Friday, October 31, 2008

Twilight Luggage

Following the previous post on Andreas Brandal, available for free download from Twilight are two other Brandal albums:

The dead station is the first Twilight release and suggests some of the positions and directions heard in This is not for you. However it also contains some of the more angular edgy forms that appear on the next album.

Insects is a shorter more recent one (available as a download or a cd-r with extra track and individual print) and uses the burring chirping side of the music to bring a narrower palate that does suggest insects. Integrated with this, though, is a range of other sounds that provide additional depth to the layers of insect - whip tones, slowed voices, musical moments.

Both of these two albums are worth sampling to give you an idea about the eh? release, which to my mind is both broader and more coherent

Lupus Golem is Brandal plus Hans Kristian Senneseth and Bjørn Kåre Berntsen and there is an EP on Twilight - Minotaure. This is a noise trio piece - heavy percussion, dense guitar feedback and more, stomping bass plodding along. Then shifting into slightly quieter, restraints which are soon broken through. Heavy dramatic gothic but also nuanced, this is an intriguing and fun thundering 20 minutes.

The tenor of Twilight Luggage is perhaps suggested by their latest release - Jliat's So what do you think I should do? I haven't been following his Noise series - just noted the reviews - and remember fondly his drone period. This is 30+ minutes of constant harangue: deep jet engines, scratching noise, guitar feedback chords cutting through like laser pulses, occasional computer burble as a lighter sound, and weaving through a distorted crackling which could be speech if you listen really hard (but then the brain will make speech out of sound). A strong emetic which should be taken carefully in measured doses. Not something i would listen to on a regular basis, but once in a while...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Andreas Brandal - This is not for you

Eh?40 is a departure from the improvisational mood of the label, but then you come to expect that from anything related to Public Eyesore. Brandal is a Norwegian who has been working on various projects since the 80s and releasing solo-work for about a decade. He runs a label - Twilight Luggage - which has one of his albums plus collaborations and some other groups. More on them in the next post. Is This is not for you for you? When I first put this on I had been listening to The Tone Generation podcasts (mentioned here) They immediately came to mind - but this then goes beyond that. So here are some thoughts.
The burning room with long slow tone melodies, crackles that move around, throbs and notes noises that slide in and out is a stately piece of concrete electronica. Ringing tones and gongs of the title track are lovely with muted crinkling and crunches. Soft tones form bookends to a rising ratchet and gentle voiceiness in The ghost opera. Acoustic guitar appears in Sleep miracle along with more tones soft and high gentle ones before a long scraping fade. A door opens at the start of Abreg ad habra taking us into an exploration of plucked notes (metal?wire?), a deep hum, billows that builds and releases, longer harmonica notes and strange crackles join in a fascinating extension.

Scifi tones, drifting restrained radiowaves all Shine. Then an aleatoric ambience of The mirror stage full of gentle stuttering, high and deep tones, wind, drifting simple warmth and guitary shimmers.  Concluding with Julien torma where loose cable skitters, a deep hum, sweet tones and guitar strums contrast harsher tones and clicks which emerge, sliding into harp-like reverb tones and crackles as the track ends.

This is an excellent album - amongst the often improvised and lo-fi recordings of Eh? it provides another view of where music can go - and this one definitely is music and belies its title for the sort of people I imagine reading this blog. Some more has dropped in from the label in the last few days, so expect some more noisier stuff soon - and meanwhile get this.
(And it's nice the see Eh? website get the full catalogue/review structure of Public Eyesore)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

10 free symphonies

Thanks to K Krebs, via Facebook of all things (which I am exploring) a pointer to a set of Symphonies from Dutch Radio 4 celebrating 120 years of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. They are mainly romantic, and come as a single file (the Bruckner is 85 minutes) but with a pdf cover. You have to register which is not much to ask. A nice set anyway.
go to here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dam Drm

Within various personal constraints I don't think of myself as a music pirate. So first my confessions. When Napster first came out I had a try and downloaded a King Crimson album but left it at that and I don't bittorrent. While most of my MP3 collection is either purchased (iTunes, Classics online and Bigpond) or downloaded from label/individual sites freely available, I do have a fair chunk of MP3 recorded vinyl (iPod or similar hooked up to amp via the earphones, giving long, single disk side or tape recordings: no-one else would want!) or ripped cds (again, only personal use). And I did associate 'We7', 'adverts' and 'audacity' in the same sentence/s - but those tracks would be downloadable 28 days later ad-free, and at that time the ads were for We7. And I did let them know when I got a few downloads that were ad-free straight off.

