Sunday, 21 February 2010

Valuable Or Less, Your Choice

REHAB – Man Under Train Situation

John Hegre (guitar, electronics), Bjørnar Habbestad (flute, electronics). From the extreme electroacoustic provinces, a series of now thoroughly brutal, now more tranquil (but still menacing) explorations of the noisiest fringes of timbre with rare decipherable textures, mainly in the harsh-at-all-costs area. Many of the events sound rather circumstantial, and ever the developed sections appear a little too fragmentary to be remembered with real infatuation. The actual instruments are mostly kept unrecognizable, except for a handful of guitar emanations and a few flute-elicited pops and bubbles; radical feedback and severe distortion help to forget. Ferocious cut’n’paste, combustible liquids spilled all over the place, a general sense of lack of compromise. Yet not entirely satisfying and, at times, slightly inconclusive. Episodically interesting, nothing else. (+3DB)

THE RIGHT MOVES – The End Of The Empire

Ninni Morgia (guitar, Casio), Stuart Popejoy (bass), Kevin Shea (drums). Over forty minutes of axe-centered improvisation packing a solid punch overall, but not enough devastating - or simply creative - to let us cry miracle. Morgia’s shimmering resonances, howling snarls and sporadically cantabile lines would like to depict something between inconsolable and illuminating, partially succeeding. The walloping mass of low frequencies elicited by Popejoy meshes well with the grumbling percussive initiatives of Shea, who is calmer here than in other settings we have heard him in. A few sections are cohesive and right to the point; others are quite a bit on the noodle-doodle side of things. I also tried it as an active soundtrack while watching a boxing fight on DVD, and – believe it or not - it worked better that way. Essentially, this music is moderately appreciable as a bulk; yet if one looks for further details, there’s not too much to really exult for. (Ultramarine)

CHRISTIAN VASSEUR – Alam + Poèmes Saturniens

A French musician who specializes on guitars with a larger number of strings than the norm, and in addition is technically adept on the Renaissance lute; in fact, he exclusively utilizes a 14-string archlute in Alam. These are separate releases but work better if listened consecutively, in order to have a handle on the overall vision of an artist definitely gifted with a consistently throbbing heart besides an irrefutable digital prowess. The lute album is inevitably oriented towards a classical language, but it doesn’t sound decayed or musty for a moment. One appreciates both the structure and the kindness of the pieces, and the composer’s ability to touch the right spots in the listener’s individual mood. Poèmes Saturniens is a good record as well, in which we perceive a slight veil of peripheral influence (Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti in particular, if only in short spurts) and lots of nascent suggestions that often remain not completely expressed yet they’re all the more fascinating for this very reason. It is interesting to note that Vasseur works, among other social classes, with disabled adults and children; the human responsiveness necessary for this kind of job indisputably transpires from his unpretentiously emotive music, which he occasionally emphasizes through murmured vocalizations. (Humming Conch)

MIGUEL A. GARCIA – Armiarmak

Miguel A. Garcia (mixer, mics, sines). A two-year old album that, on a superficial listen, may sound like a thousand others but that instead needs repeated attempts to infiltrate a depth that goes well beyond the merely experimental surface. Interesting progress on a compositional level: sonic derivations that appear from nothingness, establish a milieu (mainly centered around a mixture of microsounds, buzzing and humming emissions, semi-silences and subtle interferences, the whole suffused in continuously shifting dynamics). Sheer data succeeding frame by frame in a cold logic of brain stimulation that might result welcome (here it was for sure) or aggravating, if the audience is not practiced in this kind of listening. On the other hand, Armiarmak could appeal – at least partially - to drone maniacs (the title track is excellent at that) and practitioners of headphone-based, blank-stare entrancement. The closing “Itapoa”, comprising looped sounds by Rafael Flores, is a particularly intriguing finale. That your partner will appreciate this CD - especially at significant volume - is not a given. I did. (RMO)

