The ashen beauty of Appunti, the debut solo recording of Marco Marzuoli (one-half of How to Cure Our Soul and curator of Città Sant’Angelo’s lux), off ÉTER in CD form, may sneak up on you in the same way that William Basinski’s Cascade did for me. You’ll be giving it a re-listen at any odd hour past 11:30 PM, and suddenly the quiet breathing of the ostinato melody just floors you, absorbs you, pulls you into its recesses. Marzuoli’s most recent album is in fact the awesome Senza Titolo, from Yann Novak’s always fantastic Dragon’s Eye Recordings, but I absolutely have to backtrack for this one, which came out mid-August.
Appunti is a piece for bass guitar, a loop that was treated through analog and digital means to enfold the melody in a hushed and obscured soundscape. The infinite repetition slowly emerges from the gloom, enveloping the space bit by bit. You become lost in it, and it becomes life itself, the world itself, your body begging for sleep, your head interrogating secrets, its tiny changes the inarticulate mystery of everything.
One of my favorites of the year. Essential listening for sure for any and all devoted to or merely intrigued by drone, ambient music, and other modern composition type-explorations.
On their 12″ split for Hitt Records Ragged Hollow, Columbia, Missouri’s Nevada Greene and Chicago’s Scott Tuma continue to soldier American Primitivism down uncertain roads, crossing paths with modern composition and post-rock soundscaping along the way. The Columbia band’s half, “Earthquake Hollow”, is a leisurely walk in the woods with fingerstyle guitar and fiddle, ending in a serene clearing, the final goodbye chimes in the wind and gentle synth pads. The contribution from Scott Tuma (something of a Chicago legend of independent music by now– check his collaboration with Mike Weis of Zelienople), “All the Ragged Glory”, is heavy, headily-resonating stuff, a nighttime panorama of rusted bridges and abandoned machines. A postcard from an America becoming more and more distant every day– a must-listen for anyone down with the real folk-blues’ legacy.
Conjoining Currents: American Primitivism, Drone, Post-Rock, Lake Mary, Marisa Anderson
Label: Hitt Records
Another beauty that deserves to not slip beneath your radar: Teramo, Italy-based sound artist and musician Lorenzo Balloni’s debut solo recording 創生の最果て [The Farthest Ends of Creation], off Yokohama’s murmur records, who have previously released material from Celer, Francisco López, and Yann Novak, among many other fine folks. What lies herein is a quiet acousmatic journey where the peaks are lost woodland cries, distant rumbles, seeping drones, pattering rain…it is lulling in its sensitivity and slow flow, but an ancient drama emboldens it. Those peaks give a cosmic backdrop to transitory scenes of kids at play, people taking their time, sparrows politely making their presences known. The collage makes a panorama of the impermanence of things– soft colors, clear lines, everything given room to breathe. Born in 94, Balloni is a relatively young guy, but already he has shown himself to be an incredible sound artist. I mean, man. Like Luigi Turra, Fabio Perletta and Haruo Okada, and Novak, he crafts deep-listening spaces of an intimacy and intuitive comfiness– there is a lot to take in, but it is easy to immerse yourself. A jaw-dropping solo compositional debut.
Conjoining Currents: Sound art, Field Recording, EAI, Drone, Luigi Turra, Yann Novak
Label: murmur records
Arsari is 21 year old Iesi, Italy-based producer of electronic music Riccardo Saraceni, and Scavare is his totally promising debut album, a resplendent meshing of noisy pop-ambient and glitchy, pulverized beats. He may at the moment be an absolute beginner, but it’s impossible not to get the sense of an assiduous pair of ears (that took in their fair share of arty, tactile mid-90s electronica/IDM, no doubt) as you pour over the wintry, glitchy vibe of the opener “Semi Di Chia”– melancholic and glittering, melodic and shattered. The pixelated fresco lives up to the album’s name and excavates a funereal, poetic spirit. Where I really found myself hooked was in “E Il Fuoco Si Rifiuta”, where a cautious dubby rhythm collapses into an enveloping, surging wall of sound– power ambient indeed. Scavare is fine stuff, and to see such a young artist with such a strong grasp of a minimal aesthetic makes me incredibly curious about what other offerings are to come…check it out, pronto!
