits himself with “subterranean bass guitar”. Did he actually bury it? Flute weaves around percussion samples that have blunt, soporific edges almost like what I imagine 23 Skidoo might have sounded like on Nytol. As it progresses, heavily processed harmonium courtesy of Xavier Klaine fluctuates.

Séverin covers some ground stylistically. “Àjídéwe” I could describe as acoustic breakbeat, while “Les puisatiers” – “The Well Diggers” – has a flute bed that wouldn’t sound out of place in the background at a travellers’ hostel in Goa. In the booklet in amongst the spells is a piece of text by Laszlo Umbreit – the field-recordist responsible for the Sounds of Europe website – about the physical act of digging a well: “…things get perilous 5 or 6 metres deep, because the soil grows soft again as you get close to the water. You have to know when to stop before the hole, now ten metres deep, collapses over the digger…” “Oògùn eti didi” on the other hand, is flecked with jazz with a repeated bass motif. “Ìdáàbòbò ọba lówó ikú” features pitch-shifted vocals, heaving woodwinds and woozy electronics. Bringing things to a close, the final piece, “Oògùn éfọrí” is a maelstrom of contrasting elements; tablas spar with the trusty Rhythm Ace, buzz-saw guitars compete with what could be samples. The results are disorientating and strange.

A fine set of transporting vintage electronics mixed with medicated afro-funk elements – which in the wrong hands might result in an unholy stew of Fela Kuti meets Klaus Wunderlich – here, reminiscent of what used to be called “chill-out music” in parts, but with a sharper, darker edge. Tradition meets modernity across continents.

Discourse Markers

Paul Wirkus is a German musician based in Cologne who works with electronics and percussion. We heard him performing on Adikia with Ekkehard Ehlers, with whom he regularly works, but I’m surprised we haven’t noted any of his solo works before, as he is exceptionally good. The record Discours Amoureux (EDITION BEIDES 2) is something I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who wants to hear genuinely expressive and considered experimentation in the field of digital / electronic music, an area which is over-populated with too many half-baked ideas. The clarity of Paul Wirkus’s ideas, and the conviction with which they are executed, shine forth exceptionally well on this release. Although you could easily pigeon-hole this sound into “laptop” or “ambient” music, the record transcends these labels.

Wirkus himself describes Discours Amoureux as a “psycho-acoustic essay”…he intends the music to represent imaginary walks he takes in his mind, and combines the sounds of these walks with actual field recordings captured in the city [of Cologne], while on a search for inner piece or mental calm. It seems significant that he did it in the summer; perhaps the sunlight itself contributed to the sense of well-being that permeates this music. From a technical point of view, he executed the work mostly through live playback from one computer onto another computer dedicated to recording; I get the sense that he’s not one of those obsessed with infinite tinkering of sound files, layers, and edits, a pass-time which it is possible to be drawn into when you embark on the path of laptop composition. There’s a certain warmth and spontaneity which has transferred directly into the digits; but I am assuming that this is the result of much preparation, thinking, and compositional rigour.

Other journalists and music organs have long recognised the genius of Wirkus, and he’s not ashamed of the many prizes and “CD of the month” awards that have come his way. His catalogue can be found on labels such as Staubgold, Gusstaff Records and Quecksilber, and the earliest one I can find suggests his recording career began in 1999. This is the second release on Edition Beides, and follows his Carmen Et Error also released in 2016. Recently Wirkus has been expanding his act into multi-media projects, including radio plays, music for dance, and theatre. A lot of musicians try this sort of thing, but one listen to Discours Amoureux should persuade you that Wirkus has a strong grasp of narrative and structure, and is skilled enough to express this very clearly in his work. Very good. From 14 November 2016.

