Tagged: religious


The Talking Animals

Fuck 2012 by Spirit Animals is a double disc set in a screenprinted wallet. All nicely home-made and very well-presented for something on a budget. He even has his own logo, a glyph composed from the initials S and A rendered in a Keith Haring manner. The creator is Mr Sean Wars of Liverpool who sent us this 13 April 2012. In pursuit of his “animal” theme, the audio CD and DVD are identified by different beasts rather than titles. The audio portion of the show, designated by the canine image, contains five tracks – starting with a long and highly extended steady drone piece with grows more distorted and grungy, before collapsing into a heap of wild and messy feedback that betokens a mental state of complete exasperation, a driving dissatisfaction where the next logical step would be to burn down the neighbour’s house. But it’s followed by something far more fragile, peaceful and minimal, a strangely moving piece which I would describe as a Zen wind-chime surrounded by fairy flutes from the land of well-a-day. There is also another piece of ferocious growly feedback noise called ‘Bearlesque’ (note the concealed bear in that title – another animal to add to the catalogue), and an uncertain instrumental ‘Buhbye Blood’ which is a sea-shanty played in slow motion on a frozen ocean. Play the DVD, designated by a feline image, and you’ll see Sean Wars playing all the above music, filmed for the occasion in a whitewashed attic of mystery. He does it through a combination of microphones, amplification, instruments and voices, played and replayed through a metal suitcase full of effects pedals. Concentration is evident in his body posture. He twists his dials with a strong degree of conviction, and it’s also exciting to see him perform the angry vocal parts of his harsh-noise sections, where the video tape includes jump-edits which hop about in sympathy with the musician’s jerky body movements. On the other hand it’s also revealing to see the devices he actually used; what I thought what was a wind chime based on the blindfold test turns out to be a thumb piano. I was more or less right about the sea-shanty though (it’s played on a small concertina). Gratuitous title aside, this music shows promise; a mixed collection of electro-acoustic music performance, with real-time processing and occasional Masonna-esque touches.

A recent example of the minimal-improvised mode of music from Marrichville in New South Wales is Incisions (IT’LL BE AWESOME 001) by Black Cracker. This is the duo of the trombonist Rishin Singh and Joe Watts. Watts operates a mixing desk to generate imperceptible patterings of non-musical sputterings, with a very insistent electronic putt-putt-putting. Meanwhile the trombonist breathes silent copper death into the air for long minutes, and then starts to produce squelches and squeaks with his mouth until you can almost see the flecks of bubbling saliva dribbling down his chin. There are brief moments near the end when it sounds like a mad elephant complaining about the short-wave radio that’s unexpectedly materialised in the savanna. The creators make an anti-copyright statement on the back cover, while each copy in this limited run edition has a hand-drawn cover by Rosita Holmes. The first release on Sam Pettigrew’s label. From 10 April 2012.

La Verna is a lovely place in Tuscany where I have visited some years ago as part of a tour to see the paintings of Piero della Francesca. It’s famous as the area where St Francis received the stigmata and there’s a shrine built where the incident took place. Sound artist Pietro Riparbelli has surpassed my one-day tourist trip with a three-day sojourn at the Sanctuary in La Verna. It looks like he really got “into” the place and its sounds in a big way and turned the experience into the art statement that is Three Days of Silence (GRUENREKORDER GRUEN 102). He collected field recordings from around the mountain area and also recorded the ceremonies of the monks, assembling the results into this carefully-structured work; he intends it to be a document of the complete experience, and through his compression he presents an authentic rendition of the three days in the space of less than one hour. He succeeds admirably in conveying the stillness and peace of the place, and provides another chapter in his ongoing mission to present the aural truth about certain sacred locales around the globe which he has selected. Given that previous instalments in the Riparbelli scheme have been quite alarming, psychologically disturbing, or even supernatural in nature, this beautiful release is welcome for its abiding sense of spiritual warmth and inner stillness, and it has a clarity and lightness that is refreshing. For those who seek more information about his time in the mountain, Pietro has made available online all his original source materials, and relevant pages from his diary. Arrived 5th April 2012.

