Stranger on the Shore

Cremaster once again offer us the finest in Spanish minimal improvised noise, this time using feedback, pickups and something akin to a prepared guitar on Noranta Graus A L’Esquerra (MONOTYPE RECORDS mono 026). The duo of Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro have impressed us in the past with their all-acoustic records of rumbling and rattling made using creaky junk and broken instruments, and some of the same distinctive non-aesthetic applies here. One long musical escapade is divided into four digestible chunks of discombobulated wheezy moanage.

Painting Petals on Planet Ghost is the showcase project for Ramona Ponzini, the talented lady who manages My Cat Is An Alien in Italy. She’s joined by the Opalio brothers playing acoustic guitars and gentle percussive effects on Haru No Omoi (PSF RECORDS PSFD-190), while she sings Japanese poetry in a distant, breathy voice. A delicate, lyrical and very intimate release.

On Polaroid Piano (SOMEONE GOOD RECORDS RMSG007), Akira Kosemura plays the piano as though it’s something so fragile he’s afraid he may break it; a brittle, porcelain sound emerges from this album, full of tiny details and imbued with an aura of nostalgia and wistful longings. At times the sound is muffled to the extent that it is indeed like a Polaroid photo – smeared, unfocused, yet still with some imagistic content of value shining through. Muneki Takasaka (from Paniyolo) contributes guitar on some cuts, and Lawrence English (whom I think has some connections to the record label) adds field recordings to three tracks. Another sad and intimate record.

The duo of Andreas Trobollowitsch and Johannes Tröndle put their noggins together in the duo Nörz, and have come up with a rag-bag of rather disconnected electro-acoustic sounds on the oddly-named release (also known as) acker velvet (SCHRAUM 10). Tapes, guitars, cello, electronics, feedback and radio sounds are all thrown into a cardboard box which is gently rattled about, occasionally resulting in some interesting effects; the duo maintain a faceless anonymity throughout, as is also shown by the nondescript cover art.

Frank Rothkamm has devised another puzzling release of rather queasy and bewildering electronic music, and wrapped it up in a contextual conundrum. Previous releases have alluded to the history of electronic music in both the groves of academe and in the movie theatre (science-fiction soundtracks), but on Ghost of New York (FLUX RECORDS FLX11) the chosen theme is Spiritualism. The track titles refer to ectoplasm and levitation, and there’s an ingeniously concocted spirit photograph on the front cover with all the other artworks tinted in sepia tones to drag the unwary listener back into a semi-fictional past. The back cover view of the Empire State Building is especially striking, for some reason. As usual, Rothkamm offers a rather difficult listen, packed with unnatural electronic sounds and very little underlying structure in evidence, in spite of the very extreme dynamics of composition.

Contemporary American minimalist Cory Allen did the booklet design and played the music on Hearing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Hears (QUIET DESIGN RECORDS ALAS010), five tracks of electronic music which, with its organ sound and use of delay effects, may remind the listener of Terry Riley’s 1960s work (such as Persian Surgery Dervishes). However, Allen’s sound is much cleaner as befits the digital age, and his patterns of notes (much like the patterns of grey and ultramarine dots in the booklet) follow clever and intricate structures that will repay the careful ear.

Two releases of marginal but fascinating music from the micro-label Hymns. Barthel Gadau Kopp Röther Weibel is apparently a collaborative project between three separate entities, and Radio Student‘s (HYMN 30) centrepiece is a puzzling 21-minute melange of varispeeded tapes, radio sounds, voices and shapeless gobbets of noise. This radio session was improvised in Slovenia in 2003, and while it has some nice happy accidents, it feels a bit insouciant and careless; one wonders about the degree of commitment among its participants (CFS, Dobra Minus and The Nautilus Deconstruction). Notorious (HYMN 29), by Chefkirk and Ironing, contains evidence of more craft and to my mind is largely more successful than the above. Roger H Smith and Andrew Chadwick use microtapes, sampler, record player and a mixing desk to mangle and manipulate sources with glee and abandon, allowing small droplets of recognisable elements to leak out from an overall sound field of hissy, broken noise.

Some samples from the above can heard on this podcast.

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