Tuesday, 21 July 2009

No Pigeonholing Required

As they say in the trade, the world is beautiful because of its variety - and there are still people out there who don’t make records for money or personal glory, god bless their souls.

OCEANSOUNDS – Marine Mammals And Fish Of Lofoten And Vesterålen

One has to feel affection for characters such as Heike Vester, a “biologist, coordinator and founder of Ocean Sounds, specialized in bio-acoustics of marine animals”, whose “main interest is to preserve life on this planet by trying to minimize human destruction”. As naïve as this aspiration may look in this hopeless age, I often think that with a few additional millions of Vesters around the world there would still be a measure of hope for humanity. Oh, well. This CD – published by Gruenrekorder - is essentially a collection of calls and signals from the inhabitant of the seas from the Norwegian regions quoted by the title, two among the geographic areas in which Heike is active today as she studies the vocal behaviour of killer and pilot whales - the real protagonists, together with dolphins, of the whole project. The hard-to-believe gamut of emissions released – clicks, buzzes and synthesizer-like shrieks - are enjoyable alone or meshed with other aquatic elements, including the background sound of a fishing boat’s engine in a circumstance. Many of these sonorities have nothing to be envious of in comparison with certain anarchic fringes of EAI, to tell you the truth, and several of these cetaceans would easily dialogue with a Theremin - or with Thomas Lehn, if so preferred (this is meant as a compliment). A lovely edition, which nourishes a joy of existing that very rarely materializes in most everybody’s existence nowadays.

PUNTILA – Pabswift And Winterfront

The nom d’art of Alistair Roberts, Puntila produces self-made CDs in strictly limited personal edition, a veritable “release-on-demand” enterprise which, for good measure, reveals an interesting musician gifted with a number of uncharacteristic features (check this website for more information and to purchase the material). Pabswift And Winterfront shows various sides of Roberts’ music across six pieces in which your favourite babbler managed to find elements – whose presence is presumably totally involuntary – of Nurse With Wound, somewhat deviated Celtic folk and, in the initial “Pabswift”, Bowie’s instrumentals circa Low and Heroes (…do I hear someone giggling? “Neukoln” gives me goosebumps to this day, if you really want to know). Caveat: these are my own fantasies. Utilizing samples, real instruments - not indicated on the sleeve, but I’d swear that a dulcimer, and for sure an accordion, are present - and perhaps a couple of pinches of tape/digital manipulation, the composer manages at times to stun without sounding grotesque, alternating vicious suggestions and near-bucolic agreeability with benevolent savoir faire. Echoes of warped pastorals amidst idiosyncratic venomous whispers – plus a degree of mild droning - finely presented in handmade gatefold covers. Enough, this writer believes, to titillate your curiosity, no?