Sound Pipers Of Garlic

Indescribable double CD of improvised vocal noises along with non-musical sounds and eruptions…this is the combined talents of four international mavericks, i.e. Adam Bohman, the UK sound poet, performer, bricoleur and cassette diarist; Oliver Mayne, English musician living in Budapest; Jean-Michel van Schouwburg, described here as “the inimitable voice maestro”; and Zsolt Sőrés, the Hungarian musician. Budapest is the connecting zone, the area where these four met and climbed into a musical melting pot. Bohman and Jean-Michel were invited there in 2010 by the film-maker Peter Strickland, and once Zsolt S?rés got wind of this he quickly set up an improvising situation and asked Oliver Mayne to join in. What has supposed to be a fortuitous one-off occasion soon developed into a regular event, and in the years since the four have performed together many times, now working under the strange and awkward name of I Belong To The Band. The double CD we have before us documents four such occasions from 2010 and 2013, all of them happening in Budapest, and shows the foursome captured either live or in the studio. On one occasion, a live event at Fuga, they were joined by the vocalist Katalin Ladik. Ladik’s impressive vocal work may be known to some for her contributions to recordings of Ernő Király, the Yugoslavian modern composer.

This package, titled Bakers Of The Lost Future (INEXHAUSTIBLE EDITIONS ie-004-2), shows how the combo require a lot of space and time to spread out – some might unkindly call it a sprawl – to realise their need for self-expression. Musical instruments are involved, including vibes, synths, and stringed instruments, but I get the impression that amplified objects are much more the weapon of choice in the IBTTB stable. Bohman’s a past master of selecting and hitting strange objects in the service of sound production; Zsolt Sőrés has his own personal selections, and also brings circuit-bending and dictaphone tapes to the table in his quest for the ultimate in lo-fi distortion and mangled groink. Mayne too is no stranger to clipping a contact mic onto anything that stands still long enough. Together, these three weave a cluttered but intense din of rubbly and unfamiliar textures, producing a dense soup that makes no concessions whatsoever to “art music” or jazz-inflected improvisation, nor is it as opaque and mystifying as the inert over-processed murk that Das Synthetische Mischgewebe often creates using similar methods. I haven’t heard such a compelling layered and over-crowded racket since my last DDAA listen. Over this scrambly foundation, van Schouwburg yawps out his nightmarish vocalising, a bad dream of opera singing caused by a night of indigestion at the Magyar Állami Operaház. All the pieces have been assigned nonsensical titles, word-salad arrangements such as ‘Intergalactic Gulash vs Sneezawee Gaspacho’ and ‘Gastric Samba Honkers’, as if attempting to realise the same sense of mental indigestion through the channel of literary expression. The references to food and the stomach in these titles are most fitting.

I would also single out the uncanny escapades of Katalin Ladik on the track where she features, ‘Poets of the Absurd on Chalk’. She’s pretty much carrying on an unintelligible argument with van Schouwburg as if the two were actors / opera singers playing husband and wife in a grotesque marriage, or perhaps simply play-acting a garbled version of Punch and Judy. It’s by turns comedic and ugly, yet still infused with moments of mysterious and terrifying beauty. Both the vocalists here sound certifiably insane, but they deliver their loopy barks with great assurance and confidence. We could say the same about the music, which is pretty much fragmented and bonkers in the extreme, but played with gravitas and conviction. There is no doubt in my mind that this is down to the personalities involved (very strong personalities); you could never train a classical musician to play this way in a million years, even if they had been raised on John Cage since birth. It’s an instinctive thing, and a very personal thing. The effect here is intensified because these are four like-minded souls, who have nothing to prove to the world…the music is as much a product of that bond as anything else, the sound of an amazing conversation, on which we are lucky enough to eavesdrop.

Peter Strickland, though he doesn’t play a note, is also pivotal to the record. He also happens to have been part of the Sonic Catering Band in a former life, and the strange formless non-musical performances he was responsible for are could be seen as one of the many tributaries that have flowed into Bakers Of The Lost Future. He also directed the movie Berberian Sound Studio, which used the talents of Katalin Ladik for its soundtrack, and which briefly featured the Bohman Brothers making a cameo appearance. Another gem from the Slovenian label Inexhaustible Editions, arrived 28th October 2016.

