Black Pepper

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Sindre Bjerga’s Black Paper Wings (LF RECORDS LF030) is a nice snappy piece of live electro-acoustic performance performed at an art gallery in Leipzig. It’s done with cassette tapes, apparently. Much very acceptable throbbing and fizzing noise is generated, punctuated with loose ghosts of speaking voices wafting around the aerospace, while Bjerga manipulates and moulds everything presumably in real time, never allowing his blue suit to become stained with the lazy torpidity of process droning. Sindre is very much a live performance fellow leaping about the arena like some latterday Harlequin, rather than a lump of dough who sits in the studio gathering dust and congealing into mouldy pancake batter. His personal website abounds with lists of gigs he’s going to do or positive reports from gigs he has done, plus nice remarks about musicians he has met and collaborated with, and free bags of sweeties sent to subscribers (I could be lying about one of these). He also finds time to run the Gold Soundz label which has been home to memorable releases of underground noise and drone. Gotta admit he’s a magician with his tape manipulation here, kind of like a rockin’ version of Aki Onda. It’s nice when the LF label takes a break from primitive computer noise and issues a more soothing and “artistic” piece of work like this one. From 27 Dec 2012.

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Still got some catching up to do with the Quiet World label and there is a big bundle of 2013 releases still awaiting our attention. This one by Fazio is from May 2012 and might be sold out at source (50 copies only). The New York musician Mike Fazio has apparently sent various albums of his to Quiet World label boss Ian Holloway, and Holloway liked them so much he decided to release some Fazio music himself. All at once the remote go forth my soul and my seeking, the unknowable becomes known (QUIET WORLD TWENTY EIGHT) is six pieces of quite gentle ambient guitar instrumentals, where any possible harsh edges have been softened through the use of effects pedals, and the notes just blend into a continual textural soup. At first listen the surface sound was a bit too “tasteful” for my ears, but I found it’s worth persevering; Fazio’s playing is actually quite unusual, and he has a fine gift for inventing highly unusual melodies, exploring them in ways that would never have occurred to the average dice-throwing man. Intuitively, he builds structures in his mind and follows them loosely, like ghostly blueprints for music; he’s not just another aimless guitar noodler. I find evidence here of great concentration and intentness, proof that Fazio really gets “into” his music. “Hours of immersive fun”, is Holloway’s personal guarantee. The lengthy title (ditto track titles) also suggests a poetic and literary bent, which is to be encouraged, and hints at Fazio’s metaphysical and spiritual ambitions; he may be aiming to become the Herman Hesse of guitar music, a mantle previously held by Daniel Fichelscher.

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Another spooksome droner from Simon Balestrazzi, the Italian supernatural spirit-lover who hopefully dwells in an ornate Gothic mansion near Casamari Abbey, and wears a dark serge suit while cultivating his window boxes full of deadly nightshade and hellebore. La Montaña Sagrada (SANTOS PRODUCTIONS SNTSR11) of course translates as “holy mountain”, likely confirming Balestrazzi, whose name translates as “bellow of a whale”, as another of the cult of fans who worship at the temple of film-maker Jodorowsky while contemplating their own personal rites of unspeakable and forbidden acts. Even the first track is called ‘Opening Ritual’, and there are mysterious references to perfume, blood, the Rainbow Room and leopard’s milk. He created these five tracks of lengthy instrumental layerings using a familiar array of percussion and keyboards (not unlike the set-up used by Danish droner Elektronavn), but this release stands apart from 99 other murky wailers due to the exceptionally vivid sound captured on the finished item. Every instrument is clearly separated, and even the smallest pluck of a metallic stringed instrument is audible in this well-planned platform. When he reports that it was recorded at NeuroHabitat, one wonders if he’s making a reference to a Maurizio Bianchi 1982 record of that title; MB, as he often styled himself, is generally regarded as the First Name of Italian industrial noise, and I’d be disappointed if Simon B doesn’t have a sizeable collection of MB albums lurking in his musty cupboards. This one’s for fans of metallic, eerie and slow noise with an occult flavour, always intriguing and not necessarily simply billowing out threatening atmospheres for the sake of it.

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