UNFATHOMLESS U05 CD (2011)
Zeltini is a former soviet military base located in northeastern Latvia. The abandoned base housed nuclear missiles in large horizontal bunkers. Amongst the decay and debris of weapons of deterrence also lies a giant pink granite head of Lenin. Which sounds like a great place for a sonic environmental incursion. Five individuals did such a thing one day in November 2008 and documented their acoustic actions on four synchronized binaural recordings. Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, John Grzinich, Kaspars Kalninsh, and Felicity Mangan use for the most part only objects and materials found in the bunkers. Pipes clang, metal objects are dragged, scraped and slammed in this reverberant space. The sonic explorers scrape away through the empty space, unleashing the ghosts of previous military activity. Their movement is never arbitrary but maintains a sense of composed actions. The first 30 minutes stays in the same clanging vein, then shifts into a more subdued approach and two sounds from out of the bunker milieu are introduced: the shifting sounds of a radio broadcast in Russian and then a jews harp. After a while the metal clanging returns albeit more subtle and then it wraps up with the sounds of water being splashed around to announce the end of the action. This is a CD to put on and fill your room with the sounds of another time and place, and experience a sonic incursion in your own environment.
Howard Stelzer & Frans de Waard
BOCIAN RECORDS be pp CD (2013)
The hazy and sometimes murky sounds of old cassettes and laptop produced sounds is what Stelzer & de Waard conjure up in this four track album. The tracks were assembled from recordings made either in person or via swapping sound files over a ten year period. This process of editing together disparate sources makes the music hard to place in time and space. It’s a thick sound, not drone, just hazy, hissy, and something easily to get lost in. The first three pieces range from 4 to 17 minutes, and are focused excursions of repetition and murkiness. The final piece, a side long slab called “here we are” clocks in at 24 minutes, and starts to drag midpoint with spare high pitched tones. As my mind begins to wander the piece suddenly comes back to life and teems with activity. Snippets of old tapes sneak into the mix and are recognizable. Laptop generated overtones almost hint at a melody…as much as an arrangement of three repeating tones can be considered such. Howard & Frans managed to bring it all home and end the piece in a satisfying way. If they had trimmed some of the meandering mid section, it would have only strengthened the work. Overall a real nice album of hiss and mud, with digital crackles and tones for those humid and overcast summer days or late night fogginess. Skip reading Stelzer’s linear notes about the album, as he sorta grouses about having to describe how the music was made. If you don’t want to say, then why bother saying that? I dig the sounds you’re making, so don’t sweat it.