Tagged: sound art

San Fil

Another gem from the UK Linear Obsessional label. We’ve followed Richard Sanderson’s label pretty much from its inception and it seems there are at least three strands of sound he’s interested in publishing – free improvisation, sound art, and experiments with hardware and software. In the latter category, the recent release by Phil Maguire is a strong example with his radical experiments with the Raspberry Pi. We now add Dirch Blewn to the list, since many of the tracks on his Axis (LOR 089) CDR owe their existence to a toy called Plumbutter, which is a home-made synthesiser unit created in recent years by Peter Blasser, a device described by one enthusiast as having “a distinct philosophy behind it”. You could say the same about a Dyson vacuum cleaner, a household unit which has endeared itself to many with the way it seems to express the idiosyncrasies of its inventor 1 I can see how the latest iteration of this Plumbutter thing would appeal to a certain mindset; currently it looks like a cross between a wooden toy and a lego brick. With its coloured patch plugs spread all over the board in a semi-chaotic fashion, it seems to invite the sort of wild experimentation promised by the old VCS3, as much as saying “try me!” in a little friendly voice. Although it seems Plumbutter is mainly good at drum machine sounds, there’s nothing it can’t do when it finds its way into the hands of someone as imaginative and exploratory as Dirch Blewn.

That’s only one part of the Axis story, though. Field recordings play a big part, as do many types of percussion, mostly wooden and perhaps some metal percussion. In his elliptical notes, at one stage Dirch Blewn summarises the album as “an album of wood recordings through a metal gong”. The field recordings show a close attachment to nature, including rain fall and bird song, and these things are deployed in a highly mysterious fashion. I mean that we’re not always sure what we’re hearing (we’re never sure what we’re hearing, in fact) and even the creator himself seems to be amazed by the things he’s managed to capture on his tapes (or hard drives, or however it’s realised).

I’m trying to drop hints as to the slightly uncanny nature of this release, an intangible element to which the press notes allude by resorting to words such as “arcane” and “esoteric” and “haunting”. Dirch Blewn himself declines to explain, other than in somewhat cryptic notes which list the ingredients or recipes (with shopping lists of equipment used) for each piece, but he remains silent as to his motivations or intentions. There’s some playful definitions and redefinitions of the word “axis” (puns are permitted in this game) as he concisely describes some experience which might be a vague odyssey through the woods leading to a spiritual epiphany, or simply an outdoor camping trip. He intersperses the notes with images of rocks collected by some woman in Iceland, shown photographed in loving close-up and revealing the details all manner of unusual volcanic formations, sometimes encrusted with algae or lichens. “These things are all connected, but only in my head”, is all he will tell us. I think it behooves us to respect this somewhat gnomic uttering, and bend our ears to these unusual micro-sounds, attempting to join the dots in our own time.

Dirch Blewn is David Bloor from South London, who is also represented (under his own name) on a recent comp called Sounding D.i.Y from elektronische art and music. Very happy to receive this unusual release; I feel that Dirch Blewn is far more valuable than a simple process artist, and he’s not exploring these invisible microscopic areas just for the sake of generating unusual sonic textures. There’s a real power and depth to this work. From 25th November 2016.

  1. At least it used to; I’m not sure about the more recent models.

Factory Direct

On Factory Photographs (ROOM 40 EDRM426), two Australian sound artists calling themselves Hexa attempt to represent images of factories in sound. And goodness me, what a literal job they’ve made of it; these would-be abstract sounds quickly resolve themselves into sound-images of crashing metal, machine presses, steam, sparks, foundries, whistles, hooters, and many other prosaic interpretations of what a factory makes or does. The images in question were created by everyone’s favourite limner of the bleak industrial landscape, David Lynch, who has been doing it in cinema since the late 1970s (and in my view rarely surpassed his take on gloomy factories since Eraserhead). As a sideline to his cinematic work, Lynch has been taking photographs of disused and abandoned factories for many years, a fact which somehow fails to surprise me. I’d also point out that disused and abandoned factories have been preoccupying many other visual artists for some time, and we’ve reviewed a few of the results in these pages. The idea to create this banal sound-fest was down to Jose Da Silva, who commissioned the work while there was a Lynch exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art in 2015. Hexa are Lawrence English and his friend Jamie Stewart, who have been collaborating since 2009; they are planning an audio-visual version of this album using Lynch’s images. This probably isn’t as objectionable as I am making it seem, but if you compare it with the eerie and subtle sound effects that Alan Splet and Lynch created for their films, it feels rather overstated and superfluous. Lynch was profoundly and personally affected by the urban squalor he beheld in Pennsylvania and continues to explore it, for reasons that are probably mysterious even to him. I’m just not feeling the same depth or obsessive qualities from this Hexa record. From 27th October 2016.