Another example of compression technique is to be found on I Am Sitting in Phill Niblock’s Kitchen (MONOTYPE RECORDS MONO042). This is a collaboration between If, Bwana and Dan Warburton. The multi-layered (and how!) work is mostly the result of Warburton’s efforts, and he tells the story behind the realisation of it in his equally compressed and witty liner notes. It has involved the layering of a very large amount of time-stretched pre-recorded material, working to very strict rules of duration and timing, and resulting in an impossible multi-decker sandwich of recorded history from the past releases of Al Margolis. The playback of said material then took place in an acoustic space with added live clarinet, electronics and violin performances from the players, and recordings were made to include the ambient space along with any interference from passing traffic or other sounds. Besides referencing the famous Alvin Lucier piece, it harks back to another Warburton episode which he made with Reynols, broadly on the same theme. Enough conceptual and aural layers for you so far? I feel like we’re getting a crash course in post-Cagean composition in less than 45 minutes. Actually what comes over in playing back this little beastie is that, far from being the indigestible slab of overloaded musical sludge one might feasibly expect, it’s a very listenable and open-ended thing – the listener feels they could dive into any of the numerous sound-windows presented in this big glass cathedral, yet the building also retains a perfect sense of contiguity, without ever descending into a boring drone of competing frequencies. Like Pietro’s above, there is much light. It shows that subtlety in realisation is often an artist’s strongest weapon; by all means think big, but then use your craft to conceal the scale of your ambitions. When unveiled, the towering iron structure will appear to be floating in the air. The sheer quantity of aural information hereon has the same dizzying effect on me as when I first heard If, Bwana’s music on his 1999 release Clara Nostra, reeling from the idea and the sound of over 100,000 overdubbed clarinets. Excellent. I think this one arrived in February 2012.

The Voice of Unreason

Univrs. (RASTER NOTON R-N 133) by Alva Noto is a record which I would like to think celebrates the joys of typesetting – Univers is everyone’s favourite font – but in fact it’s a follow-on from a previous release Unitxt, and has something do with the properties of a universal language. Given Carsten Nicolai’s very digital predilections, you can bet his conception of language and universality has little to do with quaint notions such as Esperanto, The United Nations or international détente (how very 20th century, my dear), and instead features the microchip and the modem as the mandatory basis for all communications henceforth. As is customary, Alva Noto does a son et lumière version of this record which also involves computers, digital images being manipulated by audio signals and projected on a screen. One digital language mutating another, as it were; I seem to recall this particular trope was meat and drink to Farmers Manual and Hecker over ten years ago, but in some cases artists who followed this path of interchangeable digital information ended up with endless streams of gibberish on their records. Not so our Alva Noto, whose impeccable logic always produces clean and rigourous music, like a diagram for club music, expressed as unadorned thumps, clicks and burrs.

I have a lot of time for Hate-Male, the English creator of very extreme and very loud noise music, even when faced with the rather unsubtle and near-crass imagery that he sometimes uses. The cover for Total Fucking Hate (DOGBARKSSOME DISCS DBSD18), with its lurid pulp paperback gouache image of a fearsome moll in a red dress with an armful of murderous hardware and an expression you could use to sear a ribeye steak, is certainly quite – erm – memorable. The music is pretty hard to recover from, too. On these 11 tracks, one experiences the familiar sensations of tumult and catastrophe normally reserved for earthquakes and collapsing buildings, but in between the now-commonplace harsh noise bursts Lawrence Conquest is making strong use of the human voice, sometimes sampled from records or used as the voice of a mechanical man barking out unintelligible commands, such as on the very effective and nightmarish ‘Live In Vegas – White Night #1′. Guest player Jennifer Wallis adds vocals to the album, maybe here and on ‘Live In Vegas – White Night #2′, but if so her tones have been subjected to some ultra-insane processing method that renders her quite inhuman. Powerful stuff. We also have the lengthy rhythm and echo attacks, such as ‘Under the tent of their rough black wings’ and ‘Taste The Poison’, which are both very heavy going – the noise-listener’s equivalent to a 40-mile forced march in the desert with full military kit. Throughout, Hate-Male is at all times wild and full-on, but also very thoughtful in executing his absurd and crazy dynamics; he uses the digital delay like a paintbox, and he can manipulate tones to ensure that certain abstracted curls and shrieks are foregrounded, so they really stand out sharply from the background fuzz. Among noise-men, many of whom are content to push their pedals to the floor and keep them there, this is a rare talent.

Get Lost (EDITIONS MEGO 123) is the title of a Mark McGuire collection showcasing the solo guitar and synth work of this young American player, fairly well-known by now as a member of Emeralds, the electronic drone-ambient trio from Cleveland. Not especially experimental, this one; a highly melodic release produced by carefully crafted overdubs of stringed and keyboard instruments. The Mike Oldfield of the present time, perhaps, although McGuire doesn’t have quite the same gift for a memorable tune.

