October 2007 Archives
Sunn O))): Black One Expanded 2 CD Edition (Daymare Recordings) - 2 x CD
2005's supremely majestic release by Sunn O))) is given a makeover by Japanese import label Daymare. To which I succumbed....I mean, look at that packaging. 'It took the night to believe' with it's mantra of "cry yourself dry" takes the honours as my favourite Sunn O))) track of all time. With 'Cursed Realms (of the Winterdemons)' coming a close second. Both tracks ease off on the bass pedal a tad and instead envelope gutteral vocals around an all-engulfing frozen tundra.
The additional bonus CD previously came out in limited numbers and is a live recording made at Alzette Kulturfabrik, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg in February 2006 during their European tour.
Eric is French, but I don't hold that against him. Quite the opposite, he's one of the front line soldiers in the cultural wars. Eric runs No-Signal and has been responsible for some of the best nights this jaded, cynical old twat has experienced in London. Plus he lets me DJ once in a while.
The Wire - that's the music magazine, not the HBO TV series (more on that later) - are celebrating 25 years of writing words about music. And Eric, bless him, has decided to put on two gigs in conjunction with the magazine to celebrate. Both are in West London and will be held in the beautifully rendered Bush Hall. Last time I was there, I saw Fennesz giving it some welly.
Not Eric. Rafael Toral.
The first night (4th November) is called 'Tones of Finland' and features three bands I've never heard of. But the last time I went to Finnish themed music night, I was totally captivated (that was the memorable Fonal Records showcase at the St Giles in the Fields Church back in March 2006). The second night (17th November) is the one I'm really interested in. It's got an impressive line up of artists that I've yet to hear live. But for me, the highlight will be Rafael Toral's interpretation of his 'Space' album.
Dropped last year on Staubgold, this was a pretty impressive piece of work. Just to give you an idea of how amazing this album was, check out the kit list....modified MS2 pocket amplifier feedback with light-controller filter, amplified coil spring percussion, gloves and theremin-controlled computer sinewaves, theremin-controlled white noise generator, delayed feedback empty circuit with joystick-controlled filter modulation, joystick-controlled sawtooth pulse bass resonance, pure and filtered sawtooth oscillator pulses, random pulse width modulation oscillator.
Needless to say, it'll be ace.
Go to http://www.no-signal.net/wire25 for tickets.
Rafael's Space manual.
Thursday 11th October 2007
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London
I like extreme computer music. Let's get that bit out of the way. Must stem from my childhood liking of early Radiophonic material. And probably all that weird tape loading noise I had to endure whilst waiting for my Commodore 64 games to load.
Russell Haswell & Florian Hecker who've managed to carve out names for themselves in the world of noise and electronic music recently delivered an album for Warner Classics & Jazz (oh yes, you read that correctly). 'Blackest Ever Black' was an album of electro-accoustic compositions based around theory put forward by Greek composer Iannis Xenakis.
Haswell & Hecker. Click here to view flickr.
The idea (I think) is this: drawings and scans of images are fed through a laptop version of the Xenakis' UPIC computer system. The resulting sounds are then diffused through a mixing desk, where they can then be thrown about in different directions. Sounds range from harsh white noise to circuit-bending frequencies that topple the low end. Oh, and did I mention it was loud. Fucking loud.
Some of the audience left very early, whilst the rest stuck it out keeping fingers close to ears. Visually immersive too, an impressive laser show doused the audience, whilst dry ice and strobes almost rendered you blind.
Pan Sonic, by comparison, just didn't cut it. After all, six speakers beats two. As a result, the Finns were less direct, less well-defined than the Austrian / English duo.
Haswell & Hecker. Click here to view flickr.
Rhythmically tight: they totally own it, after all they have had nearly 14 years of experience. They looked like (and at times sounded like) an electronic rock act. Collision of frequencies that sounded like guitar and Ilpo Vaisanen's knob twirling antics onstage were proof. It was only near the end of their set when things got interesting. Beats were dispensed altogether and they upped the noise threshold.
Tod Dockstader: Aerial (Sub Rosa) - CD
All the signals point to the fact that I should have been listening to him all along. He's had an interesting career: soundtracked Fellini's unwatchable 'Satryicon' amongst other things, has had loads written about him and he's been bigged up by the likes of Autechre.
'Aerial' on the whole seems to be primarily concerned in trying to scare the shit out of you. Murky, strains of orchestral suspension that constantly shift in and out of focus. It's like immersive 5.1 sound without the hassle of having the equipment. The opening 12-minute 'Song' seems to say everything before the remaining tracks spiral off and explore different terrain. Digital artefacts start to creep into the lo-grade rumble and it all starts to disintegrate gracefully.
Play it back in a spacious environment and it'll reap immediate and obvious rewards. Immersive, unsettling, functional.
Oren Ambarchi: In the pendulum's embrace (Touch) - CD
Whilst flirting with the outer limits - whether it's deeply experimental laptop exercises with Keith Rowe or the doom-laden low-end speaker worship of being a supporting Sunn O))) member. Oren Ambarchi's solo musical excursions have tended to be more gentle, introverted and accessible. It may be a lot less dense than his previously acclaimed 'Grapes from the estate' LP. But if anything, it's more successful.
Guitar, bells, drums and voice unfold unhurriedly in music that never fails to captivate. A moving and staggeringly beautiful record, he nearly made everything else this month sound shit.
Silicon Scally: Dark Matter (Satamile) - LP
For a short period in the late nineties, electro seemed to inject itself with a new purpose. Practitioners of techno and house moved over to the world of the syncopated snare and delivered rich variations that still stand up today.
But now, in 2007, electro has nudged closer to the tedious world of breaks music rather than aligning itself with Detroit (techno) or New York (hip-hop). Further evidence is provided here from Liverpool's Silicon Scally. The slower, more brooding tracks work well, but the rest is sped-up machine clatter that passes without incident. The slow burn of 'All Torque' stood out as the singular highlight.
Metroneem: Skip Code (Satamile) - 12"
Blotnik Brothers: Museful Revolution (Satamile) - 12"
E.M.S.: Colonized (Satamile) - 12"
Bytecon: "ep/A.R.T." (Satamile) - 12"
Skip the following if you don't like electro.
Metroneem's debut has enough hooks and pulls to keep an electro mix running along for a few minutes more on the dancefloor, otherwise this merits no home listening values whatsoever. Blotnik Brothers score much better, if only for the use of French vocals on the opening 'Le Monde'. The other tracks are equally accomplished, with a real sense of timing and cinematic oomph.
E.M.S. are not to be confused with E.M.F., the latter made some pretty atrocious indie dance contributions to the English pop scene, whilst the former makes sparkly electro pop. An overwhelmingly enjoyable EP enhanced by the stunning neon drive excursion of 'Rhythmus Machine'. Bytecon end this round up on a downer, with their brand of rapid fire sped up throwaway drum mechanics. Nil points.