Wire readers know who Byron Coley is. For the unaware, he’s among the most intelligently ironic music writers around, a unique figurative method enabling him to perfectly describe the content of a 7-inch with just a few words. And even if one is not acquainted with the featured artists, that style is enough to enjoy his “Size Matters” page very much. In this occasion your raconteur decided to try and “do a Coley” (minus the talent) and write brief reviews of (almost) all the 7-inches received from 2007 to yesterday. That said, let it be known that – contrarily to Mr. Coley - I DON’T LIKE 7-INCHES. If you want to throw them at me anyway, please email before doing it as this is the format that comes last in my reviewing priorities (unless they come as CDR copies, that is – I hate flipping sides every three minutes). Therefore, this roundup should not encourage anyone to forward more of those small vinyl items. The piece was typed out of respect of those who were so nice to send the stuff, yet there are better ways to spend four hours in a morning (pardon the sincerity).
First of all, a handful on Drone:
MURMER – In Their Home And In Their Heads. Echoes from a London garden fused with a computer’s ventilation noise and a broken necklace’s beads from Patrick McGinley. Here’s how it appears to these ears. “In His Home”: metallic-sounding, yet vivid drones growing menacingly, then interrupted abruptly by what sounds like looped crackles that soon merge with the “drone reprise” in dramatic fashion, the whole intense and worrying, alarming in a way. “In His Head”: obscure, windy, whooshing buzzes just spotted by typically rustling, field recording-derived fragrances. Then, static (but not too much) superimpositions of feedback-ish emissions and cyclical harmonics, more ringing, hurried steps (or are they?), piercingly magnetic frequencies. Great stuff all over.
MOLJEBKA PVLSE – Lodelvx. “Lode” is a reverberating, flanging block of trance under which we seem to perceive robotically funereal chorales from a far distance, the whole characterized by a repetitive presence of treated instruments getting progressively more visible in the foreground. Pretty psychedelic, think Cluster meets Harold Budd in full-opium effect. “Lvx” is a splendidly resonant drone - halfway through the intro of Genesis’ “I Know What I Like” and Lustmord - that after a while becomes a slow, mournful song. So mesmerizing that one could listen to it for hours. This non-critic hates the 7-inch format also for this kind of reason: this is too beautiful, and too short.
HATI – Recycled Magick Drones. Processed gong drones, whistling and rattling sounds and delayed percussion. Moderately interesting, a ritual character that’s not really annoying, despite this writer’s not excessive love for lengthy reverbs. Shades of Z’EV (of whom the Polish duo have been collaborators) never transcending into actual plagiarism. All this notwithstanding, a rather unremarkable release, which – though not disturbing and sometimes even pleasing - doesn’t add anything new to my morning.
LICHT-UNG – Kristall. Annoyances of the post-industrial kind: thunderous roaring, feedback, shifting dynamics, scraping sounds appearing every once in a while. Inhumanly inconsistent, to say the least. Neither anarchic enough for getting my interest tickled, not aesthetically pleasing. Maybe it was intended that way, but here we don’t buy this type of “art”. The irregularly modified metallic jangling of the second side is even more insubstantial. A classic direct-to-trashcan article.
NOISE DREAMS MACHINA – In / Out. From the press release: “…exploring the possibilities of homemade software with free tools for sound deconstruction and real time performance”. A rather tortuous description for quite conventional noise, some of it nicely resonating, the rest more or less useless. I don’t know how there’s still an audience for stuff that would have struggled to make sense in the late 80s already. Everything sounds a hymn for the “been there, done that” character of post-industrialism. Ineffectual, worthless dabbling along well-trodden paths. The second side is much better than the first, though, adding a welcome spacey vibe to the procedures.
SHRINE – Distorted Legends Pt.1. Hailing from Bulgaria but residing in England, Shrine are (is?) another example of production which distinctly recalls the golden era of post-industrial music. Generated by “distorted synths with odd micro-noises and effects” this stuff is not so bad, mixing crunchy distortions, washes of homesick chords and interference in a candid, yet acceptable way. Probably too light-hearted to be called noteworthy, yet gifted with traces of sincerity that makes me want to save it.
