Interrogation Marks

The Brighton-based label The Slightly Off Kilter Label is owned by Paul Khimasia Morgan, who sent a couple of seven-inches and two CDRs. At least one of them (I’m Magic – Gimme a Fiver, sok010) by Yeborobo somehow exudes the kind of absurdist zanery that Volcano The Bear would like to think they’ve cornered the market in. Yeborobo seem to be a musical theatre spin-off from something called The Mentalist Association, and the sleeve art to this vinyl monstrosity is electrically charged with intense garish fibre-tip doodles and collage actions that provide a rough-edged window into the inner workings of mental dementia. Expecting an improvement on Trumans Water-styled gibberish from these grooves. Also of likely interest is a CDR by A Middle Sex called Look! (sok017), a perplexing artefact yielding nine cuts by a mystery duo from Manchester; they use live electronics, amplified vocals and a drum kit, hopefully delivering a much-downgraded and distorted version of Silver Apples. The cover art combines crude collage with primary-school painting and promises much in the area of simplistic yet sophisticated joyful noise. Also from this label: the Scythe EP (sok009) by Bela Emerson who saws on her cello and enhances the results with electronic processing; a stark drawing of a dandelion on the cover probably expresses her sense of fragility and aloneness in the cruel world. Liquid Metal Flesh is a generous 2-disc collection of guitar and amplified FX duo improvisations by Adam Lygo and Paul Morgan. The CDs are stencilled and spray-painted silver, and there are pseudo-poetic statements printed on colour photographs as inserts. These visual diversions give me some cause for hope, but a superficial spin suggests mostly aimless and slow noise-plodding on the grooves.

Chris Forsyth is one third of Peeesseye, whose Evolving Ear releases emanating from Brooklyn in NYC often receive a sympathetic audience in the TSP house, even though one never knows quite what to expect. Here he is teamed up with trumpeter Nate Wooley, on The Duchess of Oysterville (CS087 CD), released on Portuguese label Creative Sources. The cover art isn’t giving anything away with its immaculate but opaque photographs of domestic interiors, very carefully framed and rendered by Maria Dumlac from her Interrogation Marks series. I’m expecting some fairly restrained and quiet guitar-and-brass explorations on the 25-minutes of music hereon.

If it’s restraint and focus you’re after though, I guess we need look no further than the new release from Rhodri Davies, the superb Welsh harpist, composer and improviser, in his latest team-up with Ko Ishikawa. Compositions for Harp and Sho (HIBARI-09) is released on Taku Unami’s Hibari Music label in Japan. On it, the duo play compositions by Taku Sugimoto, Masahiko Okura, Antoine Beuger and Toshiya Tsunoda. Tsunoda is a remarkable composer whose approach to making compositions out of field recordings I find to be unique; the results always full of clarity and purpose. The notes to his ‘strings and pipes’ piece allude to very precise tunings for both the instruments, and a deep understanding of sine waves. Sugimoto of course has been noted for his increasingly reductive approach towards minimalist improvisation and composition, two activities which in his world are so closely bound that there appears to be little difference between them. The CD comes as a modest card folder, the disc mounted on a plastic prong, and a simple drawing of a black leather belt on the front cover. But there’s something about the way it curves around the page, and the fact that the inside of the belt is white, that (in my hallucinatory mind) somehow elevate this simple artwork to the status of a philosophical statement; it seems like a belt that could contain the entire universe. Rhodri is an abstemious and thoughtful performer, and has never allowed a single “unnecessary” release to add to the welter of noise pollution in today’s overcrowded musical world; of how many artists can that be said? Expecting great things from this little gem!

Got a couple of new releases from Oral Records in Canada; AUN‘s mule (ORAL CD15) may prove to be little more than ordinary droning ambient electronica, a dreary genre which after more than ten years is still blighting the four corners of the musical globe. However, 01ek‘s Suicide Prevention (ORAL CD17) seems darker and edgier. Its creator Alexander Wilson is an electro-acoustic composer and musical theorist from Montreal, who also works in theatre. With tracks like ‘furniture for the dead’, and the disquieting cover images of old anatomical illustrations, looks like we’ve got another contender anxious to assume the mantle and slip into the gaps left by Coil and NWW.