Mechanical bird / music or insects?

Polish avant-electronicist Bartek Kujawski sent me his rather strange Murlull Movies CD (WARSZTAT8R w8r00) direct from his home in sunny Gostynin. Bartek exhibits a very peculiar approach to the art of making records inside a computer (if that is indeed how this oddity has been assembled); he seems interested in ‘melting’ sounds together rather than assembling them in the usual Lego-brick style which most computer buffs go for. While the subtlety of this one’s sonic surface may not have immediate appeal, it’s very much worth investing time just to follow the unusual twists of his mind. He used to call himself The Mechanical Bird (in Polish), and it’s not hard to see why.

Allroh‘s Nym (TROST TRO97) solo CD is causing quite a stir across the European mainland – one woman, one guitar, a very impolite amplifier and a yawping, whooping singing voice are the magic ingredients of this screaming bowl of whey. At a time when I’ve been deluged with a surfeit of minimalist records, loopy Berliner fem-bot Allroh goes for the max in every possible way, almost trying to rebuild every single Iggy and The Stooges LP from scratch as her fingers and tonsils works overtime on these raucous solo cuts. One of these four cuts is quiet and acoustic-ish, but on th’ remaining scorchers you can virtually hear her Sonic Youth LPs in one hand, and her Segovia records in the other (no kidding) as she tears a new pathway across the urban sprawl. Meanwhile, her freewheeling voice is bravely attempting flip-flops that an athlete would fear to contemplate.

Silent Spaniard sound-magus Francisco López hasn’t invaded my consciousness much of late, and I’m happy to report that his newie conops (GD STEREO #GD020) is composed of layered field recordings rather than being one of his near-silent compositions which I have to admit I find so trying to my patience. Here, several recordings from ‘multiple locations’ have been gathered from the man’s travels made between 1990 and 2005, and carefully layered into a highly compelling vision of abstraction. Birds and insect sounds seem to predominate, but unlike Chris Watson who wishes to document these things for their own sake, the strategy here is to build a prismatic, slowly-shifting canopy that starts to assume the proportions of a gigantic vivarium. A good one, joining auspicious company among the catalogue of Geoff Dugan’s superb NYC label.

Alva Noto is another ‘blast from the past’ as far as I’m concerned, a digital maestro whose records I haven’t purposely sought out but it is always nice when I’m sent one of them. unitxt (RASTER NOTON r-n 095) shows Carsten Nicolai has lost none of his austere skills when it comes to deploying minimalistic fragments of digital sonic information in near-musical mathematical patterns. The ruthless precision in these arrangements makes Kraftwerk look like hopeless romantics, yet the tunes are never sterile and always manage to catch fire. This CD is enhanced with the sound of a robotic voice intoning numbers and other information (in French), and is wrapped in the sort of brutalist design that woulda made Walter Gropius proud. In fact, I’ve always thought Alva Noto should get together with Ryoji Ikeda, and form a new school of architecture. The results would be…considerable.

Equally ‘utilitarian’ in its intention, though ending up with quite different results, is Silent Landscapes (RECORDED FIELDS RF002) by Robert Curgenven. Four lengthy tracks, for the most part derived from field recordings, made by Robert during his trips to assorted desolate lands. Sometimes processed and layered, these unearthly visions reveal something about the palpable strangeness and near-alien experiences that can be encountered when one visits these extreme, physical zones. Far from offering us the comfort of a canopy like López, Curgenven is intent on exposing us to the rawness of desert winds and the heat of a merciless sun. Sent from Italy, although the recordings were made mostly in Australia.