World Without End

Cover of promo copy

Mystical droney sound art from Ariel Guzik has been captured on the LP Cordiox (VON023), a limited edition LP from the VON label. This wasn’t really produced as an album, but it captures some episodes from a sound installation called the Cordiox which Guzik made in Venice, a 12-foot high sound sculpture which was exhibited in San Lorenz Church in Venice as part of the Biennale. The sculpture seems to be made of quartz and wires, but from pictures found online there also appears to be a wooden box with knobs, dials, and lights which looks like a Renaissance art version of a synthesizer, and may or may not have some connection with the sculpture itself. On the record are some very solemn drones and resonating purrs, with faint echoes of a chiming sound of some sort buried in these multi-layered depths. One of the accomplishments of Guzik’s sound in this case is that it defies conventional musical notation as it spontaneously generates harmonic series that are impossible to capture. “Invisible magnetic forces” propel the work and create these sounds.

Actual LP cover

Invisible forces seem to have preoccupied Guzik for 25 years; this Mexican-born creator and polymath has worked at the Nature Expression and Resonance Research Laboratory in Mexico all that time, where he concerns himself with “the phenomena of resonance, mechanics, electricity, and magnetism”, all of which can be harnessed to make music. Unlike conventional scientific research, which sometimes might appear intent on explaining everything away, it is Guzik’s mission to preserve the mysteries of creation, and imagination and fantasy play a large part in his work also. Press notes supplied here by Karla Jasso and Carlos Casas speak freely of time-travel and dreaming when they encounter this strange music; Casas, at least, has been fortunate enough to visit the installation in situ, and returned with a fanciful tale about the dream of Marconi along the lines of “sound never dies…it emanates and resonates eternally”. Casas is convinced we can gain insights into the past, present and future through contemplation of the Cordiox. The label owners are persuaded that this LP is “the most hermetic and fabulous” release in their catalogue. From 27th October 2016.

Depth Of Field

Service Supreme

Cutting a similar path to Aussie drone-based groovers (and associates) like Oren Ambarchi, The Necks, Simon James Phillips and Matthew Philip Hopkins, the Australia-based trio Great Waitress (Magda Mayas, Monika Brooks and Laura Altman) are a revealing new puzzle piece in a distinctly antipodean improvised music scene: an identity-subsuming, New World tradition of tonality tinkering and free-floating, low-frequency harmonics that suffuse space with the no-nonsense savour of a long-nosed cab sauv. Possessed of the prowess that comes with conservatory training, the trio’s depersonalised apparition of piano, accordion and clarinet prises open space with a knife’s width of elbow play; pushing minimal phrases to the point of constraint, then further, into a vortex between ambient amnesia and semi-improvised composition, tweaking, teasing and even torturing pitch to a neck-hair tingle before the spectral mass solves into a tarpaulin-shrouded fog. Hue (ANOTHER DARK AGE ADA006 LP) is said to summarise the two prior albums, released since Great Waitress’ 2011 formation; a nascency that stands in relief to the group’s full-bodied harmonic cohesion, yet also a reminder of how recently this ‘scene’ has cohered.

A Field in England

Highly approachable guitar & electronics post-rock from Bristol on The Road To The Unconscious Past (ECHOIC MEMORY EM005), even if it sounds less suggestive of its polished urban provenance than of some anonymous idyll. John Scott aka Stereocilia fans out a familiar formula for tape loops and synth-based drones and takes flight on Stars Of The Lid-style Kosmiche angel wings, his effervescent efforts passing in and out of focus, exuding clear contentment in an echo-based semi-present haze. Till side B anyway, when ‘Infinite’ – the closest we have to a cosmic jam – pulses into view on an ELEH-style hypnodrone, issuing trains of serrated guitar lines in all directions and pushing up the listener’s pulse some. But this pleasing push of the envelope is quickly curbed in ‘Sustain/Release’ with the restoration of the preceding pastoralia; a regressive move after such a promising surge into new territory and a general reflection of the unfulfilled promise of the album as a whole, which could really do with moving a little farther afield from its starting point than it does.

