Faune and Boro

“It’s been a productive few months,” pens Tim Olive, TSP regular fave, writing on his typical legal notepad (yellow paper with ruled lines) which reminds us of his day job in the corporate finance sector. This is his way of accounting for his exceptionally prolific output of late. We got about three new records from him in 2018 alone. This track record even puts Greta Van Fleet in the shade. In today’s package, we have two new fine hummocks on which he continues his usual trend for playing in duos, and putting out short releases (no more than 30 mins playing time per disc, if you’re lucky – and complaints are dealt with severely) on his own imprint, with just a single documented performance on them.

I certainly got a lot of tidal activity from Boro (845 AUDIO 845-12), his duo with Doreen Girard. Doreen is a Canadian performer who’s situated in the world of multi-media installation art – that’s her milieu more than the world of music improvisation one suspects. She usually does a son et lumiere thing using old slide and movie projectors accompanied by jarring soundtracks of non-suitable music. She admits to haunting thrift stores, and probably has a house full of gubbins and curios. On this record, she’s playing the “prepared tsymbaly”, which turns out to be the Ukrainian variant of a hammered dulcimer. Given the known facts about Girard’s predilections, this fits well. Let’s hope she picked up this steel monster with its stringy ways from the best junk shop in Winnipeg. Olive is here with his typical magnetic pickups, and together they produce a terrific dirge of sighs, groanings, churnings, and ambiguous semi-roars. I like the way the music never settles into a comfortable drone. Instead it keeps lurching from one painful moment to the next. Enough to give you sleepless nights, and indigestion associated with bad cheese. Impressively, this was the very first time they met, and this is the result of an afternoon warm-up session before the “main event” at the Sounds Like festival. That’s a metallic shaker right there in the bag.

Still in Canadian mode, we have Faune (845 AUDIO 845-11) which features Tim doing it in Montreal with famed turntabling genius Martin Tétreault. Tim assures us he’s been playing with Tétreault on and off for the last 30 years, and yet this is the first record they made together. Just goes to show you that the best music is the music we haven’t got. Faune has cover art that is a direct continuation of Olive’s fixation with the agricultural life, also shown on the record naar/voor released in 2017, with its cover art diagrams of crop rotations. On this occasion he cleverly mixes up the French words “fauve” and “jaune”, to arrive at a new cross-breed of “yellow beast”. Three such are depicted: the yellow cow, the yellow pig, and the yellow hen. Bucking the trend for long single tracks, Faune features four episodes from their musical meeting. As opposed to Boro which is all about the collision of scrapes and magnetised hums, the musical core here is mostly about finding internal rhythms and assembling imaginary blocks of clay and steel around them.

Not hard to find such rhythms in the remorseless grind of Martin Tétreault, who slams blank discs on a rotating surface and invites us to enjoy emptied out hiss, crackle, and pop. On top of these abstract murmurations, Olive takes a “solo”. This entails forcing a mournful whale-like sob from the belly of his instrument, and letting it float like a balloon. There is also much judicious use of amplifier hum to produce a surly, textured grumble, and the whole session is a great example of seething bitterness compacted into sound. If you could bottle a combination of chicory, wormwood and yarrow along with other natural bitter herbs, you’d get a jar of intensity much like this to spread on your morning hardboard. Listeners seeking the false hope of a hypnotic trance troubled by rainy day visions are advised to seek the solace of track two, where opposite poles will vibrate you into that condition. Listeners who want more agitational broth and leaping factors in their daily ingest are pointed towards track three, which is more “broken” and incoherent, as if challenging us to make sense of the chaotic nature of things. I have a feeling that these two could recreate a concert from the 1990s by the great Otomo Yoshihide (the emperor of wild turntables and guitar thrash) if they put their mind to it.

Both the above from 14th May 2019.

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