So the only real impact of drm for me is that the iTunes tracks won't play on my eeepc as it runs linux, and I had to burn the wma tracks to cd and rip to get MP3s. So I was pleased when Bigpond started selling MP3s (with some great classical bargains - a 17 cd Chopin complete set for $16.50: though their tagging doesn't include disk number at the moment which is a nuisance and another matter).

Anyway, my computer recently died, but luckily all the music is on an external disk, and I decided to make a dvd of my Bigpond wmas for security. Did that, then tried to play them (to check the copy) to no avail. The originals wouldn't either. So I went back to the Bigpond site FAQs and found that the tracks will only play on the computer you bought them on - and if you want/need to play them on another you need to repurchase them. Now I understand the reason the rights management, and agree with most, but this is outrageous. When you bought a new stereo, turntable, cassette player you didn't need to rebuy all your various forms of music. It takes management to extreme levels. And explains why people do pirate the stuff.

Luckily for me I had MP3'd them all (legally?) and now will only buy their MP3s - which are totally drm free: what a turnabout! I wonder how many people have really read that fineprint? At least iTunes allows a reasonable number of registered computers.

OK, so this is probably not news to most, but I feel better getting it off my chest.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ogogo - Linden

I am not sure how this came to me - iii records are based in Japan, and Ogogo is Igor (guitars, though there seems to be other instruments) and the album is Linden. It is based around 12 paintings by Ron Linden that are reproduced in the quality booklet. The paintings are flat semiabstract images, painted with muted colours. Some feature curved diamond shapes, that the final image, USSUR, confirms are eyes. Some represent three-dimensional cubist still lives, others flat compositions or almost calligraphic or musical notations of the eyes and stave bars (some are among those on show at his web site). Anyway, on the whole non-figurative and a big ask to create a musical interpretation. While I can see some trends in the music, I am not sure my reading of the music/image relationship is the same as Ogogo's - but that is irrelevant as it is the music which counts. There are four 'styles' that I can identify on the album.

The first three tracks (Eye spring, Flygel and Pidgin) follow a pattern that seems common of putting the most confronting music first. These comprise extremely choppy D'n'B percussion with guitar pulses and sorties together with some found sounds, but also with patches of calm. Initially these are not inviting tracks, but repeated playing provides more access. The style crops up again later in the album - Murdrus dueluct is another that is fast and distorted.

OK, my second category is electronica: comes in both fast and restrained, and takes the guitar/percussion mix and adding other instruments and more samples. Sabbatarian is full on with water sounds, choppy organ and a skittering guitar and has voice samples in near the end, the crackles, wargame tones and abstract noises of Preplay actually reflect the images. Shem the Penman is fast distorted and chopped/cut, changing density (and neither image nor music recall Finnegans Wake to me), and more chopping eruptions on Ussur.

Strangely classified by me as musical, or perhaps simple would be better: Eroscope features a slightly distorted keyboard melody, which is varied and modified with subtle restraint, Ohfey is a guitar solo with some gentle electrobacking.

Finally more structured pieces: Obdura moves through a solid rhythm loop and burr, a voice and plane sample, peacock calling, a mower the rhythm returns, peacock returns then drum and voice and finally a crushing crackle in the last half minute. My favourite The K is a long piece featuring a goose, rhythm guitar and a baroque like melody which weave in and out through each other. A beautiful light touch in this almost 9 minutes (any track featuring a goose has my vote, and an album with peacock is furtehr ahead!).

Two additional tracks: Eroscope vs Eye spring (dance remix) puts the rhythm of the first under the musicality of the second, to good effect, while the TRS remix of Pidgin is a reasonable reinterpretation but not at all radical.

On the album these tracks, other than the last two and the bursting of the first three, are mixed and shuffled together. The sequence works pretty well, and the elements which flow through (sirens, bird sounds) give the whole some coherence. Definitely an album that gives you access to its complexity and pleasures after a few listenings have got you in tune with the aesthetic. Not one to relax to but rather stimulating.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We7 backs away

Early on in the blog I recommended We7 as a place to look for free music. The model they used was free downloads with an advert at the beginning (about 10 seconds) and after 28 days you could download an add free version. At the time I suggested that the ad-model could easily be circumvented. They moved to include a streaming option a while ago.

However, in some recent 'Great news!' from the site. After commenting on more music being available and a new dsign, as a third point they indicate there will be no more ad-free downloads, and that downloading anyway will be limited to the UK. Streaming is still available - and they have expanded their roster (but they have also decreased it: the ELP bootlegs are no longer available, nor the Vidna Obmana). But there are other streaming sites, and a large population (eg me) who don't want to stream.

