Thursday, September 18, 2008

Andrea Ferraris - three releases

Andrea Ferraris, who is a music journalist and musician sent me three releases that he appears on. These areelectronica and improvisation - Andrea plays guitar, photothereminkaoss pad, jack, pedals etc on the various albums.

In Ur he is joined by Mauro Sciaccaluga and Federico Esposito on a similar array of various instruments such as contact mikes, 
samples, pedals, violin, vocals, bass; and Baptism and Birthday is a live recording from 2005 that was released privately (see the myspace link). Part I opens with a humming buzz, echoed metallic percussion and thereminliketones. There is a sense of possibility and potential energy as it builds with small bursts and a throbbing. A descending slide enters, and there is a feeling similar to that before a thunderstorm. The entrance of a sample 'There are a lot of hippies who need help' that loops through to the end. Screaming guitars,pulsing percussion and into a textured noise, dense, hard, swirling, pulsing. The sample returns, accompanied by high feedback. There are distorted voices in as a fade with clanging percussion ensues. The 
second part is based around seeming restrained chaos - a base of looping layered chopped voices runs through most, often with a drone element. Over this various sounds (guitars, theremintones, feedback) make excursions, slowly industrial-type noises develop - a shouted vocal weaves through, and banging feedback guitar noises. The piece rolls forward with power and subtlety. Towards the end the voices fade out and rumbles, whooshes and stuttering crackly eruptions take the running, wind chimes and voices and a slow wind down. This is exciting and varied improvised electronica.

Ulna Pairs him Valerio Paul - the two playing laptops, Andrea instruments, Paul editing mixing on Karl records. Frcture is an immediately appealing album, based on rhythmic smooth ambient techno - which is a possibly sterile field, but these two have created an engaging warmth. Blck crss shde reminds me of Porter Ricks with an insistent bass loop building together with with a rapid pulse providing a bed for ambient tones and colours, a delicately balanced dichotomy before a strange scream ending. The next two tracks explore similar territory, mixing ambient and beated components, with expected breaks for short instrumentals before beats return. Both are very enjoyable with excellent sounds and mixing, but seemed a little formulaic. I was wondering where this would go when Smll prts recolleted came along and took a long time to introduce the rhythms, which were uncertain, and showed subtlety and restraint. Faster again for Lndn lvs n, but there is a lovely Middle-eastern feel that gives it a strength, reminding me of the aoundtrack to Exotica. The American west is suggested by the tones and spaces in Lce, slow beats, distant guitar and a quiet simplicity. A searchingly tenuous beginning for Hghfreqncy smb then a half-hea
rted abstract beat, becoming a bit more hearted and dirty, strings and wind before the break after which this samba gets it a bit more together, but a little madness invades the close. We close with an extended Cld sndyevenng which is spacey and spacious in its bobbly development. Empty and varied, a beat in after 5 minutes, awoobly mass squelches to a big tone, and then a playful outro which keeps changing proteanly. Some of the terms here may sound negative - but they aren't - this is polished effective intelligent dance music which appealsparticularly when it moves away from a straight beat and into something more exploratory, which it does for the majority - and the more straightforward beated tracks create a strong balance.

And then Airchamber 3 (on Amirani) with Andrea and luca Serrapiglio on a range of instruments - guitars, laptops, cello, sax, windcontroller and so on. This was compiled/extracted from improvisations. We open with two shorter tracks (about 3 minutes) - the first In a foreign land scrapes twangs, slide strings and blows with a noisy ambience which is barely controlled after whichThe jaw... is pulsing driving squonking musicality: the drive draws you along with it. Two long (15+ minute) tracks with a short intervention follow. These are subtler and evolving unfolding pieces, involving the cello and longer guitar notes, both are well balanced dark ambiences (Standing by the shell sea mitgiacinto and An unsafe ground to walk on). Ok, they are long extracts from slow sinuous improvisations, which almost test your patience but change and develop to keep focus. Silence makes a dangerous sound is a scrapping creaking piece, long guitar tones and chopped voices. To end the album another pair of shorter tracks - The heart is flat (etc) brings in Alessandro Buzzi on percussion to add a clatteringness to the sax and guitar. And then a brief reprise of Standing ... with more lovely cello. Interestingly, the album has a harsher noisier edge at greater volumes - some of these elements are subdued at quieter volumes, so you can easily control the mood. Very nice improvisations with a good range of sounds.

So - a diverse range here - nice to be able to hear the variety that people can be involved in. Something for everyone here!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mystified - Baseline & Coldstream - c30

Mystified sent me another couple of CDrs, one of which was from a new label Amp Tower, based on a blogspot. The first release was by Coldstream, and Mystified's is the second (a release of 50). Once sold out the releases are to be made available through (how I got the first release - follow links at the blog/site).