Five Leaves Left

Günter Schlienz from Stuttgart has evolved his own electronic sound over many years through his own secret hand-built devices and unique set-up, which involves modular synthesis, tape machines, and echo units. As Günter Schlienz, he’s released over 20 albums since 2010, some of them privately pressed as CDRs or as cassettes on his own Cosmic Winnetou label. As Navel – described here as an “ambient post-rock project” – he goes back even further, with a string of self-released CDRs from the late 1990s. Today’s record is called Autumn (ZOHARUM ZOHAR 133-2), and it’s a completely charming evocation of the seasons rendered in timeless and very sweet electronic music. I couldn’t help thinking of the Peter Schmidt watercolour painting that was included in Eno’s Before And After Science, the one titled Look At September, Look At October; the music seems a very good fit for that evocative image of a tree seen outside the window, the leaves about to turn brown. Schlienz’s music is not far apart from Eno’s, but it must be said his hand-crafted inventing has really reaped dividends, and he has successfully side-stepped the problem of pre-sets and factory settings that has blighted many a lesser synth keyboard player. Autumn doesn’t sound particularly “weird” though, and I suspect Schlienz doesn’t see himself as a pioneer of unusual sounds or a cosmic explorer trying to wring hidden depths from the innards of electronic machinery. Rather, he simply has his stories to tell in musical form, and wants to find his own way of saying them. An album of slow and intriguing beauty…while not quite as spiritually deep as Popol Vuh, Schlienz’s heart is in the right place, and with his benign and optimistic outlook on the world, he makes Tangerine Dream seem positively turbulent and apocalyptic in comparison. From 27th October 2016.

Pacific Rim

Kurt Liedwart / Phil Raymond

In a possibly deliberate move, label head Kurt Liedwart has arranged the two names on the sleeve of Rim so that his makes the word “LIED”. It is this kind of wordplay that allows me to theorize wildly about subliminal messaging and unconscious communications. I won’t bore you with my crackpot theories here though, rest assured. Polymath Kurt Liedwart plays lloopp, electronics and percussion on this studio session. As well as running Mikroton, Liedwart has evidence of his previous activities documented on Intonema, Theme Park, Hideous Replica and Copy For Your Records. He also designs the packaging for most if not all Mikroton releases. His counterpart on this particular outing, Phil Raymond, contributes “computer percussion” to these five pieces of full-strength machine-drone, identified only by their individual duration. Raymond is currently resident in Moscow and has released a previous download EP via Mikroton called Absence in 2008, half of which was also released on the compilation The Best Of NTNS Radio. The following year he and Liedwart joined forces, Raymond allowing Liedwart to repurpose his percussion recordings in a live setting. As the Mikroton website states: “Liedwart created inventive systems of sound matters, working with both percussion and electronics, carefully adapting [the] other musician’s materials”. Here on Rim, the evidence of their collaboration forces the limits of what we understand electronic music can be. The resulting tangle of crackling, chittering, grinding, whirring, bubbling, skittering implosions, is mastered with empathy by Ilia Belorukov.

Opening with “10:58”, a giant slab of grumbling printed circuit boards, desiccated by freezing tundra winds, Rim starts as it means to go on. Giant oil tanks rub against each other while contact mics the size of steel pans burst out of the ground at the ends of mile-long runs of armoured cable. The second piece, “3:52”, begins and I panic, thinking my ears have re-blocked after I suffered with crippling sinus pain on a flight the week before, and became temporarily deaf in one ear. All I could hear was the sound of my own head filling up with phlegm, with distant popping and crackling replacing the things my family were actually saying to me. Frustrating for me, but probably much more for them. “9:27” is the sound of my ears suddenly – and violently – unblocking. The fourth piece; “4:16” begins with what sounds like two mountainsides rubbing against each other. Clearly one or both of these two artists spend their free time contact-mic’ing geology. The long final piece, “22:45” is monumental and granite-lined. Tectonic plates quiver and bend. Time stops. You can hear the icecaps melting.