On same label as McGuire but a guitarist of quite another stamp is Bill Orcutt, the Harry Pussy guitarist whose return to the performing and recording arena is a well-told tale by now. In February we raved about his A New Way To Pay Old Debts record for this label which compiled some of his earlier private press records, and now here’s How The Thing Sings (EDITIONS MEGO 128), seven new home recordings made in San Francisco. Titles like ‘Heaven is Close to me Now’ and ‘No True Vine’ may put you in mind of Rev Gary Davis, but the comparisons with early pre-war blues have been done to death by now, and in any case they won’t stand when faced with this onslaught of biting, aggressive free guitar improvisation. Orcutt’s technique is to play like a condemned man, packing as many notes as possible into each musical moment, using lots of shorthand and abbreviations, compressing the vital information into taut and urgent phrases before they wheel him away to fry in the hotseat. Plenty of hammering on, string-pulling, unexpected flurries of strumming which stop equally unexpectedly; it’s almost an alarming listen. Lovers of Derek Bailey’s music will find much to admire in these fragmented, tuneless clusters, but even Bailey stopped short of putting so much raw emotion and sheer volumes of angst into the steel strings as Orcutt does. And if you like to share another man’s pain, you’ll love his vocalising too – unrestrained yawping with no attempt to form recognisable words, adding to the sense of near-demonic possession. Essential record, 34 minutes of electrifying acoustic playing that instantly forms a cage of barbed razor-wire around your head.

On Deus Ignotus (EPIPHANY 06), English folk singer Andrew King moves away from his recent sea-faring themes in song and makes a return to what he knows best, that is highly personal interpretations of gloomy old ballads and songs sung against industrial-music style backdrops with tape loops, drums and drones. I can’t resist any record which is front-loaded with two all-time great ballads, ‘The Three Ravens’, a song about carrion birds who find a knight’s dead body in the field, and ‘The Wife of Usher’s Well’, a supernatural winter-time song where a mother’s drowned sons come to visit her for one night. For the latter, King’s sepulchral and quavering tones are aptly suited to the grisly and unsettling content, and he transforms that ravens ballad into a sort of inverted battle-anthem with martial drums and declamatory chanting. Other traditional ballad material in like vein on the record includes ‘Edward’, ‘Sir Hugh’ and ‘Lord Lovell’, but the material that represents something of a departure from the norm is that inspired by texts from the gospel and church singing; this includes ‘In Upper Room’ and ‘Judas’, the former King’s interpretation of a poem-novel from the 1950s by David Jones called The Anathemata. I need to research these properly, as they look fascinating. For all these astonishingly innovative and unusual works, King is joined by the musicians Hunter Barr of Knifeladder, industrial music veteran John Murphy, and Maria Vellanz, who adds some devilish violin work. The entire record is an intoxicating mix of industrial music, traditional folk, religious song and psalmery, and interminable harmonium drones with doomy drumming, and with its mixed content and wide variety of singing styles, it refuses any sort of easy categorisation. As usual, it’s all tied together by King’s concise annotations, citing his sources and inspirations, drawn from music, literature, and history; 24 pages of information, libretto and images, set in tiny 8pt type, for you to digest and enjoy. King’s music is an acquired taste (like the voice of Peter Bellamy), but it’s hard to overlook the depth of his scholarship and the originality of his ideas. I support him totally, and this – which apparently took over nine years to realise – looks to be one of his best works.

Sun Dogs

Creditable set of instrumental guitar-and-synth rock tunes from UK combo Feorm on what appears to be their debut release (FEN TIGER FENT01CD). Each four or five-minute piece feels like an episode of compressed jamming rather than a composed tune, and while no memorable melodies are emerging from their efforts as yet, they have a clean and distinctive sound, fit well around each other and leave sufficient space for mutual utterances, and manage to arrive at some quite pleasing results thereby. The press release treads carefully around the usual grab-bag of comparison points, which include progressive rock, Krautrock, punk rock and even post-rock (if anyone remembers much about bands like Tortoise and LaBradford), but Feorm are a bit too lovably English to approach any of the heights of excess and grandeur implied by that list, and it’ll take a few more years of seasoned playing before they could deliver anything approaching ‘Dark Star’ or ‘Careful with that axe Eugene’. Indeed their Englishness is such that the label are making much of the fact that the LP was rehearsed and recorded in a barn in rural Norfolk. Much promise here, in between the ambling noodly passages; let’s hope they cut loose and rock a bit louder and harder on their next release.

To my mind, Electric Moon are doing many of the things Feorm wish they could do, even though they are a rampantly eclectic band who self-consciously imitate psych, prog and kraut with relish and without shame, like most of the bands on Sulatron. Flaming Lake (SULATRON RECORDS ST CD-R 013) gives the band four long and sprawling tracks to spread their shimmering, acid-strewn wings and the trio of Alex, Sula Bassana and Komet Lulu wallow in psychedelic, bass-heavy swirlings like titanic cosmic hogs. Not a synth in sight, and all the groovy rich and full-on sounds throb forth from guitar and bass thanks to a generous board of effects pedals, including the ‘electric stullenbox’ which must surely be desired by every axeman who ever stumbled into a guitar shop in Denmark Street. Note also how the cover design goes directly back to the Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau motifs which influenced much psychedelic poster art in the first place. Such is my desire to become engulfed in this lake of fire, I’m currently being kitted out with a new fireproof scuba-diving suit.

