Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shelf Life - Concerning the absence of floors

Another communication from improv ensemble Shelf Life made up of some combinations of Brian Day, Joseph Jaros, Alex Boardman, Luke Polipninck, Jay Kreimer and reviewed a few times here (october & december 2007). Playing guitar, percussion, electronics and more (no thing is listed on this album, but the sound suggests the sources from the past are continuing) they create dense pieces that, to my mind/ear, aspire to be considered as ambient music. They seem to decide on a mood or method for each piece and work within these constraints - which leads to a manageable consistency within tracks while allowing expansion across the album. This leads you to focus on the developing sounds and developments rather than the constant change and surprise that often drives improv albums.

Concerning the Absence of Floors is released by a label called Friends and relatives Records (po box 23, Bloomington, IN, 47402) but looks and sounds like an Eh? release, so could try from there also. The individual tracks are titled obsolescence.<4lettercode>. 5flb is the first and 5flc the second - which is pretty meaningless, which is the general rule with Shelf Life (one albums tracks were anagrams) s I won't repeat them all.

This is an album that straddles ambience and noise - at high volume as you listen to extract the sounds, the noise is to the front, but when you lower the volume for more relaxed consideration it becomes gentler and more persuasive. Again, there seems to be a decided mood/method to each track which provides a unity and held mood. The first is perhaps more scrapey, clickey, some deep tones and percussiveness that loosens in the second half, while the second is more shooshing ambientish scrapes and tones. The fourth track has only 3 players on and has more space in it - fewer people to fill the void - and after a noise-laden first half a strange organ introduces a softer side which develops into an amorphous sound.

The final track is again gentle - a venting, tapping, soft squiggles: the vent erupts but falls away, a slow pulse, shimmering and then a building feedback of noise before backing down to the end. The third track is scrapes and drones, electro and twanging pick, sound pulses buzzing, a gate closing, high squeaking voice sounds, beeps and mumbles building.

Yeah - hard to describe! But as an improvised noise/ambient/wall-of-dense-sound adventure another satisfying release from Shelf Life.

No comments: