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.

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