From late August, another package from Robert Pepper of PAS Records in Brooklyn. Experi-MENTAL Compilation 2 (PAS RECORDS 012) is a joint release with the Alrealon label in the UK, and presents thirteen bands drawn from both labels and the Zeromoon label to boot. From the latter, we have the very fine Blue Sausage Infant and Violet, but from elsewhere there’s Carey Burtt, Richard Lainhart, Fester, Invisible Hand, The Expanding Man, Black Saturn and more. The comp refuses to follow any given “theme”, and it’s a curious mix of aggressive noise, wayward acoustic improvisation, mellow songs, ambient droning, complex synth electronica, electronic music with beats, melodic synth pop, and sullen inert music. It was produced in conjunction with a music festival of the same name in 2011.

Slicing Grandpa is one of the oddest names for a band we’ve stumbled over in recent weeks. I wish I could figure out who sent me The Abstracticator (PHASE! PHR 80), a 30-minute CDR on a Greek label, which is a winning slab of lo-fi rock punk noise delivered with admirable looseness and laissez-faire by this Seattle based duo, who started out playing in 1993 in New York state. Danger, murk and menace are their meat and drink, and they slip in and out of playing this brilliantly inane rock drivel like idiot-savants, creating sudden lulls to deliver eccentric vocal and percussion episodes. This interminable grunt might have been recorded at the wrong end of a vacant warehouse, or performed at a live gig at 3am, or both; it’s about as rough quality as you can get without resorting to taping over used cassettes (maybe they did that too), and part of any sense of coherence that spins off this shouty, grunged-up racket is down to the primitive stop-start edits as much as the primitive stop-start playing. Like Borbetomagus, it seems the band never lower themselves by deigning to “practice” their music more than is needed, which is about once a year. Good for them! Who knows, the grandpa they’re slicing up could be the decaying corpse of rock music itself. 60 copies only, nifty screenprinted cover.

As MB, Maurizio Bianchi apparently used to make extreme noise records in the 1980s, not one of which has graced my listening parlour as yet. Now he doesn’t do that any more, and Apokalypsis XXIII (NITKIE PATCH SIX) is a considered and refined set of electro-acoustic compositional work with a biblical theme. The texts on the back seem to be cut-ups of verses from the bible, vaguely matching up to what I regard as the slightly scrambled nature of the music, which pours out of the record like four flavours of jam mixed up with tins of treacle. In vain does the ear grasp for clear patterns or repetitions, and we’re soon lost in the corridors of highly-processed digital abstractions. Despite the imagery of flames and the implied end-of-the-world theme of the title, the music studiously avoids violence and tumult; instead, it emphasises the mysteriousness and opacity of the Revelations of St John the Divine, and may intend to convey the nature of that mystic’s isolated life on the island of Patmos. This one arrived here 25 May 2011.

Fundamental Mantras

The Buddhas of Moscow

We’ve had this Phurpa item on a promo CD since about June this year and then recently we were sent a vinyl edition of same (which remains sealed at time of writing). Trowo Phurnag Ceremony (IDEOLOGIC ORGAN / EDITIONS MEGO SOMA 001) is a double LP by a group of contemporary Russian singers applying themselves to the study, research and performance of an ancient form of Tibetan Buddhist ritual music. Alexei Tegin and his four men play traditional ritual horns and percussion instruments, but their most sonically astounding tour de force is the deep-bass overtone chanting, which they perform very slowly, using a limited range of notes, and forming growly and groany vowel sounds that are extremely alien to the ear. From these five mouths there issue intense reverberations which, given time, could probably grind away an entire mountain. There is no denying the spiritual depth to this music, the ritualistic effects of the chanting meditation, but at the same time it’s also quite terrifying to listen to. Tegin and his crew have been studying this area of music for about fifteen years, they also have some familiarity with ancient musics of Egypt and Iran, and the sleeve notes here provide a condensed history of this particular strain of music which belongs to the Bon tradition, an ancient pre-Buddhist religion which came from Central Asia. While not explicitly stated anywhere, one senses quite strongly that these early “ancestral cults” and “shamanic rites” are the real locus of interest for Phurpa, and they may indeed believe that something powerful and transformative was lost after the arrival of Buddhist monastic ensembles from the tenth century onwards. Further clues are provided by the quasi-mystical titles on the double LP such as ‘Conferring Empowerment and Self-Transformation’ or ‘Emanating the Retinue of the Deity’. Originally recorded in 2005 and released in Russia in 2008, this reissue is the first release on Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint, and it’s also another exotic cultural ingredient in the American’s musical melting pot; hopefully his endorsement will send a few Sunn O))) fans scuttling in the direction of this very unusual release. In some ways, it’s almost the vox humana acoustic equivalent to the slow and deep guitar drones that O’Malley has made into his signature sound; and this ritualistic chanting feels closely attuned to the Sunn O))) visual aesthetic, the “cowled performances” and the photographs of hooded figures performing strange rites on their album covers.