Rocking Out

‘Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead…’ begins James Joyce’s Ulysses, though surely few of the novel’s well-meaning readers have made the acquaintance of ‘the superior, the very reverend John Conmee S.J’ in the ‘Wandering Rocks’ chapter, for it’s an assuredly arduous journey to reach this point, let alone the book’s final affirmation, especially for those prone to distraction and it is from this section and sentiment that François Sarhan pulls the title for his recent installation piece Wandering Rocks / Commodity Music (LA MUSE EN CIRCUIT ALM007), where visitors passing through the encircling sound field play the part of the rocks adrift and a fragment of James Joyce’s reading of said text infuses this 35-minute long, electroacoustically-enhanced improvisation for prepared piano, guitar (quartet, Zwerm) and electronics with so despondent an antidote to an otherwise ostensible attitude of passive attentiveness as can be wrought when even the painfully quotidian satire of Joyce’s post-heroic modernist masterpiece represents an Olympian ambition to the media-deadened senses, perhaps eliciting in our composer a sense of resignation that few listeners will probe the surface of this friendly flow of naturalistic timbres and textures – an emulation by means of extended technique of the elemental components (rocks, waves and synthetic turquoise breeze) of the seashore photograph on the cover – to penetrate beyond the point of attention wandering from one rock to the next, moments of cognitive dissonance in their fitful overlappings – though becoming markedly more pronounced as the piece ages its way into Commodity Music, where a gush of anti-capitalist rhetoric to heavy phasing and an almost oriental modal arpeggiation puts the proverbial fat-cat among the proletariat to yield a more strident, pointillistic energy to our hitherto soft-focus panorama, which occasion Sarhan utilises to reflect upon the ‘sad truth that music per se is disappearing from our life… because of our difficulties to focus (sic) on an exclusive and demanding concentration to listen to it…’, before going on to lay blame upon the plastic wrapped vacuum of televisual culture as the cause of popular culture’s almost anhedonic disinterest in Art, and offering this digest version of his expansive and physical sonic experience as a concession to such vicissitudes… so should one listen to it on headphones? No.

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.

The Masked Ball

On Before I Was Invisible (SIREN WIRE / WILD SILENCE), Welsh songstress and pianist/composer Susan Matthews teams up with the French visual artist, record collector and musician Rainier Lericolais. This multi-media fellow has hung his work in many French galleries and collaborated with a number of excellent musicians; it seems he’s released over a hundred records, with evocative titles such as Médiumnique Musique and My Song Exaggerated To Dilate Horizontally. He and Matthews have worked together before, for instance on When The Ghosts Are Within These Walls and Homothetique Ricochet, both small-run editions published in 2008 by Matthews on her own Siren Wire Records imprint. Lericolais lends his collage skills to create the cover artworks for this album. They’re a tad conventional, in thrall to Max Ernst, but that’s no bad thing – and they suit the mood of this delicate and enchanting release.

‘The Healer’s Art’ is an extended work of minimal piano trills, gently pulsating electronic tones, and a compelling mood so taut you hardly dare to breathe…occasionally interrupted by fragments of a song delivered in a hesitant voice, a plaintive whine from a woodwind instrument, and distorted found recordings that might be coming from the mouth of a mechanical doll made in the time of Benjamin Franklin. If the plan was to try and pin down the mysterious moods of a dream on tape, much as the surrealists aspired, then the collaboration can be counted a success. Some may scorn its fragile and introverted cheapest kamagra oral jelly uk surface; not me. If you enjoy the somnambulist worlds of Joe Frawley, this eerie broadcast from the night gallery is the one for you.

‘Truth Past the Dare’ is likewise a series of long tones, presented in an unhurried and non-linear fashion…the musicians seem to bring in sounds or musical drones as needed, rather than adhere closely to a schematic plan. Intuition may be a key word here. A beautiful piece to be sure, even if at times it comes close to tipping over into romantic sentimentality.

‘Your Ghost Moves With Me’ is a piece which in title continues the preoccupation with departed souls and vanished friendships, themes alluded to on the earlier 2008 album, and is another highly beguiling work; the voice of Matthews is repeated and overlaid in short, non-logical loop patterns, producing strange overlaps and harmonies, the breathing and short phrases creating a diaphanous mosaic of sound. This translucent veil of vocal music is occasionally bolstered with percussion samples that appear like unexpected supernatural visitors, and the puzzling mood is deepened as the track develops into a quiet and meditative stretch, with very distant and muffled piano music, backwards tapes, and other foreign elements. This piece builds on the dream-like atmosphere established by track 1, and whisks us away further down the pathways of Slumberland towards an oneiric oblivion. We might never wake up again, and we feel excited by the dangerous prospect. From 17th October 2016.

