Motion Industries / Junk Bonds / Cold Front

Fine set of modern compositions played on the clarinet by Richard Haynes on his Ghosts Of Motion (CUBUS RECORDS CR374) album. More specifically, he plays the clarinet d’amore, which might be regarded by some as something of an antique – although popular in the late 1700s, it gradually faded out of use due to changing imperatives in classical music and orchestras, particularly during the rise of romantic music. It seems the clarinet d’amore, with its narrow bore and “woody sound”, was just a shade too quiet to hold its own against the more dominant basset horn. Richard Haynes appears to be working away at a one-man campaign to reinstate the instrument in classical music and restore it to its rightful position, noting that the culture has moved on nowadays, and intimate ensemble music is making a welcome return. It’s that intimacy which is the hallmark of today’s record, each one of these 2020 compositions allowing Haynes a chance to speak in a gentle manner and address the emotional concerns he’s evidently reaching for. This isn’t to suggest he’s by any means a “minimal” player; though this may be a quiet album, the player and all the composers share an interest in content and meaning. He has a very strong technique, but doesn’t show off with it, and the key takeaways are precision and clarity. All the seven compositions are extensively annotated in the enclosed booklet; personal favourites include ‘huso huso’ by Jonah Haven, and the title track by Chris Dench. (16/02/2021)

Recent cassette tape from Bryan Day’s EH? Aural Repository is Thing Music (EH? 116), created by Erin Demastes in Los Angeles. She makes her sounds from commonplace discarded objects, thereby fitting in to this label’s aesthetic in quite a big way – Day is never slow to recognise the achievements of those who make sounds from unusual sources, or build their own instruments, or use hacked / broken electronics. In the case of Demastes, she likes to organise her collection of useful junk by its colour, so we have seven tracks here titled ‘Pink’, ‘Orange’ ‘Yellow’, etc. depending on which particular pile she turned to for inspiration. As expected, plastic and metal seem to be the main components in play, but she also does a little bit of hacking and live electronics too, and I think her own voice appears as she muses along in harmony with her distinctive creations. Overdubs and repetitions are allowed, unless I miss my guess, meaning that the listener doesn’t end up faced with an unappetising morass of inert, lifeless, static noise; rather, the friendly junkpile of Erin Demastes appears to be teeming with life in the most unexpected places. Her success might have something to do with her sense of humour and absurdity in her approach, both qualities which I welcome, and that she genuinely seems to be exploring; “Why did I make this? Your guess is as good as mine,” is her disarming confession. Another sound artist who has made a career out of repurposing objects is Guido Huebner / DSM, but his work is rather solemn and grey compared to this pop-art, colourful material; and Guido also seems to be on a mission to question the purpose of everything in the world, starting with the broken vacuum cleaner and (by extension) the broken politics of society. No such intellectual baggage to process on today’s tape, thankfully. (01/03/2021)

Cut-above ambient atmospherics from the team of Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist on their Still (GLACIAL MOVEMENTS GM043) record. I think the duo are both American, one based in Brooklyn and one in California, and they’ve made a few duo records starting with Wandering Eye for this same label in 2016 – at least two items in their catalogue, Signal Artefact and Distant Companion, might also experiment with Techno forms, but today’s item is largely about cold, slow-moving long-form exercises in the fog of the unknown. The intention is that each track will change very imperceptibly – “they do not sound the same when they end as they did when they started”, to use their own words. They’ve ended up with a statement, or an observation, about how time itself slows down, especially in cold weather. This links back to the Wandering Eye record with its ruminations about how to perceive and observe the landscape of the Arctic plateau. In just about every respect then, Still fulfils the very strict label requirements for Glacial Movements, as set out by the owner Alessandro Tedeschi, which we noted when we heard Algida Bellezza in 2019. I like the density and layers of this release, especially when the musicians allow the ghost of a pulsebeat into the overall fabric. (01/03/2021)