We listen to music through our musical history - so here is part of mine. I bought King Crimson, In the Court of,
from a friend at school and sort of liked it. Then my sister bought me Larks' Tongues in Aspic which amazed me and won me over (that period KC is it for me - also note a connection with Tom Phillips). That same sister was a fan of Bowie, and then one day in the car and over the radio came Always crashing in the same car, from Low. Again, another epiphany about what music could be. Soon after someone played me Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy) and I bought a copy of Another Green World and a musical trinity was set up for me. Sometimes I play 6 degrees of separation to connect various artists in my record collection to that Eno/Bowie/Fripp heart. Hence the many references to Fripp and Eno here especially. So where does it fit here?

Well, this Mystified album reminded me of what is one of Eno's many atmospherically perfect songs - The Belldog
Most of the day/we were at the machinery/
in the dark sheds/that the seasons ignore

(words thanks to More Dark Than Shark). And the majority of this album Baseline could be a site recording from those machinery sheds.
(OK - it's a long bow to draw, but my mind works in Mysterious was.) We start with some Man machine drones active ringing tones, some softly buzzing and some deeper vibrations: metal with softer undersides. Waves of whooshing from machines that a throbbing deeper underground in Hertz two oh, before rumbling hiss of Diesel powered equipment. We are moving with Uncertainty listening to soft winds through the tunnels and come across a buzzing, more active Baseline, high tonal-voices woven in. Strange winds simply as titled, rumbling of a distant train, and in some ways ends this phase of the album.

It becomes more active with Mystified's remix of Piskadear, pulsing rings and more variation and sounds in the drone, before a complete switch is thrown in Always beginning where we have beaty fast rhythm loops, guitar ambiences and a sense of activity. Back to drifting with the long, shifting ringing descents of Polar out, reminiscent of Eno's Apollo, some of which are ear-ringing. A reprise remixed by Coldstream ends the album with a rawer version, more edge and echo on the loops. Another excellent ambient outing from Mystified.

C-30 by Coldstream is a collection of varied ambience: Learn is composed of lovely long ringing tones, layered, with passing crackles, hints of distant events and gentle percussion. After that, Search is harsher, dark shimmering tones with a deep echoing throb that suggests piano. Taken builds slowly from soft industrial tones to a more active harsh and almost aggressive ambience of forward tones, pulsing, crackling and then gradually fading away before a short burst of reverbed guitar and heavy crackling interference in Fia that disappears as insects calling. There are plenty of ideas in here, with changes in tone and texture, to keep listening for the 30 minutes. A worthwhile download.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ratchet Orchestra - Live at Sala Rosa November 28, 2007

This came out of the blue - and I can't really point you to somewhere to get it from. Nicolas Caloia runs the Ratchet Orchestra, an apparently flexible jazz combo among other things. He was on one of the disks in the NoType Montreal Free set and is active in that scene.

There are 27 artists listed on the front of this - indicative of the big band sound - and the 6 tracks are by Caloia (3), Sun ra (1) and Lombardo (1 - not sure who this is!) There is so much going on here - September has a slow intro of bass, horns, piano and drums, with whistle and clarinet melodies. It loops and builds, somewhat raucous with a little free jazz over the top. But for a live recording it is very clear, you can pick out the instruments as it whirls and swirls to a climax before a short drum and piano solo that slides into Love on a faraway planet. OK - I've heard of Sun Ra and bits of his but not much, and the two tracks here suggest not enough. They are contemplative restrained and very attractive - parallel orchestrations and a subtly oblique melody draw you in. A short joyous lilting from Carmine, with an Eastern swing, before a scrabbly fiddle, bass and second violin on T(h)rust. The others join after about 3 minutes for a building, exciting ensemble, with some wild winds and the fiddle still going at the end.

Drum and bass support the winds on Tiny pyramids, sinuous and melodic, this has a lovely violin solo with clarinet, a band building section before a drum solo and a bird-whistle. In the final track, Unconditional, flute piano and percussion build slowly, horn lines enter creating tension, dropping back to bass piano and clattery percussion. The winds return before a gentle finale.

I have got to like the big band free jazz orchestral stuff - some of Nathan Hubbard, or Jeff Kaiser's albums (or, looking at an old australian 12", the Hot Half Hour). And this is another beauty to add to that roster. As I said, I have no idea how you can get this - I have kept Caloia's address if people want to ask me for it - I would rather not publish it. And if anyone has a better link, let me know. UPDATE: Nicolas got in touch and has provided the link to buy this album, so go here