Moving to Montana

Another vinyl release which, for me, only exists as a promo CD in a chipboard cover, is Big Shadow Montana (HELEN SCARSDALE AGENCY HMS 020), an ethereal drone LP in two parts made by the team of BJ Nilsen and Stilluppsteypa. I’ve been slow to make any lasting emotional connection with the work of Icelandic experimenters Stilluppsteypa, but this monolithic mantra-like slow-spinner has enough layers of interest to warrant further delving, a task for which I sense I’ll need a pickaxe and a snow shovel. Hard to identify how this rich mix of vapour-trailing murmur-music was generated or assembled, but it seems analogue synths play a large part, spun together into a gossamer tapestry that stretches on for miles across vague terrains of whiteness. They must have done their editing with a set of miniature hairbrushes, so perfectly are the layered sounds elided like strands of silken hair. This LP is not as quietly wispy as Mirror used to be at their glacial high-point, nor as treacly as the current crop of American synth bands who are working hard to produce their personal reinterpretations of Alpha Centauri mixed with Klaus Schulze’s Cyborg. Inevitably in listening to it or writing about it, I suppose we’ll both be grasping for the usual basket of mixed metaphors that involve weather, landscapes, and empty skies. In fact, I already have. Released in April 2011. Official repro of the sleeve is here.

The Sea, The Sea

Coincidentally, ice and rock are photographed for the cover of The Earth In Play (QUIET WORLD FOURTEEN / FUNGAL 039), an item sent to us personally by Ian Holloway from Swansea. A collaboration with Darren Tate of Monos who provided the guitar, percussion and squeeze box music, the record was made from the piano and flute of Holloway, mixed with his recordings of the sea. You would hardly realise any of this from hearing the music, which is a serene and processed drone where such musical interludes as appear are heavily treated, minimal, ambient, and unobtrusive. Curiously divided into two tracks of five minutes and 30 minutes, it’s the album’s second track which contains the most development and evidence of patient hand-crafting; it moves along slowly from a warm and comforting tone to an atmosphere that is far less reassuring, with vague streaks of darkness appearing in the skies above, and a general air of uncertainty. Holloway reports “it took me about 8 months to get the mix how I wanted it and I’m very pleased with the end result”. Rightly so; it’s a finely-burnished piece where every nuanced sound carries weight, and means something to the overall effect. As ever, ecological sensitivity is the subtext of the work, and many of Holloway’s records exhibit this pleasingly ambivalent relationship with the environment.

The Spires of Pandemonium

Spire Hell Heap (DEBACLE RECORDS DBL 047) was released in July by Summon Thrull, who is the Seattle-based synth player Dustin Kochel who also performs as one third of Physical Demon. Their Hyperdrift CD from 2010 was a stirling example of nightmarish industrial noise, and Spire Hell Heap hits some of the same marks with its unstinting use of distortion, maltuned synths, brutal repetitions and percussive thuds, thumping and buffeting tape loops, and its peculiar air of imminent menace. However, Summon Thrull is also occasionally capable of tempering his blasts of foul weather with sweeter tones that peep through the smog and clouds like flashes of blue sky. Mostly though, he rules his domain with an iron fist and keeps his subjects oppressed under the heavy yoke of dreary noise. Despite psychedelic pastel shades of the cover art, this is a dark and grim album.

Cheezit, The Cops

Circumstantial Pestilence (MIND FLARE MEDIA MFM005) is the first CD release by Cheezface, an alter ego that conceals the name of Bryan Stancil, a man given to delivering uncompromising and confrontational near-naked live performances that involve assaulting the audience with extreme beat-based electronic noise, advancing his intentions still further with his use of a grotesque horror mask. Stancil is determined to prove that, when it comes to music software, there’s no pushing him around and he’ll willingly arm-wrestle any computer program in the house. The release comes with plenty of stinky cartoon artworks by Lou Rusconi, where he effectively remakes Breughel’s The Triumph of Death as a sick inverted Disney epic for the front cover, and gleefully spews out plenty of blood, death, fire and maggot-infested images elsewhere on the package. The track titles promise equal amounts of chaos-filled mayhem as they cheerfully rip through the usual taboos, fecal and urinary imagery to the fore, and while I didn’t find the music quite as wild or shocking as all the above might lead one to believe, there’s plenty of strong imagination on offer. The electronic sounds are ugly, sullen and grisly, the samples are sparingly used and actually quite witty with their scatological asides, the beats are programmed to deliver insane impossible tempos, and each piece keeps shifting direction and timbre with the restless energy of a school of hungry Piranha fish. 24 minutes of unkempt, ill-behaved oddness.