RIP Erkki Kurenniemi: farewell to a major experimental / electronics music pioneer

RIP Erkki Kurenniemi (1941 – 2017)

News of Finnish experimental / electronic music pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi’s death at the age of 75 years on 1 May 2017 was a shock to me: his actual output of music has been small compared to others of his generation but that’s due to the many interesting twists and turns his life took over the decades. The news prompted me to revisit a compilation of his early works that I’d reviewed years ago for TSP: “Aanityksia / Recordings (1963 – 1973)” released by Love Records (LXCD637) way back in 2002. The compilation contains nearly everything Kurenniemi made while employed as a volunteer assistant working towards a science degree in the Department of Musicology at the University of Helsinki.

Playing that compilation again, I’m amazed at the incredible of sounds Kurenniemi achieved and the cheerful fun and playfulness emanating from these tracks. From the loud and brash tape feedback noise of “On-Off” to the skritchy craziness of “Antropoidien tanssi”, to the mellow stateliness that becomes zanily deranged on “Inventio / Outventio”, to the near-hysterical wailing of “Preludi” or the equally demented “Nimeton” which builds up to a chaotic pyromanic climax, Kurenniemi’s curiosity and mischievous sense of humour power these tracks’ sounds and melodies to their utmost and reveal the sonic universe they inhabit as fun and at the same time extraordinarily rich in its minimalism. The last two tracks on the album (one “Mix Master Universe” done in collaboration with Jukka Ruohomaki) are long montages of various tape recordings with one track featuring a sing-along by Kurenniemi’s friends; these are not quite as enthralling as the earlier, shorter tracks, and they meander quite a bit but they still have their moments of easy amusement and joy.

Those interested in reading about Erkki Kurenniemi and why his career as an electronics music pioneer and inventor of electronic musical instruments faded away in the mid-1970s can start with his entry on Wikipedia which reveals that among other things he worked for now-defunct industrial design company Rosenlew and the more famous company Nokia designing industrial robotics systems during the 1980s. As interest in his early music and film work revived in Finland and around the world in the early 2000s, Kurenniemi returned to designing and making electronic musical instruments. He also became a commentator on future trends and developments in science and technology for Finnish TV networks. An interesting aside is that Kurenniemi’s mother Marjatta is famous in her own right as a writer with her own entry on Finnish-language Wikipedia.

Kurenniemi’s films (14 in all) and some of his early musical inventions and robot designs are being archived and preserved by art galleries and museums in Helsinki and Stockholm. His reputation in different fields of art, science and technology, and Finnish media is sure to grow after his death. Years may pass before his legacy to Finnish art, music and culture is fully recognised and acknowledged. RIP Erkki Kurenniemi.

For Absent Friends

Jana Irmert is a Berlin sound artist who has mostly tended to produce audio-visual installations, using video projections, projected slides, and immersive sound environments through PA systems. A number of these are described on her website, along with notes indicating her intentions. She has now recast a number of her installations to create an audio CD, called End of Absence (FABRIQUE RECORDS FAB060CD), and it’s motivated by an explicit attempt to meet the audience halfway, so that more listeners can enjoy her work without the need for an elaborate installation set-up. There’s also the idea that by listening to the six pieces as a “unit” – her term for what we mere mortals would have called an “album” – we might learn more about the world of Jana Irmert. There is a certain unity to End of Absence, but I can’t report an unqualified success; it’s very hard to find a way in to these wispy, atmospheric pieces. However, she’s set herself a very difficult task, pursuing what she terms the “vague, irrational, less tangible” side of life, and attempting to translate her own interiority into sound art in some way, building “atmospheric…sonic spaces”. As an audience, we’re kind of left outside her strange world, and the cold exteriors to these insubstantial pieces are not exactly very inviting to the casual listener. It would help if she could at least crack open a window into one of her hermetically sealed spaces. Opaque, distant, strange. From 3rd October 2016.

Strip the Lining

Jason Kahn
Songline
SWITZERLAND EDITIONS 004 2 x LP (2015)

It must take a bit of dogged self-belief to release a weighty 2LP of one’s own vocal improvisations when a) one is not, by trade, a vocalist and b) one lacks the urgency to make as good a session of it as might happen during an adrenaline-fueled live set, but this is exactly what the prolific, multi-disciplinary journeyman Jason Kahn has done on Songline: four sides of vinyl, four GPS-free vocal improvisations that do what the tin says, or in this case the heavy card sleeve with symmetrical daubings of neon orange poster paint – a primitivist mosaic that as good as informs listeners that while Kahn’s vocal palette may be limited, his strokes are bold and appealingly rough-round-the-edges.