Anyway, it was a bold experiment and fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Embarrased thanks and a welcome

The thanks to Steve Roden for choosing us as his link of the day for The Wire magazine - and his kind words. Airform Archives is definitely my daily link. The Portal looks like an interesting place to hang out

And so welcome anyone who has come this way from there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mystified - Skywatchers

Mystified again - this one from a label called small-doses which does some very nice packaging (here the disk forms an integral part of the heavens, and the torn card creates a horizon. Mystified describes this as a 'concept album of sorts', without explanation - and being Mystified this could be musical or concept - his recent collaboration with Saluki Regicide was split so that 'one is assigned all frequencies below 1kHz, and the other gets everything above' - and the outcomes were later mixed together. And it works! It's a Webbed Hands download.

Skywatchers is some beautiful minimal ambiences - the tracks seem to offer a balance between two levels - the higher ringing buzzing washing hissing shimmering elements and deeper pulsing throbbing rumbling multifaceted components underneath. As in the beautiful evolving high ringing tone in Dark shimmer with a multifaceted rumbling undertone, active hissing like rain with big pulsating throbs of Big and round, or Saturated sky's soft ringing washes and pulse. Hollow resonant tones stutter towards a melody in Tactile waves and overall a minimalism that teeters on the edge between the conscious and unconsciousness, between a focus and an indefinable thereness which slowly evolves and twists just beyond awareness. Lose yourself while watching the sky.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vale ampersand at virtual avenue

I have decided not to continue with my virtual avenue account for the old style emailed ampersand. If anyone needs a copy of their review let me know - sorry about the broken links. It just didn't seem worth continuing the outlay.

Note: this does not mean the blog is dead, just the archive of old reviews

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Void of Ovals - Eftus Spectun, Oliver White, Goalkeeper Wanted

For a long time Bristol was for me some rhyming slang often used in English comedies. Then recently it cropped up in some great TV - Teachers, Afterlife, Skins, and a 'reality' series on learning to drive - and the city has become somewhere we want to visit next time we are in the UK. Then there is the music - some significant bands have come from the region - Pigbag, Portishead, Massive Attack, The Pop Group, Flying saucer Attack: in reality most regions have some names to call their own.

Anyway, this little diversion has been prompted by a parcel that arrived last week from a Bristol cd-r label Void of Ovals (try the link - it doesn't always work) with 3 releases and minimal information. While they are all 5" cds, they are 20minutes or less, so count as minialbums.

Eftus Spectun has been here before - they have an album on Public Eyesore reviewed in &notes - favourably and commenting on the great variety of material. The Talons Snag Binary is just about the opposite, and something of a concept minialbum. For 15 minutes a guitarist and drummer seem to be having a jam. There is a constant swinging between periods of melodic picking and subtle drumming, even some almost silent short periods, and power chords with harder drumming that slips occasionally into noise. Sometimes the guitarist quietly mumbles. Early on there is a futtfutt sound that you think could be bad mastering of the cd, or perhaps some roto speakers, but as time goes on this magnifies and starts to sound like reverb on the guitar which gets bigger and bigger until the final minutes of the track are more like a fading electrobubbling in which the original instruments are lost and an essence extracted. The overlay of what is an interesting guitar/drum improv with the degrading filter adds an extra layer to this that makes it an intriguing 15 minutes.

Another short improv from Goalkeeper Wanted - Mouthful of Cherries is 15 minutes of drums, guitar, bass and keyboards (as far as I can tell) and the sound is meant to suggest it was 'written and recorded wearing boxing gloves'.  Slow ponderous percussion with a high sustained casiotone vibrato, joined by chiming gong-like guitar. A cymbal solo with guitar, more drums and then some spooky electronics into a spacey ambient section with metallic percussion and shimmerings. Into some slow percussion with arrows of sound before a bass comes in, scrabbling. A slow and thoughtful section and a nice guitar solo, with percussion driving along throughout. A build up towards the end before easing off into a scrabbling slidey fade. A complex and appealing little workout as it rings through its changes.

The only seemingly composed album is Oliver White's The Orient, which is apparently a soundtrack to an unreleased film. It is also a little longer - a bit over 21 minutes. It shifts between concrete sections where short cut-up sounds (or manipulated in these modern ways) bounce around, to sections with sonography, like bird sounds or water, percussive echoed sections and a few snatches of melody. The moods change very quickly - it would actually be nice to have it as a longer album where the different sections had a chance to embed themselves or develop more. But this is what we have and while it is hard to imagine what sort of film it would support, it does provide an evocative electronic atmosphere, shifting almost randomly, but very satisfying. (another what-it-isn't would be a version where there were track breaks where the sound changed, allowing more random shuffling).

OK - these are all short, and anyone thinking of buying them should take that into account - but I have played each a number of times and enjoyed them: can't say fairer than that.