And then there’s the rest:
ANTOINE CHESSEX / ARNAUD RIVIÈRE – Chessex / Rivière. One side each, Chessex on an unrecognizably distorted saxophone, Rivière on “electrophone, etc” (sic). Short, sharp, shocking noise that I used as a soundtrack while watching two elephantine heavyweights fighting (heartlessly) for the European title. Devastation, distortion, grime, harshness, aaaarrrrggghhhhhh… Nothing new under the sun, but likeable. (Le Petit Mignon)
SKELETONS OUT / NMPERIGN – Live 1978 / Marvin. Howard Stelzer and Jay Sullivan kick ass – seriously - via an assortment of sludgy aural offenses showing disaffection and hostility in a guerilla-like fragment, while Bhob Rainey and Greg Kelley don’t delude expectancies through their hard-breathing explorations of wheezy overtones, imperturbable hisses and motley chirps. No trace of politeness whatsoever in this snappy release. (Editions Zero)
PETER WRIGHT – Magpie Attack On The Back Road To Albert Town. Begins with a classic Peter Wright lucid dream, chimes and sweetness, everybody ready to be lulled to sleep. Then you’re scorched by fiery distortion, which soon turns into majestic droning with purple intumescences. The alternate mix on side B is even better, a desirable mental fog experienced as belly-dancers and fat cats float around, the penetrating equalization adding a pseudo-transistor radio character to the impalpable auras and crunchier eruptions. The man rules. (Dirty Knobby)
RED SQUIRRELS – Acicorn Twirl. What am I to say? Songs and soundscapes that look pretty disconnected from anything else, lots of taped voices, buzzing flies, street echoes, abundant manipulation, lo-fi throughout, and there are melodies, too. As my wife is cooking and a marching band makes itself heard from the nearby town - circa 1 km from here - this can be a small part of my temporary microcosm’s noise. Taken alone, it doesn’t amount to much, but I’ve heard worse things in my life. Bizarre, yet not truly revolutionary. Forgiven for this time. (Automation)
ABIKU / KID CAMARO – Abiku / Kid Camaro. Abiku rock obliquely in “Regency”, easy melodies bathing in dissonant jangling guitar, with strangely deviating bass lines that make me appreciate their mixture of Bangles and Ramones (just a bit). They can also annoy with repetitive electronic rhythms and screaming vocals which sound like a snotty toddler deprived of a lollipop, the latter incarnation plain rubbish in strictly musical sense. Kid Camaro appears as a deranged composer of polyphonic mobile ringtones, cheap drum machines and curiously bleeping synthetic outbursts adding to the ear-pleasing weirdness. One of the most absurd releases met in a long time indeed; do this people believe I’m out of my mind? Well, they’re probably right. (Automation)
D + D – Properties / Ribbons. This comes from Bryan Day’s Public Eyesore, so we know that the quality must be there (well, most probably). Indeed the guys (Dino Felipe & Dereck Higgins) are good, the item comprising a half-played half-dismembered electroacoustic concoction, easy on the ear even in its noisiest features, literally indescribable. The second side is slightly more ethereal, honking cars utilized as harmony (wonderfully), a hint of ambient-tinged minimalist repetition scarred by blubbery creatures that speak abnormally in a completely incomprehensible jargon. In all, just over five minutes of great music that I would like to listen to again, in different formats and longer durations. Pink vinyl. (Public Eyesore)
ELEKTRONAVN / EXQUISITE RUSSIAN BRIDES – Elektronavn / Exquisite Russian Brides. Yet another split edition, and this time it’s really great, both projects coming from Denmark. Elektronavn are Mia Luna Persson and Magnus Olsen Majmon; they present superb drones, achieved through superimposed vocals (more or less altered), zurna and bansuri. No pretense or affectation, just wonderful mantras that one could listen to for days. Exquisite Russian Brides is Marc Kellaway on cello, guitar, loops, bells and xylophone, and his music is equally gorgeous, a different kind of instrumental Om - gifted with lavish resonances - which I’d play ad infinitum had this been a compact disc. And if you did release CDs, folks, don’t hesitate to send them. Possibly the best 7-inch of this article; lovers of Richard Skelton might give this a try. (BSBTA)
FEAR FALLS BURNING – Woes Of The Desolate Mourner. Your chronicler used to respect Vidna Obmana, a constant source of photocopying for many and one “new ambient nonentities”, yet hasn’t been able to approve the transition to Fear Falls Burning. To me, Dirk Serries crossed the river: from imitated to imitator. His guitar drones are not exceptional in terms of profundity, not even a good copy of the icons he tries to reproduce (in this case Robert Fripp, rather shamelessly). If I want to listen to this kind of music I play the originals, not to mention my own axe. Forgive the rudeness, but the fact that this stuff has met rather favourable responses tells a lot about the superficiality of the large part of today’s audiences. The above mentioned Fripp and Richard Pinhas might consider suing. (Tonefloat/Ikon)