Putting the melodrama of the Noise genre aside, I consider the music on Rim as some of the most extreme electronic music I have ever encountered. Furthermore, I see this music as a protest. It is a protest against what modern life has become; about lies dressed up as truths, about manipulation, vested interests, greed, ignorance, discrimination. It’s about burying our heads in the sand; at the same time allowing ourselves to become wilfully misinformed. Last year, 2016, saw many opportunities for positive change squandered. To me, despite being recorded in 2009, Rim is like a blow-by-blow account of that year in sound and spirit.


Massimo Pavarini
X Sounds Extremely Mysterious

The emergence of this bulging quad c.d. box set comes as a homage to, and an overview of the works of Italian composer/multi-instrumentalist Massimo Pavarini (1970-2012). A nicely appointed retrospective details his genre-hopping career from the years 1988 to 1994, showing a restless, mercurial talent who, as contributors to the accompanying booklet will attest, was also his own sternest critic. Projects that began with the best of intentions would be casually ditched and bulk-erased from the memory banks, much to the chagrin of his close friends and contemporaries. I’m thinking here of someone that, working practice-wise, seems to resemble Arthur Russell (himself no slouch in rapid genre shifting), combined with the mindset of a pre-fame Syd Barrett. I seem to recall reading that a number of his works at art college would be discarded/destroyed (?) soon after receiving their very last drip of paint, as if going through the artistic process was an end in itself. However, in Massimo’s case, his work has been retrieved from places unknown and have been lovingly and painstakingly restored.

“Alea”, his debut, matches arthouse electronics against hushed piano introspection and was originally issued in cassette only format on the Rosa Luxemborg label. On “Alloro a Colazione”, we can see the dapper spirit of Monsieur Erik Satie hovering over those ivories, genie-like. But that largely unadorned piece ill-prepares the listener for the eye-watering gas cloud of white noise that eventually engulfs “Over the Rainbow” (from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (!)). Dear Judy and her mutant entourage would soon realise that some things are even more psychologically disturbing than those damnable flying monkey-things. The startling “Impulso è Rigetto” has Massimo ‘breaking glass in his room again’ with lung-straining sax skronk and mangled guitar emissions recalling certain violent juxtapositions/jump-cuts found in the early Goebbels & Harth songbook. The “Undicititoli” collection (c.d. no. 2), sadly unreleased at the time, again finds our teenage (!) hero teetering between light and shade. For every “Nativo”; a bewitching Italian cousin to the “Kes” soundtrack, there’s always an “Ingrandire un Policlinico”, in which pounding drum tattoos are but a mere click-track set next to the ‘a to z’ of factory demolition tonalities that follow.

Another artistic zig-zag takes place with the “Danze” c.d. with the artist in question’s apparent brainwashing at the hands of the sinister house/techno-ambient cabal. Well, I’m happy to report that their efforts weren’t that successful as tracks like “The Good Clerk” and “the Curling Ducks” are too hard-edged to occasion thoughts of the loved-up ones throwing shapes with glo-sticks. Mercifully, this approximation of a U.K.-based ‘scene’ (cough) has been partially bent out of shape by an outsider’s p.o.v. and seems to align itself with grainy b/w photos of Hard Corps or Nitzer Ebb instead.

Massimo’s collaborative exploits find a home on “Gruppi”, the final disc in this foursome, and covers his involvement as principal drummer/rhythmic synthesist with Le Orbite, Marmo, Le Forbici di Manitù and Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata. Recorded mostly live, Le Orbite were a 2g/b/d vox outfit that could’ve easily slotted into the Creation Records roster right next to Slowdive. This kinda ‘my bloody mary chain-lite’ choonage (at its best on “Over and Over” and the “6 Colori” instrumental really does fail to match the sense of invention displayed on the previous discs. Sadly, the lure of a bowl cut and a hooped t-shirt must’ve proved to be too overwhelming…