Hiding himself away like some hermit in the main room of a former Swisscom telephone relay station one winter evening in 2015 – the glass-sealed solitude broken only by gurgling from ‘deep in the bowels of the building’ – Kahn bulldozed his voicebox through the twilight with the tenacity of a magic(k)ian intent on invoking and capturing intact guileless, demonic beings. Sealed in the darkness of each groove is a complete idea or expression of a single ‘thematic and technical area’ as he puts it, entering swiftly with side A’s graveyard of gruelling and grievous groans, which reveal some prodigious lung capacity. Some might register death bed exhalations, but they’re more like the respiratory warm up a corpse might carry out when returning to a state of stunted animation. Trying to ‘sing’ along to it soon proves to be an effective exercise for the listener as well, which perversely introduces an audience element into an explicitly one-sided equation. Side B shapes A’s emphysemic pallor into more robust and sustained vowel chants that course through the air like stretched and flattened yodels that get right into the skull if one strays too close; beaming across space like some post-apocalyptic, long-distance communication device. Side C graduates through great globs of glottal, feline hiss and longer pauses between these attacks (on his own throat as much as the now-terrified audience) onto D, where he exhibits his widest range yet of anguished groans, growls, yowls and other tokens of his prolonged discomfort.

By Kahn’s own admission, the recording process was largely an exploration of his vocal limitations; of pushing himself ‘towards the brink of failure… exploring new ground, reaching for the cracks in my vocal chords’ with as best an approximation of the spontaneity one might achieve before and audience. And it’s this same self-aware spirit that makes Songline so easy to return to. There’s a time and a place for the developed comic strip vocalese of your Phil Mintons and Henri Chopins, but Kahn has the good grace to pursue each of his simple ideas to fruition over a full side of vinyl, investing in his performance a level of concentration only possible in a distraction-free environment, where the pursuit of novelty might otherwise derail each train of thought. Kahn makes no claims to grandeur, and in this modesty lies a dash of intrigue.

Esoterica

We have not encountered the work of sound artist Manuel Knapp before, but this Vienna and Tokyo-based fellow has a few scattered releases of electronic noise to his name dating back to around 2008, some of them in conjunction with Tim Blechmann. His LP Azoth 1 (VENTIL RECORDS V0004) does indeed contain some powerful blasts of ear-splitting, scorching noise, but he does it in a very structured and composed way, tempering the extremes with other textures, layers, and moments which are almost melodic in their approach. In this instance, he’s working entirely within the computer, radically departing from his analogue noise roots to experiment with the digital realms. Azoth is realised with freeware plugins for manipulating digital audio, by which I suppose is meant filters and processing tools and digital synths, some of which might even be downloadable from the web. It’s Knapp’s plan to push these tools to their limits, using them for purposes which their authors did not intend.

I’m happy to report Knapp does a very good job of this. While the opening moments of Azoth’s side A were rather irritating – where the limitations of the puny digital tools were clearly exposed – by the end of Side A, and throughout Side B, he’s cheerfully demolishing the world around him as we wallow in a gloriously wild and unfettered orgy of bombistas. Manuel Knapp certainly has his own authorial signature, which is not easy when we’re dealing with the many variant poisons of harsh noise that glut today’s market; it may have something to do with his attention to structure, the use of extreme dynamics, the deliberate programming of musical elements and root-note drones, and a very adventurous spirit when it comes to manipulating these chunks of digital audio and freeware tools. He’s like a bull in a paintbox, a kid in a Play-Dough factory, and a pair of eyes without a face.

I’d like to recommend this album as a product you can rush out and buy, but I’m not sure if I can. To begin with, it costs 666 Euros, a high price which reflects the fact that there are only 15 vinyl copies available for sale. Each one does have a hand-made work of art for a cover, but even so…and why invoke the “number of the beast” for a record which, although noisy, has no discernible satanic connotations? At the hour I write these lines, 5 copies of the vinyl are still available, though I’m mystified as to why the label wish to tell us that this particular pressing and retail deal was their “fastest break-even ever”. Why the heck should we care about their business plan? For those of you disinclined to spend such a high figure on one record, it is possible to hear some of Azoth on their Bandcamp page. Peter Kutin, who is well represented on this label, assisted with the mixing and mastering. From 3rd October 2016.

  1. “Azoth” is an alchemical term. See also Our Glassie Azoth, the superb Welsh noise-drone act whom we interviewed in 1998 and whose records are highly recommended.