Sunday, April 17, 2005

Raymond Dijkstra- "La Philosophie des Chiottes"

Raymond Dijkstra is a veteran Dutch sound artist and his Le Souffleur label has released a handful of his own works on vinyl both solo and in collaboration with Timo van Luijk as Asra. This is a one-sided LP that comes in a plastic sleeve with a printed white card insert which is slightly smaller than the record. The insert has the title of the record printed in block letters, and nothing more. The record labels add no more information other that the artist's name. This all adds to the mystery. "La Philosophie des Chiottes" apparently translates as "Philosophy of the Toilet"- though I'm not sure I can guess at how that might apply to the composition. The piece is a sparse mix of closely-mic'ed scratches and scrapes, faint electric cable hum, subtle feedback whistles and a recurring "organ-like" sequence. There is some delay and possibly some other effects at play but the sounds that dominate are the raw scratchy microphone sounds, which remain prominent throughout. The sound that I identify as "feedback whistles" rises in volume as the mix progresses, but the overall feel of the track is very balanced- the sounds flow at a constant pace and rarely rise to any level which might even remotely be considered as "loud". I'm reminded of the work of Ralf Wehowsky and late P16 D4- subtle and mysterious electroacoustic music (heavy on the acoustic element) that follows a logic of its own. The organ-like sequence (perhaps a harmonium) becomes a bit freer as the track passes the halfway point, as the effects and delay seem to acquire a bit more intensity. The whole track dissolves into near-silence as it winds down to the finish, leaving nothing but the ambient hiss of an empty room. Or, at least that is what it sounds like to me. Fans of the work of Wehowsky and related Selektion label artists should investigate Djikstra's work.

Released by
Le Souffleur
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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Guilty Connector : "Cosmic Trigger / 2AM Visit"

Guilty Connector's Ground Fault CD is a new collection of tracks, some previously released in miniscule editions, others brand new. Some live, some studio, mostly solo and one in collaboration with Sudden Infant. The G.C. sound is fast-paced dynamic harsh noise full of sudden stops and rapid fire sonic explosions, which, in combination with G.C.'s penchant for Motorhead/Venom-style heavy metal imagery adds up to a very exuberant hard-rocking whole. There is some of that on here to be sure but there are also field recordings, strange low-volume scraping passages, and intrusions of unexpected calm. So basically this is some sort of hardcore electroacoustic music not afraid to overwhelm the listener with volume but also not afraid to pull back into near-silence and even some moments of dainty beauty. And then add some rock'and'roll touches like the sounds of "drunk and crazy noise fans" on a live track, and G.C.'s own (presumably) singalong on the track that originally appeared on an Abba tribute compilation. The CD is divided into two sides as indicated by the title, and one gets the feeling G.C. would have prefered this release to be a vinyl album. With a thick foldout cover. My favorite piece might be the last- sound quality is clear and powerful, the mixing precise and swift-moving, from hard-panned bursts to stretched out reverbed walls of rushing high-pitched frequencies to crackling bass distortion.

Released by Ground Fault Recordings
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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Unicorn "Playing With Light"

Unicorn is W.T. Nelson of Bastard Noise and this is his first full-length solo release after a couple of splits and compilation appearances. Three of the tracks on here are for films by Stephanie Miller. These films are included on the CD as Quicktime video files. The inclusion of the films is a great touch, as the music works well with the grainy and mysterious slow-moving images. The audio tracks on the CD are far more musical than the Bastard Noise stylings I was expecting. Something about the starkness of the music (and perhaps small touches like the use of spoken words and the long track titles) make me want to compare this to Godspeed You! Black Emperor much more than Bastard Noise. The pieces make use of some simple, tinkly melodies that sound like they are being played on a music box- this is how the first track opens, before some thick and earthy hums are introduced. The thick hums are the best part of the Unicorn sound- a very rich electric sound that is very deep and organic. I'm not as enthralled by the music-box elements. The release overall feels very slight- I had a hard time grasping the whole thing as a coherent "album"- it seemed like it was over right as I was starting to immerse myself in the sounds. The CD is not particularly short (37 minutes) but feels much shorter- perhaps because the compositions follow a very simple pattern that doesn't vary too much- the music-box tinkles and echoed hums recur in every piece. A bit of screechy feedback, some rain sounds and narration spice up the odd track here and there. Still, the sounds and the recording have a very attractive warmth and there is plenty here to make me want to follow what Unicorn might do next.

