Friday, November 30, 2007

E-music pricing

Following from the second post, I don't get the pricing of virtual music. First, my feeling is the album price is too high - in general I baulk at $17 (aus) for something that I could probably buy for not much more in a shop. I will admit to not paying a great deal for the Radiohead album because I wanted to try it - haven't really heard much of their stuff.

Then there is the variation - the bargains. Some of it may be because of poor algorithms - at big pond you can do well if you are a Mike Oldfield fan because the first few albums are priced on the track number - so a few dollars for Tubular Bells. Similarly with Eno's Music for Aiports. But it is not consistent.

But it's 'boxed' sets that confuse me. Further to the ones in that post, I have recently purchased a full Wagner's Ring Cycle (14 disks) all Mahler's symphonies (10 disks) and Beethoven's (10 hours worth). These are not by dud people - the Mahler is on Amazon for $150 (US). But there are other similar sets at $80-100. Why? Not that I mind - I had wanted to hear some of The Ring and can now sample at leisure. It just seems odd.

Normal reviewing will be returning soon

Saturday, November 24, 2007

bob marsh - viovox

Viovox - Another new one from public eyesore (pit109) - Bob Marsh who has appeared a few times on the label with a solo album. And another where liner notes can be a distraction. Marsh calls these 'rantings, ravings, sermons, scenes, little operas and whatever they might be' which leads you to expect a spoken word album. Reading on you see he plays (and processes) his violin and cello, messes around with sampled loops and some electropercussion and processes his voice.

The result is a series of weird radio transmissions from another dimension - the voice shifts in and out of meaningfullness, instruments call and deconstruct and repeat, percussion weaves in and out, and the mind tries to build something from the words, grasping at interpretation as actual statements fly pass.
The musical looping playfulness scraping and scattering around in the background echoes into darkness.

Some titles are metonymic - the Amerindian feel to Indian summer, the tumbling Ready to roll, watery Oh bouy as waves drift and whispers whistle. Others reflect their 'text' I'm a sucka or Bring out the dead. Forest for the trees voice keens wordlessly over a twittering of birds and insects. Most tracks are relatively Short, but the final Calm down is extended and provides an opportunity for some lovely extended violin loops.

This is haunting as its phantasmal verbal tangets tantalise your desire to find meaning. The music fractures dissolving melodic meaning as well - creating an album of drama and fascination.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

M. - 2 releases

Two from a guy called M. - that have been waiting a while for a guernsey: sorry. The first Lucy Y Fer was recorded at the turn of the decade. It shows two f the typical features of a first album - some more obvious display of influences (the opening tracks in particular are recognisable industrial) but also a diversity as the backed up writing finds its outlet. Both albums have a focus on sex/sexual politics, more obviously in the second, but a title like Feminine boy is an indicator. There are 4 short interludes which divide the album into acts or scenes. The first two tracks, Where the day takes you and Feminine boy are driving and enjoyable industrial/heavy metal with balance between melodic chorus or components (an OOOOO line through the first), guitar breaks, wah-wah solo, drawled vocals. A great start. Interlude:light crackles and electronics, distant voice, then we rock into The voice in me with burbling synth and string chorus and then an interlude of tuned percussion and cello. Restrained backing, vocoder effects build in the haunting Piano is followed by A poet's seat over a soundscape 'don't try to comprehend any of this ... it comes from him'. The slow burning Star then an Interlude of playful children. The skin heals has strings, melotron like synths and is a strong work; an acoustic guitar short song, Interlude:desafinado before the pressure builds again in The end..the dream with weird calliope, cracked insdustrial rhythms, heavy guitar and lust. An interesting first album with attractive variety. M.'s voice could be a problem, as at times it reminds me of Weird Al Yankovic, but it is not unappealing and is nicely placed in the mix.

What probably held me back was the second album L'amour ext mort. This is quite a 'concept' album based on transgression and sexual politics. It is focussed and presented up close and personal. The vocal is to the front of the mix and at this level M.'s voice is a weakness, sometimes flat and a distraction. The opening song Lies in your eyes continues the strong musical direction of the first album - dark analog synths; Adam slows with guitar and dark ambinece, though Miss Zina (baise moi) has a nice drive and catchy chorus. As the album progresses the musical side is strong - slow buring guitar ambience in The motel-room song, dark foreboding in The story of joy, degredation and incest to the bloopy synth of Mother's milk, simple guitar and processed spoken vocals Goodby, swirling radio, guitar figures and a sample that exacerbates weakness in Baton rouge all develop the mood of the album. This is broken by a coda about how to draw a heart (F.B.) that slides into guitar and piano. This is a hard album to get into, but a very 'brave' one - it exposes M.'s vulnerabiulities both personaly and musically. It is a difficult second album based very definitely on honesty and strong feelings. It is not as immediately accessible as Lucy but has strengths of its own. I look forward to a third album that combines the musical variety of the first album with the intensity of the second - that will be an amazing release.