Towards Solitude

From April 2011, a recent piece of Hari Hardman Produkt is a cassette tape wrapped in a band of emery paper. Yooch. Not one for sensitive fingertips, and a nod to a nihilistic cultural strategy used knowingly for an LP by Durutti Column (LP wrapped in sandpaper) whose designers copied it from a Situationist art book by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn. Aim was to produce a book which would physically attack any other books shelved either side of it, gradually eroding them away. Live At Pino Mare (H023) is just two pieces of brutal minimalist monotony-noise in ten minutes. It will gradually erode away the listener. Hardman declares the music was “realised through Autnagogic Auditory Hallucinations”, thereby invoking everything from a La Monte Young dream-music to lucid dreaming techniques by way of sleep-learning, self-hypnosis, and psychedelic drugs. In all probability, such a strategy does not actually exist. I do not recommend you play this tape before nodding off last thing at night, nor to keep it under your pillow, as it may provoke sick nightmares. On the other hand it may also transmit a stream of valuable data and implant it directly into your cerebellum. The real Pino Mare is a popular seaside resort in Italy. I very much doubt if the music was actually recorded live at that endroit, as they don’t actually have a Butlins or equivalent venue, but perhaps Hari Hardman is capable of out-of-body experiences when inducing his own hallucinations.

An impressive belt of ascetic and crystal clear music with deep spiritual overtones is Aestuarium (SOMA 002), an LP released in June 2011 on Stephen O’Malley’s SOMA label via Editions Mego. The singer Jessika Kenney and violinist Eywind Kang both contributed parts and ideas to Sunn O)))’s recent Monoliths and Dimensions album, and so impressed was O’Malley that he arranged for a reissue of this 2005 collaboration which had previously been available as a CDR from Endless Records. Using just voice and viola, the duo deliver themselves of five minimalist meditational psalms, invoking “Gaelic psalmery and Tibetan notational gestures”; this may be seen as an attempt to find common ground between western and eastern religions, but also results in a very limited melodic scale, just one of the many rigourous hardships self-imposed by the duo as they produce these slow and achey lamentations that are intended to find consonances between salt water and fresh water. Not content with that, Renaissance science is also brought into the mix with a reproduction of Giordano Bruno’s Speculum Magorum on the front cover, and a further musical aspect with the “microtonality of the tetrachord”. Some of these notions border on the pretentious for me, but I can forgive everything when faced with music of such breathtaking clarity, simplicity and beauty. The discipline of the work is key; not a single wrong note has ended up on the record, and every vocal strain and bowed note shines forth with the weight and import of the utterance of a hermetic mystic or ascetic monk who has been subsisting on a diet of mouldy roots for 18 years. This project has also been highly instructive for the musically omnivorous O’Malley, who has now found a way into the “spectral” music of composers Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail as part of his ongoing musical research.

Lucia Mense is an academically trained recorder player who is at home performing Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance music, but for Electronic Counterpoint (SATELITA 004) we find her collaborating very successfully with contemporary composers and performing with her acoustic instruments alongside live electronics and computer treatments. The Canadian Mark Sabat wrote a six-part work in celebration of flowering vegetables, and the results are six sprightly dance pieces with a pagan undertone that wouldn’t have been out of place in an alternative version of the Carmina Burana. Manfred Stahnke is more up to date with his ‘Impansion Expansion’ piece, which requires computer-processing of Lucia’s bass and tenor recorders; this rather sad and distant work may appear to be a simple exercise in tuning systems and arrangement of tones, but it showcases the acoustic qualities of the recorder beautifully, adding emphasis through judicious use of digital echo and multiple layers of recording. Computers and pre-records are also used on Sascha Lino Lemke‘s composition, which is asking pointed questions about contemporary life and the preservation of personal digital content; the music is somewhat disjunctive and Mense is required to make her alto recorder squeak and fidget like a high-octane mouse. Any more of this breathy improvisational work and she’ll be invited to join Phosphor any day. Next comes the astonishing ‘Black Smoker’ composed by Ulrich Krieger, for me the most deeply affecting and successful piece on the release. California-based Krieger is, like O’Malley above, another musical omnivore who composes, improvises, plays chamber music and electronic music, and draws no boundaries between free noise, heavy metal and ambient music. His own career and experience in working the saxophone may have enabled him to compose music which is undoubtedly very sympathetic to the qualities of Mense’s sub-bass recorder. The ubiquitous MAX/MSP software was used to process the sound on this hymn to hydrothermal vents, fissures in the earth’s surface which exist on the ocean floor (I’m not making this up), and it’s a sumptuous long episode of slow-moving microtonal droning that must have required every last drop of Mense’s superhuman technical resource to realise. Put another way, she must have iron claws which grip the recorder like a mechanical derrick. And if you think playing a sub-bass recorder is a cinch, just try Googling for a picture of one; some of them are about ten feet tall and I doubt if I could even pick one up, let alone hold it in place. As to that, it might have been nice to provide some pictures of the instruments and performer in the booklet here, but the cover artworks by Frau W are suitably abstract and intriguing.