Released by Housepig Records
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Monday, January 17, 2005

Zbigniew Karkowski + Antimatter "KHZ"

Antimatter is California's Xopher Davidson and this 45 minute piece, released by San Francisco's Auscultare Research is Davidson's second collaboration with Swedish/Polish composer Zbigniew Karkowski. On their previous CD ("Function Generator" on Portugal's Sirr label) they set themselves a limit of 100 Hz frequencies for a very clinical work full of super-low bass vibrations. This time the title "KHZ" leads you to believe they've expanded the frequency range quite a bit. The opening minutes feature a slow pulsing bass tone loop EQ'ed down mercilessly. The sound is clean, thick and heavy, with just a slight suggestion of a trebly scratch around the edges. The pristine sounds of undistorted bass tones can be a bit difficult on the ears but this bass noise is pleasurable. The bass gets into your head in a way that can only be described as a physical effect more than an auditory sensation, as real or imagined additional tones ring through your head endlessly. A rhythmic beating builds up as the suffocating tones seem to multiply. Drawn-out purring drones flow through the mix, as do a few higher pitched morse-code bleeps but the bass dominates the first ten minutes before the frequency range opens up. Midrange sonorities appear suddenly around the 13 minute mark- I jumped at their intrusion, actually. Click-loops emerge, bass levels are brought down and the piece reaches a high-end chirping peak around the 27 minute mark. The click-loops bring to mind Ryoji Ikeda or Carsten Nicolai, or the more desolate moments of Pansonic but the feel here is a bit more intense- and you never lose the sense that something really dangerous is about to assault your ears at any moment. But the austere feel remains throughout- and the piece slowly winds down over the course of a slow-moving 45 minutes. There are no liner notes on this release- except for a cryptic quote: "rebounding = junk of live" credited to R. Selavy (Duchamp's readymade alter-ego) though the connection between this music and the quote is not easily found- no surprise there I suppose. The CD is graced by beautifully understated graphic design (by Randy Yau, presumably), with the letters KHZ cut into the black cardstock cover so that the silver CD disc surface peeks through. Even the barcode is tastefully inserted along the spine, the silver and black lines becoming the most active graphic piece in a delicate composition.

Released by Auscultare Research

Available from Ground Fault
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Aphasic J-U-N-K

One of my favorite Ambush 12"s ever was Aphasic's wonderfully titled "Bass & Superstructure". The blend of frantic jungle beats and white-hot distortion was just as expertly handled as on DJ Scud and I-Sound productions, but Aphasic's tunes always had more of a very attractive dancehall bounce. Aphasic, aka Jason Skeet now brings us Junk, a new label that has issued three excellent 12"s that develop and expand the Ambush sound into a more deliberate take on dub, hardcore, jungle and noise.

Junk 01, "Yeah Yeah Yeah Whatever", features 4 tracks by Aphasic, with some assistance by Dutch producer Bong-Ra on one cut. The opening piece introduces the Junk label aesthetic- rave air-raid sirens, ragga basslines, dub echoes, sliced-up breaks and bleeps. The whole maintains a sense of order and a deeper groove especially compared to the more recent spate of spastic amen-mashers. "The Healing Power of Doubt" (with Bong-Ra) slips a stolen ragga vocal intro under buzzing synths, eastern-tinged percussion loops (tambura?), and a bit of sitar. A midtempo stuttering dancehal-ish beat emerges as an indian female voice moves to the forefront, with ragga vocals still swimming underneath. A carefully (almost delicately) assembled mix. The B-side opener adds diva voices ("take me to the top!!") to the air-raid sirens, sped-up two-finger synth sequences and massive breakbeat explosions. Ecstatic female moans mix over guitar-riffs punched out on a sampler. Aphasic has toned down the white-hot noise distortion that caked his Ambush records (and still survives to a certain degree in I-sound/DJ Scud/Wasteland) and the whole affair moves with a much more orderly sense of dance-floor logic than the frantic speedfreak jungle of "Bass and Superstructure". The EP's final piece, "Get Lost", blends tabla, doomy synth washes, and some dangerous-sounding feedback whistles kept safely under control. A sluggish clanking percussion break slowly emerges as echoes drift in and out in dubbed out bliss. The dub + tabla mix works very well- I love this track. I played it at 45 and it still makes beautiful sense- the synth bass line moves so slowly, it doesn't sound excessively fast at that speed.

Junk 02 is "Owleygirl" by Belgium's prolific Sickboy, whose debut 7" "Ganja Bullet" was one of the better amen-break tunes i've heard in a long time. A 12" on Peace Off continued to develop his sound but I thought Sickboy's "Shake Hands With A Clenched Fist" LP (on Mirex and Tigerbeat6) was a bit too spastic and abrasive- if you can imagine anybody within this genre objecting to that. But after hearing this excellent 12" I will have to relisten and re-evaluate that release. The title track which opens the disc is fast chopped-up rave noise full of sped-up hardcore-styled vocal snippets, kickdrums, handclaps, and distorted bass stabs. "Junkcats & Alleyrats" is slower and funkier, with lots of hiphop vocal samples (played at "real" speed) and then overlays of sped-up voice fragments. Underneath the voices are many, many short sound clips, creatively mangled and effected, sequenced in a way that doesn't disturb the groove. The flip opener "Trio Inferno" brings us clipped speed funk, more helium hardcore vocals ("work that body!") and a hard raving feel without too much cynicism. The final piece, "Owleybass"is my favorite- a magnificent dub cut that sounds just as good at 33 (maybe even better) than the 45 the rest of the EP plays at. Dub bass and echoes move at one speed (slow churning menace), chopped up breaks and clicketty percussion works around that at an almost-too fast speed (which is why I tested it at 33)- simply superb and worth the price of the 12" for this track alone.