An earnest/moody vocal package and trebly white boy funk guitar signals the arrival of Marmo. Excised from vinyl/cassette comps, the Hula/Chakk-esque rumblings reach their boiling point with Massimo’s ‘noise guitar’ cameo on “I Cinque Angoli”. Laboiusly slow grinding, subterranean rhythms and T.A.C. leader Simon Balestrazzi’s dark mutterings and insinuations seem to share thoughts and deeds with Anti-Group and 23 Skidoo. But perversely, this mainstay of the Italian underground (for over twenty years…) hits real pay dirt with “Ingoiare Chiodi” (from the “Hypnotischer Eden” c.d. on Discordia) which could almost be a great lost Morricone theme. Those chasing unusual sonorities scoped from exotic sources will do a double back flip over T.A.C.’s genius deployment of scraped propellers, ‘walkie-talkie’ voices, Ethiopian drums and the Turkish Zurna. Le Forbici di Manitù’s piece marks Massimo’s last recorded work. With its archetypal synthetic waveforms, “Esilio nel Deserto delle due Lune” could easily have hatched from any period in the last half century or so and is taken from the “Luther Blissett Soundtrack” on Alchemax Records.

So there we have it… a long ‘n’ sprawling response to a tragically brief yet sprawling career path. A sincerely constructed tribute from drawing board to finished article.

Death Knell

Ilpo Väisänen
Syntetisaattori Musiikkia Kuopiosta

Unfortunate is the timing of this new arrival from Ilpo Väisänen – former Pan Sonic partner to the recently and sadly departed Mika Vainio – which, through no fault of its own, renews the sting of that prodigiously prolific ex-cohort’s death. Compounding this exceptional timing is the rumour of its being Väisänen’s first solo work in 16 years, though such pretensions to the momentous are quickly thwarted by the facts of a) his solid cohort of contemporaneous collaborations (many, poignantly, featuring Vainio) that show his to be a similarly workhorse constitution; b) it isn’t his only solo work: the recent I-LP-O project features a solid lineup of Ilpo, Väisänen and himself; the trio but a masquerade. What’s more, Syntetisaattori Musiikkia Kuopiosta is but a mini album and not a game-changing one, but I think I’d best move on lest I talk readers out of reading on.

‘Osat’ parts 1-9 cover some ground. Though much less abrasive than many of Pan Sonic’s balls-out blitzkriegs, in a blind-test situation Väisänen’s restless yet understated rhythmic peregrinations would still draw comparisons to the ‘other’ act. ‘Osat 1-5’ pushes pattering, pulmonary palpitations that murmur like muffled machinery in an envelope of escalating hum, setting up a spell of car-sickness-inducing arrhythmia in its final lap. Flipping over, ‘Osat 6-9’ pulsates with Porter Ricks-style nautical dub and the squelchy gibberings of dolphins deftly navigating the sweeping bleeps of depth-sounding technology. Lacking both Pan Sonic’s napalm distortion and military stamina, movements are brief and sufficiently well-blended to keep ‘the rut’ at an ever-comfortable distance and ensure a taut and enduring freshness in even the dourest and most impersonal moments.

Inter Alia

Keeping Pan Sonic firmly in mind (and in recognition that those operations were long-closed before Vainio left us) is this brief blast of dread-inducing drone techno, responsible for which is Jamka aka Slovakians Monika Subrtova and Daniel Kordik, who have issued a steady trickle of such artisan efforts in the last decade and a half. Tracks like ‘Patemp’ and ‘Anazmo’… well, this whole album… makes liberal use of panic-inducing drones and dub-flavoured attack formations of sinewed and bludgeoning beats; making a virtuous show of punishing discipline; exhibiting fewer of the excesses of distortion and over-production than those Jamka model themselves on – your Regises and Techno Animals – not becoming over-repetitive, though breaking no rules either. This is ‘clean’ techno for clubs where the only hint of danger is the smoke they pump in to make punters thirsty, but it’s ideal for those who prefer home-listening to the slap of recognition that one is at least a decade older than every other tight-assed white-boy doing the dancefloor indie-shuffle.