The best link I could find for M. is and
But now I have been advised that M. has a website

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Henceforth: Aguilar & Kihlstedt /Fujii

Two releases from Henceforth - a small label based in New York (ex of San Diego that joined the improvisation labels based there (I'm thinking Accretions and Circumvention)). Two new ones have arrived recently to add to the previous (Baggerboot and Sounds of Survival) reviewed recentlyish.
Gustavo Aguilar is a precussionist, composer, improvisor and demonstrates all these on Unsettled on an Old Sense of Place (103). Three tracks were performed by an ensemble that includes Aguilar (various instruments and live processing), a second live processor, voice and harp, viola and woodwinds. Xochicaloe uses a South American percussion as a solid base over which the harp and flute skitter, sometimes processed and looped, guitar descends and wordless voice create a dense complexity that eases out towards the end. In RoCaMaYoHa sliding dulcimer descedns into a wildness of percussion, shrill voice, honking that eases and rebuilds - Jeff Surak's Second Violin had a piece titled Hospital fugue of the mad nurse and that title would fit this. A martial percussion and electronics takes us out with swirling winds before more visceral high tones and extremeity and finally a period of agressive ambience (oxymoron anyone?) The final ensemble piece is Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (which is a group of cells, not nerve bundles as per the liner notes [don't get me started on them -
pretentious moi?]) - this emerges from rolls of thunder, fragments of vocal and woodwind peeps, building rhythm that then does battle with an electrical hiss which wins leading to another electro-ambient exploration - a nicely balanced piece. Between each of these are solos - the first a slow picked and percussive work on guitar that builds a flamenco rhythm and Dirac's theory on snare drum which uses a variety of techniques (including a coin dropped on it). The final track is Werndell's History - a poem by Wendell Berry put to simple but effective glockenspeil accompaniament, a touch that emphasises the scope of this album. An exciting album.

Minamo incorporates two performances by Carla Kihlstedt (violin) and Satoko Fujii (piano) in 2002 and 2005. The two artists, who apparently hadn't played together before the first or played again before the second, work seemlessly together riffing off each others ideas and providing space for development. There are touches of jazz, classical and almost rocking in the music, at times restrained before exploding outwards, swapping lead roles between the two instruments. The longest track from their first encounter - One hundred and sixty billion spray - starts with picking and plucking on both instruments as they then move into a dance in which the lead keeps swapping. In overview, the violin is sweeter and more playful while the piano more majestic, and while that perhaps simplifies it too much, the short Lychnis that concludes San Francisco demonstrates it. The second meeting was in Wels, and Larry Ochs feels it was less conducive, but still 'smoking' (in the liner notes - and better, simpler notes they are too) andI enjoyed it - as a single statement it has a structure that works very effectively and while the sound may not be as good, the music is exciting and delightful, with some sublime lyric passages. An excellent pairing of instruments and/or performers

Friday, November 9, 2007

a brief vinyl - D+D

Also from PE – D+D (Dereck Higgins and Dino Felipe no pit 105) with a self-titled 7” single double A-side. Blink and you could miss this – the pink 45 lasts less than 3 minutes a side. Properties (A) bleeps blurts squeaks scrapes in a quiet field – the eruptions appearing and disappearing. Guitar and synths seem to be the source of a relaxed randomness that disappears into the silent spaces. Ribbons (AA) has a fuller makeup, layered sweet synth tones with cable loose interferences, distorted voices, shimmery scrapes, burring compounding to a density. An interesting one for the vinyl junkie

13 songs mixtapes over

The thirteen songs mixtape adventure is over - the last (13th) release is available now. Still recommended and available for downloading the set. 12.rec has got too much on to keep doing them. a shame but thanks to them for what we have

Thursday, November 8, 2007

K M Krebs

Part of what will be an occasional 'composer' series, stimulated by something like stumbling over their webpage! Over the years I have come across people in various places and releases - let alone pseudonyms - and like the idea of pointing to their catalogue. K M Krebs first hit my attention as 833-45 with a number of releases on No Type. I found a few of these, then he sent me a couple of CD-Rs and then recently he popped up on Con-V a couple of times so I went looking for more. I found a few, which I'll touch on in a minute, but also found his home page. It includes a very nice blog covering his own releases, pointers to interesting web labels/albums, electronics and general stuff.

The most straightforward description of much of his work would be pointillist ambience - small elements looping modulating and layering to create long sweeping pieces. Those elements are percussive electronic syntheised sounds and
occasional voices or sonography. The works ebb and flow through your audio space. This side is exemplified by The Light Will Fill the Darkness... which was originally released on Mystery Sea but is now downloadable, the drifting electronica of the Fog sequence or his Rain 1 release for the Webbed Hand Netlabel series (833-45 has also released one, and more on the series at a later date, probably).

Then there are some more electronic works like Live at Muliplex 11, the two Jade Furnace releases comprising short pieces that are available to listen to or sample, or An Orange Radio.
And a 'narrative' work on the SineFiction no-type sublabel

As 833-45, the more abstract electronic side (though it is all leaning to abstraction rather than melodic or rhythm drive) is to the fore, creating with radio emissions and pulsations to create a more scientific industrial ambience. It was in this guide that most of his work for No-Type was produced, though Solar Cycle which I reviewed as CD-R has been net-label released also. That was meant to be 833's last release, but it is continuing.

Anyway Krebs is a fascinating artist to follow across the net - but for those who don't have the time, patience or downloads - there is a wonderful opportunity at the home page: a DVD collection of all the net works of Krebs in his various incarnations, some of which are no longer available. I haven't heard them all as my listening comes from years of trawling plus two cd-rs, but I can recommend what will be 20+ hours of satisfying listening.