viernes, 27 de agosto de 2010

Concert Silence - Rain Furniture

Genre: Drone, Electronic, Experimental
Label: Infraction Records



In this project, we find Matthew Cooper, moonlighting from his Eluvium dayjob, communing with Charles Buckingham on a project dubbed Concert Silence - a recording captured then released. Word had hardly spread among ambience-chasers and Eluvium-spotters before it was withdrawn, taking on a mythical Shangri La-like aspect, to be ever-pursued - spoken of with a faraway wistful look.

Generally speaking these tracks work in a far more subtle way than on the album... The short opener 'With Bicycles' eases things in gently with a distant trebly rhythm working in the background while warm and soothing suggestions of melody battle it out for front place in the mix, until they eventually become a single enveloping, comforting somehow familiar friend.

'Strange Footing' continues with the same sound palette in a sort of dimmed down fashion to begin with, making the previous track sound like a distant memory. A little like a loop stuck in your head but somehow constantly evolving. For me this works on an almost dubby level and as the sounds are pushed to the fore they begin to develop their own idiosyncrasies; a slow yet functional muted percussive stomp becomes the skeleton for THAT hypnotic synth phrase, while small pops, glitches, crackles and rich ambient textures build into a fuzzy soundscape that constantly, but subtlety evolves. All the while the heartbeat of the drums is the underlying framework.

'For Leaves' works for me on many levels; the shimmering lead synth gives way to fractured micro rhythms which have a sort of reduced distortion which is all glitched up and feels like some ancient machine language magically crunching away. Then euphoric drones lift the track as it changes gear into a totally blissed out zone which eventually, gently retreats in a ghostly and emotionally resonant fashion with distant fading keys.

jueves, 19 de agosto de 2010

Kemialliset Ystävät - Ullakkopalo

Link Removed By Request of the Label
Genre: Experimental, Psych Folk
Label: Fonal

My Space / Web


Kemialliset Ystävät's Ullakkopalo is credited as having been recorded "where the horsefly slumbers." Its cover depicts hundreds of images, from lettuce to soft-serv ice cream and a snake, strung together in out-of-context, highly confusing fashion. And its liner notes are a juxtaposition of still images with stories about Emperor Ashoka of India, a market analyst and a 72-year-old man who hallucinated and beat his roomate to death. There's little doubt that Jan Anderzén, the man behind the unpronounceable-to-American-audiences project Kemialliset Ystävät serves to disorient. In fact, he has made disorientation into an aesthetic over numerous albums in the past decade, reaching a sublime level of hallucinatory lightness on Ullakkopalo.

KY's first album in three years, Ullakkopalo is a network of electronic collages unlike any other. Where some would use layers of electronic samples to build pretty or danceable soundscapes of warm and/or throbbing sound, Anderzén takes a decidedly batty approach, throwing gurgling, squealing and buzzing effects on top of one another, creating a messy and shaky thatched roof of sonic oddities over what are ultimately melodic, even beautiful compositions. This, in turn, has prompted many to classify the Finnish composer as a "noise" artist, due to the discordant and often abrasive nature of the elements he strings together. Yet, Ullakkopalo is not noise. It's not anything else either, though. One of its tags is "Fonal," the Finnish label that releases Anderzén's work, along with like-minded avant-gardists as Islaja and Päävoharju, which is good enough evidence that KY, as well as the other artists mentioned, are creating music that exists outside of any known genre.

As truly bizarre as much of Ullakkopalo is, however, it's very much a captivating and exciting release. It's also a thing of obscure beauty. Its presentation may initially be off-putting, but with just the slightest bit of patience, its vertigo-inducing layers of buzz and whirr become stunning melodies. First track "Kajastusmuseo" doesn't make it any easier though; squeaks, drones and strange electronic noises battle each other over a steady plod, slowly reaching forward to make some kind of sense out of each confusing piece. And then-eureka!-the 80-second mark unveils an electric guitar riff that carries the song out on a raft of psychedelic majesty.

The album only grows more warm and inviting, albeit ever slowly, with each new track. "Kivikasan Rauhassa" finds Anderzén ushering in a descending minor key melody from the outset of the track, with distortion obscuring its ghostly, Finnish-sung vocals. The folktronic beauty of "Nitty Veden Alla" recalls a more left-field Tunng in its blend of accessible acoustic sounds and electro textures, while "Maksaruahoja" floats between a buzzing swarm of electronics and an electric-guitar shuffle that could have been pulled from a vintage heavy metal record. And "Ystävälliset Miekat" is a work of exotic wonder, blending Eastern-sounding samples with post-punk guitar a la The Cure.

Out of context, almost nothing about Ullakkopalo makes any sense, from artwork to liner notes, to the hundreds of head-trip samples that erupt throughout its 14 tracks. Funny thing, then, that when the pieces come together, they come to form nothing less than mesmerizing sonic art. It's disorienting, discordant, and sometimes just outright weird, but extremely rewarding for those that dare attempt to soak in all of its head-spinning magic.

martes, 17 de agosto de 2010

Rafael Anton Irisarri - The North Bend

Genre: Neo Classical, Ambient.
Label: Room40

My Space


The work of Seattle based sound artist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Rafael Anton Irisarri delves into immersive explorations of dense layers of sound, incorporating a minimalist subtlety in conjunction with an enveloping approach to audio processing. Over the past five or so years Irisarri, under his own name and also as The Sight Below, has forged an individual aural aesthetic through the use of drones, processing, heavy use of reverb and a nod to contemporary classical sounds. Over this time, Irisarri has performed across North America and Europe whilst releasing music on labels including Thrill Jockey, Ghostly International, ROOM40 and Miasmah. Of his compositional methods, Irisarri confirms this, saying that “I’m working from a classical and post-minimalist foundation” when creating beds of sound for his works.
Adding to his already significant back catalogue, Irisarri has completed a new recording created in time for his upcoming debut Australian tour. Titled The North Bend, Irisarri explains that the album is inextricably linked with the aesthetic and imagery of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, where he resides.
“The record is inspired by this region, and not just with the fairly obvious ‘rainy, gloomy skies’ clichés, but more in the folk, cultural traditions and pop-culture references (think of David Lynch and his television-defining narrative Twin Peaks). They sort of helped me create an audio postcard of this beautiful area of the United States.”
An accomplished manipulator of abstract and melodic textures, Irisarri goes on to describe the compositional and artistic rationale and development of The North Bend, saying that “from a performance and compositional standpoint, the album itself is a progression from my prior works, mostly replacing the focus on the piano in favour of electronic manipulation of samples (either my own playing or from old classical vinyl records) and guitar playing. In fact, it barely contains any piano, only one track has a piano melody, and it is not even in the forefront, more of a textural melodic element in the background. Aside, I’ve continued to develop my guitar bowing techniques, furthering my palette and helping me craft new musical vocabulary in the process.