Speculative Solution (EDITIONS MEGO 118 / URBANOMIC UF13) contains some works of electronic music by Florian Hecker, but that’s just one part of the package of this boxed set which also includes a 158-page booklet of texts, and five little ball-bearings. The music is apparently an expression of the concept of “hyperchaos” as set forth by the French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux, who also provides an essay in the booklet called ‘Metaphysics and Extro-Science Fiction’; the other contributors are Robin Mackay and Elie Ayache, and the text is printed in English and French. The expectation is that we play the electronic music very loud and that we read, re-read and even read aloud the texts in the booklets; at some point Hecker’s music, methodologies and experimental approaches will be seen to align themselves with the ideas of Meillassoux, Mackay and Ayache. No suggestion is made as to what we do with the ball-bearings, although as they roll around the bottom of the box they probably demonstrate something about anti-matter in space, or the behaviour of subatomic particles, or something. As a non-scientific person, I freely admit all of this is beyond my ken, and I haven’t made the slightest headway in attempting to penetrate the dense printed texts; anything that discusses “catalytic objects”, “prosthetics for spiritual exercises” and “the notion of ascesis” on the second page loses my attention instantly. However, the disjunctive music is very interesting and even rewarding on some level, providing you enjoy listening to tones that have been rendered clinical, hyper-precise and inhuman to the point of absurdity, and which project themselves out of the speakers with the same relentless and unexpected energy as if they were Quarks shot from a particle cannon. I realise the project is probably intended to be provocative in some way (Urbanomic also publish the writings of Ray Brassier, whose radical texts have been quite influential on Mattin’s current thinking), and I completely respect Hecker’s willingness to engage with cutting-edge scientific theory and his intellectual ability to do so, but Speculative Solution doesn’t seem to be working very hard to make the ideas more intelligible to idiots like me. When Disinformation (for example) flirted in the limbo between scientific ideas and ambient music, he was at least making the effort to explain things, ensuring that we understood some of the core concepts behind the functionality of sound mirrors or shortwave radio waves. Conversely, I find the texts in Speculative Solution are incomprehensible and alienating.

Good Friday (TSP radio 10/04/09)

  1. Jean-Luc Guionnet, ‘Unda Maris’
    From Pentes, FRANCE A BRUIT SECRET 07 CD (2002)
  2. Alfred Schnittke, ‘Two Small Pieces for Organ, #1′
    From RUSSIA MELODIYA SUCD 10-00066 CD (1990)
  3. Charlemagne Palestine, ‘Strumming Music’ (1987)
    From Godbear, NETHERLANDS BAROONI BAR019 CD (1997)
  4. Morton Feldman, ‘Principal Sound’ (1980)
    From Organ Music of the USA, SWEDEN BIS BIS-CD-510 (1992)
  5. William Basinksi, Untitled (Track 2)
    From Melancholia, USA 2062 0301 CDR (2003)
  6. Henry Flynt, Celestial Power (1981)
    From USA RECORDED NO NUMBER 2 x CD (2001)

No announcements. All selections segue.

Good Friday 2007 (TSP radio show 06/04/07)

  1. Washington Phillips, ‘Denomination Blues parts 1 and 2′ (1927)
    From Denomination Blues, HOLLAND AGRAM BLUES AB 2006 LP (ND)
  2. Terry Riley, extract from ‘Performance Two (24 May 1972, Paris)’
    From Persian Surgery Dervishes, FRANCE SHANTI 83.501-83.502 2 x LP (1972)
  3. Eddie Head and his Family, ‘Down On Me’ (1930)
    From American Primitive Vol 1: Raw Pre-War Gospel (1926-36), USA REVENANT 206 CD (1997)
  4. Olivier Messiaen, ‘Séquence du Verbe, Cantique Divin’
    From Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine, FRANCE ERATO STU 70200 LP (ND)
  5. Ralph Lundsten, ‘Tillkomme Ditt Rike’
  6. Ralph Lundsten, ‘Ske Din Vilja’
    From Fadervar, original issue EMI E 061-34608 LP (1972)
  7. Alan Watts, ‘Umdagumsubudu’ (fade) (1962)
    From This is IT, USA LOCUST MUSIC L 48 CD (2004)
  8. William and Versey Smith, ‘Sinner You’ll Need King Jesus’
    From American Primitive Vol 1, op cit.
  9. Alan Watts, ‘Fingernail Poem’
    From This is IT, op cit.
  10. Robert Ashley, extract from In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven there were men and women (1972)
    ITALY GET BACK GET 413 LP (2002)
    Original issue Nova Musicha No-3, ITALY CRAMPS RECORDS 5206 103 (1974)
  11. Alan Watts, ‘Gagaku-Ku’
    From This is IT, op cit.
  12. Charles Ives, ‘Chorale and Finale’
    From The Celestial Country, USA CRI SD 314 LP (1973)
  13. Oren Ambarchi and Robbie Avenaim, ‘Atzilut’ (fade)
    From The Alter Rebbe’s Nigun, USA TZADIK TZ 7131 CD (1999)
  14. Rapoon, ‘Awi’
    From Raising Earthly Spirits, THE NETHERLANDS STAALPLAAT STCD 063 CD (1993)
  15. Dennis Crumpton and Robert Summers, ‘Everybody Ought to Pray Sometime’
    From American Primitive Vol 1, op cit.
  16. Olivier Messiaen, ‘Majesté du Christ demandant sa gloire À son Père’
    From L’Ascension, FRANCE ERATO STU 70673 LP (1975)
  17. Ralph Lundsten, ‘Amen’
    From Fadervar, op cit.

