Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Hail Mary Trio

These three reviews were edited on December 8th, Immaculate Conception day in Italy (elsewhere too, perhaps?). Not bad for an unrepentant agnostic.


Another split from John Gore’s ever-interesting series on Cohort. Dimuzio and Custodio present “Air Way”, a live recording from 2007 that utilizes samples, processing, loops, MIDI-controlled feedback and synthesizer to generate a spacey, sporadically intimidating soundscape that could not really be described as blissful, its tissue also characterized by a modicum of growl which avoids the barrenness usually manifested by all those sweet-sounding pseudo-cosmic trips which anyone with a workstation is able to concoct in this day and age. It mixes mystery and majesty, stasis and movement, drone and variation, meaning that our interest is sustained with ease throughout 18 minutes. Conure’s “Murray Street” – much longer at 27’ – was created by manipulating the sounds coming from the Manhattan site made famous by a Sonic Youth album’s title. The temperament of this piece is consequently more inconstant, noisily oppressing, the composer privileging the most distorted aural nuances of the audio range while basically maintaining the qualities of that sort of overwhelming mantra informing metropolitan life - especially in NY – with additional doses of piercingly spurious raucousness thrown in for good measure. In both cases: fine, though not world-shattering stuff.

METAL MACHINE TRIO – The Creation Of The Universe

You’ve probably read about this project most everywhere by now, but a little bird told me that the world at large also needed my two cents. “Guitarist” Lou Reed (no, he’s not singing yet he does elicit fuzzy Hendrix memories at times), saxophonist Ulrich Krieger and electronic wizard Sarth Calhoun, recorded live at Los Angeles’ Red Cat, explore a series of situations oscillating between collective brooding improvisation and something nearing a sort of art-rock informed by a measure of hardness, with a slight tendency to substantial, if well-contained distorted riffage and occasional spewing of unruly squeals. I’m convinced that many so-called purists will turn their noses up in front of this but – as usual - no problem here. There are several episodes in which these improbable comrades do very interesting things, superimposing melodic fragments to massive drones and infected discharges in the space of moments, almost never sounding vulgar. It must be told that Calhoun’s processing is often the key to the conversion of pretty regular stuff into nonfigurative conceptions, relatively appealing on an experimental level; the mental depth of the involved artists makes sure that ineffective noodling is left out of the room more often than not. Naturally we’re not talking masterpiece – Metal Machine Music this ain’t, despite the trio’s denomination. In spite of this, we come across an appreciable quantity of fascinating interludes – a didgeridoo-like moan at approximately 37 minutes of the first disc, scarred by Reed’s slashing outbursts, being particularly munificent to these ears – in a general predisposition to humongous surging. As a method for making some (edible) noise it’s more or less OK, provided that one manages to assimilate the unnecessary fat of certain segments where excessively rock-ish propensities distract us a bit from the refreshingly convulsive roaring. The wall-of-jumbled-chords-with-ruthlessly-stabbing-dissonance sections – not to mention the ominously obscure beginning of the second set - are way better. Test definitely passed, although not with flying colours. Available here.

HOPEN – Their Quasi-Homes Are Real Holes

Childe Grangier and Bruno Gillet are, respectively, a sound artist “influenced first by sounds (…as George Clooney would have it, what else?), daily noises and music experimentation from Zappa, Autechre, Luc Ferrari Subrosa label (…)” and a multi-instrumentalist credited with “guitar, drums, knives”. Go figure. This splendidly titled digital release (available at Everestrecords) is a pastiche made with literally myriads of snippets from the most disparate sources, including lo-fi shreds, cut-price field recordings and regular instruments filtered and equalized to transform their timbres into something which is perceived as “caressingly unrelated” to our senses. It’s a strange work, for different reasons. Although the general conception is not new, Hopen managed to find a number of interesting combinations and sequences that attribute a cinematic, but still investigational quality to the large part of the recording, which becomes well tolerable - when not completely involving - thanks to this outlandish unsettledness. One tends to forgive a few cheesy synthetic presets, only because they’re instantly raped and killed by additional intromissions of unsentimental acridness and infeasible paroxysmal lexicons; and indeed there is a Zappa rip-off somewhere (a brief section sounds exactly like the sped-up tapes in FZ’s “Revenge Of The Knick-Knack People”). Nevertheless, the anguishing dimension underlying the music – even during apparently peaceful instances – renders it deeper than its superficial look, and this is what ultimately influences the optimistic impression. My suggestion is to play this in “random” mode, at fair volume, from the speakers: certain weird resonances might do wonders in relation to your psychological setting.