Junk 03, "We Are Junk" is four more tunes by Aphasic. A-side begins with "Junkfunk", a super-catchy stomping gabber-rave monster, full of bleep squiggles, sirens, and bass synths galore. Extremely dance-floor friendly and along with Sickboy's "Owleybass" my favorite Junk moment so far. "Junkrock" deploys a cut-up break loop and stop-start stutter as sine tones rise endlessly in pitch. bleeps and synth explosions fade in and out over a slow and abstract anti-groove as hard distorted kickdrums appear and disappear. The B-side opens with "True Shots", as a strange flanged out vocal intro leads into a stop-start dancehall-ish beat that is viciously interrupted by some dense breakbeat explosions and not a little bit of white-noise. But the mix pulls back constantly into cleaner shinier sounds, retaining the skank feel, adding hoover bass tones, bleep intrusions, and zooming loops. A bit like a spaced-out, IDM-aware take on the old Aphasic Ambush sound. EP closer "Several Directions" is abstract outer space echoes over stark richly textured loops that insinuate a dub and reggae skank. Stretched out vocal moans and subtle breakbeat incursions flow through a skeletal, head-nodding dubbed out mix. Dub is the key here- reggae-derived rhythms form the structure and are embellished by judiciously chopped-up breaks and the whole is tweaked by careful attention to texture. Less density of sound gives the tracks that spaced out feel that is very attractive and listener-friendly.

Just out on Junk is a 12" by Patric C (Din-st) which, needless to say, is on my shopping list.


Junk records can be purchased at Wrecked (USA) and digi/tal:net (Europe)
|| carlos pozo, 8:41 AM || link || (0) comments |

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Delien "Aon" EP

New release on the estimable LowRes label is this 4-track 12" EP from Delien- a new Detroit duo consisting of producers and visual artists Pete Greko and Atsiluth. "Aon" begins with a deceptively harsh intro before settling into thick midtempo electro-funk groove punctuated by fizzy textures and hard pop-locking rhythms. Delien remind me a bit of the excellent (and perhaps underrated) work of fellow Detroit producer (and fellow LowRes artist) Kero
- the same clipped funk using the same intense attention to texture and an almost microscopic approach to sequencing. Like Kero (and unlike, say, Richard Devine) the grooves lead the way here- and there are some monster grooves all over this EP. Unlike Kero, Delien spice up the mix with a bit more industrial aggression- the textures ooze a bit more doomy menace and the drums pound just a bit harder. "New Sequence" dices up trumpet loops and crazed bleeps into clipped robo-funk full of stop-start silences and intricate programming. "Alchemical Improv" opens with a (by now) prerequisite ragga vocal intro that gives way to a lo fi speak-and-spell singalong voice over another hard beat- a bit faster and harsher perhaps than the tracks on the a-side. The EP closes with a remix of the title cut by LowRes label owner Adjust, who builds the track up into a linear hard-rocking tune more stomping that the more broken-up feel of the other three pieces.

LowRes page about this release with sound samples:

Delien Home Page:
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Monday, January 03, 2005

Liquid Sphere "Hammer of Wisdom"

Laurent Guerrier's Liquid Sphere project returns with this excellent CDR on his own LSI label. Laurent has quite a touch when it comes to producing drone work- and there are some beautiful examples of his skill on this release. The Liquid Sphere sound consists of very hypnotic drones built from deep electric hums and shimmering metallic tones with overlays of crackles, glitches and subtle loops. Though mostly not harsh, the intensity of the sound does reach noise levels at certain points- like the beginning of the disc itself, which startled me a bit- and on "Burning Oil", which interrupts the soothing bleep and feedback serenity of the preceding piece. The CDR is divided into two parts- the first 9 tracks, "Hammer of Wisdom", combine for a total playing time of 43 minutes. Tracks 10 through 12 (titled "Vajramudgara" parts 1-3) take up 23 minutes. My favorite piece is the 10 minute second part of "Vajramudgara"- where a trebly metallic loop becomes overwhelmed first by an almost subliminal bass tone that slowly rises in volume and then a click loop panned from left to right. The volume level of the click loop keeps rising and gaining a bit of distortion. A very intense and lovely piece. Fans of Joe Colley/Crawl Unit, Mirror, Stilluppsteypa as well as lovers of drone who aren't afraid of a little abrasiveness should seek this out.

Order this release direct from LSI here:

|| carlos pozo, 10:18 AM || link || (0) comments |