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM

Good Friday (TSP radio show 14/04/06)

  1. John Coltrane, ‘Ascension (part 2)’ (fade) (1965)
    From Ascension, UK JASMINE RECORDS JAS 45 LP (1970)
  2. Thomas Tallis, extracts from Cantiones Sacrae Volume One
    Sung by Cantores in Ecclesia (Michael Howard)
    UK L’OISEAU-LYRE (DECCA) SOL 311 LP (1969)
  3. Terry Riley, ‘Chorale of the Blessed Day’
    From Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets, GERMANY KUCKKUCK 067 LP (1983)
  4. Olivier Messiaen, ‘Offertoire: Les choses visibles et invisibles’
    From Messe de la Pentecôte, FRANCE CALLIOPE CAL 1927 LP (ND)
  5. Pierre Henry, ‘La Bête de La Mer’ (1968)
    From Apocalypse de Jean, FRANCE MANTRA RECORDS 080 2 x CD (1994)
  6. Charlemagne Palestine, ‘Alloy’ (fade) (1969)
    From Alloy (Golden 1), ITALY ALGA MARGHEN plana-P 13NMN.035 CD (2000)
  7. Alfred Deller, ‘Iam Christus astra ascenderat’ (Tallis)
    From 50 Years of The Deller Concert, VANGUARD CLASSICS 99220 2 x CD (2000)
  8. Morton Feldman, ‘Voice, Violin and Piano’ (1976)
    From Only. Works for Voices and Instruments, USA NEW ALBION RECORDS NA085CD CD (1996)
  9. Krzysztof Penderecki, extract from Lukas-Passion (1967)
    GERMANY HARMONIA MUNDI 157 EX 19 9660 3 2 x LP (ND)
  10. Albert Ayler, ‘Holy Family’
    From Lörrach / Paris 1966, SWITZERLAND hat MUSICS 3500 2 x LP (1982)
  11. Blind Willie Johnson, ‘John the Revelator’ (1930)
    From Anthology of American Folk Music Volume Two. Edited by Harry Smith, USA SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS RECORDINGS SW CD 40090 6 x CD (1997)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM

Good Friday (TSP radio show 25/03/05)

Theme: ‘Holy Minimalists with Sacred Song’

A species of ‘radiophonic composition’ layering drones with vocal music.
Operated by the staff at Resonance 104.4 FM (EP was on holiday).

Part 1 included:
Drones by Charlemagne Palestine, ‘Holy 1′, ‘Holy 2′ and ‘Piano Drone’
From Alloy (Golden 1), ITALY ALGA MARGHEN plana P 13NMN.035 CD (2000)

Songs and vocal music by Penderecki, ‘In Pulverem Mortis’, ‘Agnus Dei’ and ‘Veni Creator’
From Stabat Mater: Complete sacred works for chorus a cappella, GERMANY WARNER MUSIC / FINLANDIA RECORDS 4509-98999-2 CD (1995)

Thomas Tallis, ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’ (performed by The Alfred Deller Consort)
From The Lamentations of Jeremiah The Prophet, VANGUARD CLASSICS 08 5062 71 CD (1994)

Keiji Haino, ‘My Only Friend’ and ‘What Stalking Fate!’
From A Challenge to Fate, FRANCE LES DISQUES DU SOLEIL ET DE L’ACIER CDSA 54029 CD (1995)

Part 2 included:
Drones by Jon Gibson, ‘Visitations I’, ‘Visitations II’ and ‘Cycles’
From Visitations I & II + Thirties, ITALY NEW TONE NT 6747 2 CD (1996)

Vocal music by Hildegard of Bingen (performed by Sequentia)
From Voice Of The Blood, GERMANY DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 05472 77346 2 CD (1995)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM