25 November 2002
His eyes blindfolded, Domenico De Clario sat down at his piano at every sunset from June 1 (during a full moon) until June 28 (another full moon) in 1996 and recorded a series of improvisations which are released here on the Nonplace label. The recordings developed out of an invitation to participate in a project titled "The Quiet in the Land: Everyday Life, Contemporary Art and the Shakers" curated by France Morin. Domenico De Clario performs blindfolded in order to amplify the double connection between his body and that of the piano as receiver-transmitter, and also because he feels that he is able to "stay longer inside each second" while performing. Throw in a preoccupation with the seven chakras of the body, and you've got a pretty good idea as to where this artist is coming from. His music is, by contrast, without pretence, and exists on a level of simple, calming beauty. Without much variation in tempo Domenico De Clario performs in a steady stream of melancholy, of shimmering sadness reflected on the water of a quiet brook the pieces are bewitching, yet their constancy has a double effect of sometimes leaving me anxious for greater variation. And yet this anxiety is quiet, overcome for the most part by the nocturnal tranquillity of the music, a long, long lullaby. It's certainly an unexpected turn for the Nonplace label, usually the home for Burnt Friedman's dub incarnations. [Richard di Santo]
EA is perhaps an individual, perhaps a trio from Poland. There are three names listed here: Patryk Zakrocki, Viön and Membrana. Are these aliases or individuals? In any case, here is the latest instalment in Mystery Sea's growing catalogue of limited edition CDRs, and like their previous releases this one focuses on the darker side of ambient, deep drone music, here made with manipulated field recordings and prepared guitar. Four tracks, nearly sixty minutes in length, and not a ray of sunshine to be seen. EA takes you right through the depths, through dark caverns and bleak industrial basements, the concrete full of cracks and falling apart, the droning of machines clouding the silence at every turn. Close, concrete tapping, crackling, striking, rattling sounds punctuate the foreground of otherwise shifting, deep drones and static. The tracks evolve slowly and create strong moods and atmospheres that engulf the listening space in compelling ways. The notes here mention that this might be the last release from AE (why, we'll never know), which, after diving deep into their sounds for an hour, seems a pity. [Richard di Santo]
Frog Pocket returns with a new collection of tracks, a unique concoction of what the label calls "splatterbeat" (a nice onomatopoeic word, a style growing out of the spontaneous nature of dense, random-style IDM-inspired beats, full of interruptions and flourishes), bizarre electronica and folk flavours (a fiddling fiddle, a strumming guitar). Mix up a bit of drum'n'bass, sweeping, dramatic synths and a variety of moods, from mellow and sad to uptempo and inside out, and you have Baral Orgen. It's certainly one of the original and accomplished offerings from Frog Pocket, aka John Charles Wilson, showing his most inventive side yet. Where some of his earlier works might have seemed a little rough round the edges, with many interesting ideas, twists and turns but still a bit unsteady, here the music exudes confidence and creativity. If you love the beats, embrace acoustic quirks, have an ear for electro-madness and don't mind a little seriousness now and then, this one's definitely for you. [Richard di Santo]
Unlike the debut bliss-work of his alter ego on Playthroughs (Kranky), which is steadfast and singular, this compendium by Hrvatski is more kinetic and scattered, testing the limits of RPM, ADD attention spans, and hearing levels, threatening to shake the listener to pieces. Gnashes right from the start, an AppleTalk-ing toast to Kid 606 that is whiplashing and riotous. He then slows it down for a minute or two with some field recordings and a blurry but visceral take of "Paint it, Black" that slides and scratches all over the place, rubbing it all raw by the end. Who wouldve thought there were so many possibilities to this song? Things get more jittery and uneven from there though, to the point of tinnitus or distraction. Simple elements, like Gameboy F/X and Music lab pianos get processed to the saturation point, and most of the compiled tracks go for the grail by the singular means of complete space inundation. When the breakneck editing pace is alleviated, in the fleeting seconds of "ewc4" or between the breaks of "Carrot," the immense craftsmanship at play can be gleaned more readily. The breaks and claps married to Swedish psyche rock in his cover of Trad Gras och Stenar's "Tegenborg" which chug and then drone so heavily at disc's end, almost salve the entire affair, were the drone not snipped short at four minutes. Didn't he put a cover of Pink Floyd's "Cirrus Minor" at the end of his last CD? Part psyche, part drill 'n' bass and gabber, but too piecemeal for a cohesive listen, but excels in sections. [Andy Beta]
Mixed debris wasteland of chunk and aural cunnilingusthe live is always erotic even when it's a robot, as Steven Shaviro will tell you when discussing Chris Cunningham's Björkbots. And here we have a handbook for virtual sex:  immersion into warmth of clickscape (slip into something sonically suiting),  flitting noise-bands thinslip into headphonicear (temptation thrusting),  jazz-below-the-belt and kind on the neuripples (heavy processor petting). But then it's all confusion and the abstract jumble of bleeps, videogame scores, tumbling numbers burn together in a multiple mindmeld of heavy listeningbrainwaves reconfigured with sudden virus! Upsetter camera-view! Hold on, overtop & striving an eerie trumpet of slinky criminality and it all FLIPS TO LSD: fractal-colourvision (and now the TV_band_60's_cover makes sense), hold on Ringo, it's time to implode Grandma's cheeks with the bubblebath...
Inside the extra-long and heavy jewel case it reads: STRUCTURES WITH MONOCHROMES ON REPORTS OF THE GOLDEN NUMBER 1,618033989. People tell us that this is a "a standard proportion for width in relation to height." And Herodotus tells us that this is the ratio of the pyramids. The Golden Number is found in all the best Churches and so forth and Le Corbusier rounded it off to make doorways. Some people attribute to it something like the mystery of pi and occult numerology.
...after the trip bubbles psychedelic blitches, crackling jazzer returns to sing what Miles Davis woulda' if he was alive and able. It's a slow make-out jam: Jelinek on the wires, sexing circuitry; Computer Soup dishing out bowls of late-night lounge blizzard in Japan, all live, all liveI mean they jammed kid, computers and instruments, bits for bytes, mellow jam on the Jelaptop Japtopit's an aural feast, layer and layer of intricate micro-detail (but watch out the audience, stripping and slipping coding cult members have orgied in perverse manga-fashion). [Tobias c. van Veen]
Thilges 3 draws attention to the details "which ultimately don't make a difference. They are individual yet universal: Body-Hygiene, Food Intake, Rituals." Recorded at a nursery and an old folk's home, a penitentiary as well, they too want to draw attention to society's division between youth and age, between relative freedom of everyday wage-life versus state-induced lockdown. How this ties to their slowly heaving modular analogue synth sidewalks, repetitious footfalls, and everyday building facades is quite beyond me, but they invoke breakfast, quiet time, lockdown, lunch, story time, and other routines from various institutions in between the chirps and crackles of the music. The idea is fully formed, but it is pointless to glean it through the audio portion alone. The wonderful childlike Adolf Wolfi-esque collage fold-out from the cover better relays their goals than the disc itself. Unfortunate, as these borders are worth investigating and dissolving through the music. [Andy Beta]
A light and bouncy release from Wang Inc., a trio of seemingly amicable electroboys from Italy. The music skips and springs along with a very good nature about it, inviting the listener to bob his head back and forth to the friendly beats. The tempo is quick and steady, and the sound palette is bright and inviting. Drum patterns are uniquely produced, and sound freshly laid into the mix. The mix isn't quite as thick as risotto it has more in common with a serving of spaghetti alla carbonara, with its looser form and teaseability on the plate. The music seems inspired by the likes of Mouse on Mars, but no other comparisons easily spring to mind. It's a fresh sound, and I rather enjoyed the disc's very open nature, which doesn't tie it down to any specific genre. Wang Inc. could go anywhere with their next release, which is a feeling I rarely get after hearing an artist for the first time. [Vils M DiSanto]
Late at night on July 10, 2001, Dan Warburton, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa entered a Métro station in Paris. Dan brought his violin and Jean-Luc his alto sax, while Eric took along his portable DAT recorder along with a stereo boom microphone. Together, they stood on the platform, they sat on the benches, they walked through passageways, they climbed and descended stairways, exploring the acoustics of this unique space. During their exploration, Eric seemed happy to bend a careful ear (and microphone) to the sounds around him, while Dan and Jean-Luc were not shy about making some sounds of their own. Dan's violin cried with a gentle melancholy, giving the atmosphere a sense of seriousness, of larger things, things beyond the underground station. At other times it was playful, elastic. Jean-Luc's alto sax complemented the seriousness of things, his subtle tones and unusual textures revealing surprises and, occasionally, dizzying frictions in the air. Eric's microphone picked up on the late-night activity of the station, a tram coming and going, loudspeaker announcements, footsteps, fragments of conversations, echoes of invisible objects and, of course, the compelling instrumentations of his two companions. Later in his studio, Eric took these recordings and performed some edits and mastered a complete work in two tracks on disc. The disc was then picked up by Mike Bullock, who operates the Chloë label out of Marshfield, Massachusetts. He released it in the limited edition we have here. [Richard di Santo]
Time, distance and those we love. These are the themes of love distance endless endless, a new work of solo electronics by Michael Rodgers, here recording under the name We're Breaking Up. Sometimes it happens that those we love most are so far away, when it seems that distances in space and durations in time are all we have. The separation opens up like a void you feel will never be filled, like this bridge will never be built, or that you'll never make it across. That we can talk with them on the phone, exchange messages or write a letter is but a small consolation: what we need is to feel them with us, to be able to hold them, hear them, walk with them and look into their eyes, simply share a space with them. Rodgers has taken this longing, the hard reality of distances, and created a new work of tense, mesmerising electronics. Abstractions, cut-ups, fragments, minimal tones and harsh textures all light up the stage during the 34 minutes of this recording. The longest track is constant organ drone accompanied by various feedbacks and electronic abstractions. It shifts around slightly for quite some time, but then it breaks down into pieces before I get too comfortable with its mesmerising shine. Listening to this release, I gather that Rodgers likes to keep things moving, never allowing himself (or his listener) to become too involved in a particular sound or gesture, and always ready to move on to the next phrase, expression, or cluster of sound. The results are intriguing, and I've enjoyed the journey thus far, so let's look out for more. Michael Rodgers co-founded TwoThousandAnd (along with Anthony Guerra), a new label based in London. [Richard di Santo]
Days into nights and back on repeat, cycling under and above ground, and still the oily ambient essence of Keith Fullerton Whitman's most recent eludes me, as oil on water's surface or little granular sand-sounds slipping through my grasping fingers. Like trying to cup and hold some of Folke Rabe's oceanic sound wave silt, Was??, while at the same time having early Labradford or worthy Flying Saucer Attack on the tongue, the little grit feeding back against the teeth, so utterly unspeakable in its throat-vibrating beauty is this disc. Its seeming surface unremarkability belies the amount of painstaking craftsmanship given to each sound and its placement on the five tracks. Whitman take these little kernels of guitar feedback or cord taps or sustained organ tones and wraps ring-modulated layer after infinitesimally processed layer around them until they are all singular pearls, strung together both cloudy and smooth, wholly rounded and balanced. It is both futile to describe and fruitful to imbibe each and every detail of this disc, as it fully fills both the headspace and the room acoustics with a gentleness and sense of distillation that is hardly reached by similar dream-drone purveyors in its true drift bliss. [Andy Beta]
More intriguing sounds from Christchurch, New Zealand, home of Peter Wright and the Apoplexy label, which he founded in 1998. Using guitars, violin, electronics, voices and a variety of bottles (bowed, suspended or otherwise), Peter has woven seven haunting tapestries of dark, droning sound, distant melodies submerged in a sea of drones, a place of silence and noise, of stillness and motion. At the centre of most of his work is the drone, often constructed from bowed instruments, and here we see him branching out with more diverse instrumentation, employing melodies and new techniques into the arrangements. Since I first heard his music some time last year (or maybe it was nearly two years ago?), I have been captivated by his soundtracks, creeping into the listening space then slowly drifting out, leaving indelible marks all over the walls and carpet. There's always something hidden beneath the surface of his arrangements, which makes listening a pleasure. In an unusual turn of events, he concludes this release with a short song for solo guitar and voice. Look out for other projects by Peter Wright, including a bewitching release under the name Polio, also on Apoplexy. [Richard di Santo]
A very surprising gift from Mr. Keith Fullerton Whitman, and an amazing collection of crucial and lost slivers of both celluloid and sound, from right along the rim of the memory hole. Tom Dissevelt's soundtrack to "Glas" (dir. Henstra, 1959) is almost like an Henri Chopin poem, with weird squeals and reverberating breaths and crackling radio voices intoning with dreadful menace among the cycling noises. Turns out to be about glass-blowing, go figure. Gershon Kingsley provides a percolating soundtrack to "Pixillation" (dir. Schwartz, 1971), which shouldn't be too much a surprise for those familiar with his duo work with Perrey on The In Sound from Way Out. Very reminiscent of a coherent Sun Ra moog fugue and the most funky and taciturn of the entire set by far. "Free Music" from 1970, has Percy Grainger taffy-pulling some gossamer sound waves that thicken in a brief two minutes. The biggest name of volume one is Pierre Boulez, contributing his one and only electronic music piece to "Symphonie Mechanique" (dir. Mitry, 1956). It is an incredibly violatile magnetic tape piece that shimmers at a frentic pace, as if Raymond Scott and Xenakis are brainstorming sound ideas at the same time. A highlight of the set, as is Joan LaBarbara's piece. Probably more renowned as a 20th Century contemporary vocalist, along the lineage of Cathy Berberian, here she provides the pouring water, alien-lipped trills, and revolving rhythmic flutters for "Dance Frame" (dir. Chase, 1978), and it is vertiginous and brain-vaporising in its overall effect. The second volume brings forth two pieces by director Valerian Borowczyk, one being an historical soundtrack by Bernard Parmegiani for "Jeux des Anges" (1964). Roaring blindly with electric intrusions, it reveals itself to be the sounds of trains passing, slowing into drones of electromagnetic fields and distorted piano (or are they organ?) keys, which merge and split apart. Voices gurgle in with a percussion sound not unlike dropped microphones at the track's end. Noisy, and a very primitive bit from one of the future masters. Polish composer Wlodzimierz Kotonski's piece for "Dom" (1957) is flittering bits of key strikes and metallophone clops, swirling about each other with birdcall electronics. Percussion and metal scratching seeds the middle section, as more tape sounds swoop down to feast. A mysterious, melancholic, oddly reveberating horn theme joins in on the boings and gurgles to end the piece. With Yo La Tengo re-scoring the nature films of Jean Painleve recently, it becomes all the more crucial to hear Pierre Henry's original slithering and carbonated contribution to "Les Amours de la Pleuvre" (1964), which makes up half of Volume Three. Matching the onscreen movements of the octopus, Henry wags disturbing tentacles around the loud French narration, dropping in cavernous water drops between all the wiggling sounds, and making it all feel as clausterphobic as if you were yourself in its clutches underwater. Another Kotonski soundtrack, for "Labyrinthe" (dir. Lenica, 1962), ends the series. Pianos, black boughs, and looming maze walls are all set to vibrate in the shadows, along with some chilling laughter and odd chatters. The wind breathes ominously, and one cannot help but to put this in the changer next Halloween. While overall sound quality is hissy due to generational dubbing, the scope of these three volumes is of crucial historical value. If only these films could be so readily retrieved for each listen. [Andy Beta]
The Incursion Music Review was published and edited by Richard di Santo from 2000 to 2004. All 75 issues can be accessed in the archive. Please note that we are no longer accepting submissions or promotional material for review.
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