Tuesday 6 January 2009

Epiphany With Noise And A Little Saccharine

The sixth day of January is a particularly felt holiday in certain regions of this sinking country, many children receiving presents on this date rather than December 25; furthermore, this is the closure of the Christmas holidays (hooray!). Depressing memories, which this writer tends to escape like plague. Thus, what’s healthier of a triptych of records - noise as the preponderant factor - to celebrate the end of this miserable period?

The first one, quite sincerely, didn’t persuade me. Released by No Type, Les Arbres by Nicolas Bernier – a composer based in Montreal who studied acousmatics with Robert Normandeau and Jean Piché, equally well versed in music for dance and cinema – is a satisfying item from a graphic point of view, the pieces inspired by interesting images by visual artist Urban 9, included in the CD package under the guise of six classy cards. The record is an “elegant jumble” of regular instruments – also comprising vibraphone, piano, cello and accordion - and not better contextualized mangled-and-garbled sources. The whole, although pleasing at times, results as a little too soundtrack-ish to these ears. In particular, the melodies and the thematic materials designed by Bernier are often excessively simplistic, the stridency between this easiness and the boisterous components of the electroacoustic “triturations” (as per the composer’s definition) relatively evident throughout. After a couple of listens I already knew that nothing more could be expected; that’s usually the indication of an archiviatio praecox.

The accompanying card by my friend Matjaž Galicic (a young man from Slovenia who generates hard-to-believe rumbles with rubber balloons) contains these words: “Hope you’re doing fine and enjoying the summer”. A-hem. This tells plenty in relation to what happens on this desk with 100 incoming releases or so every month. I know that the guy is serious, therefore please accept both the excuses for the delay and an advice: grab these low-budget, high-interest outings on Galicic’s [&] label. The first is a 3-inch containing what follows: 1) A typical eruption of angry, ear-piercing, raucous vomit by Mattin, a real sandblasting of the auricular membranes; 2) A magnetic-yet-sour monolithic track by Gen 26 (Galicic himself, source unclear; don’t think they’re balloons but you never know. The piece is okay, though); 3) Two segments by Turkish Batur Sonmez, recalling industrial atmospheres from the late 80s with a modicum of trance aroma. The second disc is a 54-minute CDR. Mattin is again there, teamed with Torturing Nurse, in a pair of magnificently obdurate cataclysmic negation of reality, chock full of distorted voices (from TV?) and ball-roasting fusillades of terrifying blasts. Amper-O-Mat uses a grater, of all things, for three “tribal atmospheric instant compositions” (sic) that in truth sound a bit “Z’EV during a depression stint” but, overall, are acceptable. The best comes at the beginning, this time: the longest selection, Aaron Hull’s “Crumble” (a live recording, for good measure) is a splendid labyrinth for losing yourselves in cerebral fog. Balanced, refined and slightly threatening at once, this is a mesmerizing example of electronic minimalism with the right dose of interference, just about enough not to destroy the killer charm of the essential design. Great stuff, and I’m going to ask Aaron for additional material. We’re at that kind of level.