Sunday, April 13, 2008

eh? tu: diamondhead and brekekekexkoaxkoax

A couple more from Eh?, with two more just arrived in the mail. These are quite distinct, but are (or seem) compilations.

Diamondhead, offering Dirty Realism (eh?34) provide no information on what the three members play - the grainy cover image shows guitars and drums - but the music includes keyboards. And the cover photo also indicates something about the music - it is murky and at times indistinct. The tracks here, apparently improvised, are relatively short, and the disk has the feel to me of being a compilation of some more 'experimental' bits of jams that have been taped over a while. They often come from nowhere and just end. Opening and closing are two ambient quiet pieces, keyboards providing drones as subtle guitar and drums are added, with some electronica and phonography in 12. In the second track a little piano loop and later a piano solo combines with feedbacky guitar, while drones and organ working together in 4, the piano returning for 6 and 7 (where there is a bit of continuity) which has an increasing tempo. the guitar was more forceful in 3, but still a restrained ambience, though the single repeated bass notes that open 5 leads into a more aggressive work from the guitar and drums (with some tape-jumps). Becky Lilly adds some flute to 8 which works well with the feedback and piano. 9, 10 and 11 are more straightforward drum and guitars pieces, including some nice wah-wah and a bit more of a rocking feel, but still within the more ambient side. The individual tracks here are enjoyable and offer interesting aspects of ambience, but I couldn't feel an overarching aesthetic drive, nor a resplendant diversity which could compensate. You get the feeling that Diamondhead could do more, but this album is not a failure but a definite stepping stone that provides its own pleasures.

Brekekekexkoaxkoax (Josh Rosen) have put together a definite compilation in I manage to get out by a secret door (eh?35) comprising 2 improvs withJason Pierce, 2 solo pieces and another 2 improvs (with Glen Nuckolls and Genevieve Walsh) recorded between 2002 and 2006. Taking them out of order: Shoham ( which is track 3) is a wonderful layering of electronics providing ambient vibrating feedback with ringing tones in it. The mood returns in the fifth track - Art brings a tiny gleam, swamped in garrulousness (yes, titles as long as the pseudonym!) where turntables and guitars are added - again vibrant, ringing, chimes drones a crackling and a lovely long fade. Between these two We ought to have but one single thought is the first piece with Nuckolls and Walsh (guitars, drums, flute). The two guitars work here to provide an almost rocking/bluegrass feel as they develop the piece, gathering pace, the electric guitar a tonal wahwahing base. In the last few minutes it becomes more edgy and the addition of flute provides new tones. Jacob Green (percussion, electronics, oboe: and the others are now on percussion, guitar, flute and oboe) for the closing These are mere words, powerless, useless whose first half is full percussion with guitar through, while the woodwinds offer a tonal ambient second half. These two pieces are less than 10 minutes each and work well. Where I had some difficulty with the album was the first two tracks - 35 minutes - which is just Ronsen on prepared guitar and Jason Pierce on drums. Banality may vanish and truth may appear is almost 20 minutes of plinky prepared guitar whose percussive effects are paralleled by the percussion. The full range of picking, some feedback, scraping, playing etc are worked through but for me this was an opener that didn't really go anywhere for the first 15 minutes but did find a focus near the end. I kept skipping the second track - I never saw the end of the fire - fearing 16 similar minutes. However, when I did get round to it I really enjoyed it - more active from both guitar and drums, gets almost beaty at times, but also struck through with ambient tones. This is a good album - the variety on it provides a welcome diversion. However I would program the album with this track first, then the others alternating as currently and ending with the current first track as a long farewell. And make it an even better album.

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