DANIEL LENTZ – Point Conception

Arlene Dunlap, Bryan Pezzone (piano). In the 80s your reviewer was literally mesmerized by Lentz’s Missa Umbrarum but as the years went by he gradually lost passion with his music, in spite of occasional beauties arising from a general harmonic easygoingness that, on the long distance, is hardly acceptable. Unfortunately Point Conception is not immune, in spite of the multi-piano modus operandi characterizing both scores. The almost 37 minutes of the title track (performed by Dunlap) are replete with superimposed overflowing arpeggios that - quite sincerely - become tedious after less than one third, and no technical dexterousness can transform an inconclusive composition in a masterpiece. Pezzone is featured in the much shorter – and definitely better – “Nightbreaker”, whose aura of mystery is unquestionably more rewarding to these ears even if the piece is still loaded with notes, not all of them really significant in its economy. Feldman zealots will do good in standing well clear off this record, while my impression of unfulfilled potentials when thinking about this composer returns with a vengeance. (Cold Blue)

MATHIEU RUHLMANN – Tsukubai + Funayūrei

Drones and water, water and drones. The first chapter in Mystery Sea’s subsidiary label comes from a man who has done good with past editions of his assemblages; that’s exactly what (barely) saves an otherwise pretty ordinary day at the office. To be precise, the fact that my promo copy came with a second CD (Funayūrei) that contains music superior to Tsukubai, the original release, helps considerably in not judging this as a completely useless outing. The latter was made with hydrophone recordings in a Vancouver garden: well placed gurgles and washes, plus the usual rustling and crackling appearances, occasionally accompanied by some kind of ethereal echo or from-the-underground stasis, Lustmord-style (minus the threatening factor). Nothing wrong but absolutely nothing innovative either, a one-in-a-thousand episode in this genre. The bonus disc comprises a 25-minute suite where the assistance of the fundamental vibration underlying the field work is more continuous, which is how things are rendered slightly interesting. It behaves nicely enough as an ambient complement, but in earlier times Ruhlmann was publishing better materials than these. The profundity of personal reminiscences doesn’t always translate into sonic impact, this being a classic case. (Unfathomless)

SEASONS (PRE-DIN) – Your Eyes The Stars And Your Hands The Sea

Under the “influences” spot on his MySpace page, Seasons (Pre-Din) declares “silence and the need for something to be there”. Given the proclivity to remain anonymous – couldn’t find a real name at a first googling, and quite sincerely didn’t waste excessive time for this – the elements for interesting stuff were all in attendance. This wonderfully titled album is indeed a satisfactory example of how it’s still possible to release music in a filled-to-capacity sector and managing to have someone who’s able to unmask a pretender in thirty seconds (that’s me) remaining interested for the total duration of the disc, in this case circa 38 minutes. Why? Because Mr. (Pre-Din) uses the same ingredients of a thousand of other dronescapers with a deeper respect for the listener’s latent inner quietness. According to Daniel Crokaert’s notes, the sources – besides the by now omnipresent field recordings and indeterminate voices from the ether – may comprise singing bowls, dulcimers, piano, guitars and orchestral loops. Not many direct resemblances to these instruments were detected, but beautiful sections humming ad infinitum yes, they are present in copious doses. And even the normal parts are less annoying than in the average productions of the equivalent class. Some intense subterranean quivering, a somewhat choral development of the droning mass and – voila – here’s a not really transcendental yet solid CD that will keep good company during your introverted reflective evenings. (Mystery Sea)

MOLJEBKA PVLSE – Aningan

The experts know what to expect from Mathias Josefson, the man behind one of the most diffused monikers in the dark ambient/isolationist area (these categories make me laugh nowadays, and I really don’t find a new way to define the genre anymore). Extensive durations, shifting scenarios, hundreds of tangled-and-processed sources, resonating metals, bottomless choirs, winds and seas. Again, factors that have already been employed thousands of times. But when personal sensitiveness kicks in – and Moljebka Pvlse is a very considerate artist among those heard in this territory – we get rewarded with beautiful music, at least aesthetically when not on deeper levels, and there’s no need to repeat once more the list of negatives (which in this occasion would be almost empty anyway). Thus enjoy this long aquatic/subterranean/ethereal adventure where radio interference, stretched guitars, hollow voices and natural emanations proceed in exquisitely intertwining settings, manipulated and chained in beguilingly morphing sequences by Josefson with his typical ability until the whole is definitively stabilized in entrancing quasi-stillness. Masses of scarcely comprehensible sounds that inch forward without doing damage, instead trying to involve the receiver’s attitude and impermanent mood. Not just a “sufficient”, but a dangerously near to “excellent” album indeed. (Mystery Sea)