Conjoining Currents: IDM, Glitch, Electronica, Ambient, Noise
Moss Covered Technology is a new moniker of English producer Greg Baird, perhaps better known as BMRN (BoomRuin). Speicherbank is Baird’s second full-length release for Eilean Records, located at the ninth point of the Eilean map. Right off the bat, in the space of the transition from the woozy tape-saturation ambience of “Midsleep” to the cautious first bars of “Story, Story”, you get the sense you’re in for something that will throw back to all your favorite hauntological downtempo electronica/instrumental hip hop albums, with lo-fi textures spiraling into a starry eyed spaciousness. You delve further and see that it took some inspiration from all that, but it ultimately takes the feel into far more abstract zones. For Speicherbank, Baird made use of field-recordings recorded in his home town of Devon, England; these songs are often a lot less beat-driven and more droney than anything, yet still finding that comfy feeling of nostalgia in decay in their crinkled, bleary layers. “Remembered” is a keeper like that, and the use of breathy samples against the dun drones of the gentle closer “Susa” seems to take the best of both worlds. Ultimately, Speicherbank is something more sensitive, more demanding of close re-listenings.
Conjoining Currents: Ambient, Glitch, Downtempo, Drone, Feend
On his debut recording Memorate, Viewfound (musician and sound artist Milo Thesiger-Meacham) crafts oneiric loop-based ambient excursions, invoking forgotten presences and the flood of memory. What is really impressive is to think that a haunter like “Rooms”, with its skin of vinyl hiss and muffled echoing, was devised by someone so young– some of these pieces were recorded by Thesiger-Meacham when he was just 14. A deep-listening meditation with a cinematic feel somewhere between Ingmar Bergman and Leyland James Kirby– most definitely worth your time.
Conjoining Currents: Ambient, Electro-Acoustic, Minimal, Noise, øjeRum
Label: Shimmering Moods
Talc is the duo of Shane McDonell (The Occupant and one-half of Memory Metal) and Bob Desaulniers (sound artist/musician and member of the band Lithics, who kind of sound like Ludus hooked up with The Magic Band). Their debut recording, the Bicameral Mind C15 tape, is all kinds of awesomely mind-manifesting tape sound collage assembled from who the hell knows what to arrive at something both rough-hewn and glowing, beautifully textural noise. In May, they played the first Foreign Accents show with my friends Rust Promoter and Young Hound. That was a special set for sure, and if you couldn’t make that, I hope that you will give this artifact a listen, at least. To be mentally filed next to Maurizio Bianchi, Knurl, The Tenses…and all that jazz…
Conjoining Currents: Noise, Sound collage, Minimal, Maurizio Bianchi, Sindre Bjerga, Alan Bloor, The Tenses
Label: Permanent Green Light
On his second outing as MO~DU, Prague synth-architect Jan Jiskra immerses us fully in science-fantasy visions and pastoral calm. It is all expansive and rippling Berlin school sequencer-based electronic music from here on out, but MOD02, like the first MO~DU album, is all miniatures– no slowly altering long-form meditations to be seen here. The music of MO~DU, with its bright and melodic texture, its cinematic feel, sounds a bit like a collaboration between Klaus Schulze and Brian Eno– an easy-does-it nighttime flyby over a landscape with a dreamy, alien texture.
All the same, this second album is darker and more minimal than the one that came before, with tracks like the foreboding “Procyon B” and “Ras Hammel” giving the sense of being the isolated pieces of a sprawling epic like Blackdance or Rubycon. “Mira Ceti” sounds like dawn on another world. The cackling dolphins add a quizzical aspect of mystery to the serene and sweet “Zaitun”. Most peculiarly of all, MOD02 is dedicated to Joseph Merrick, otherwise known as the unfortunate “Elephant Man”, who nonetheless found peace in his last years. Works for me. Some fine adventures in kosmische sounds right here.
Conjoining Currents: Berlin school, Kosmische, Electronica
Label: Mata-Mata Records
A winter inhospitable in far too many ways is upon us. What better time to immerse ourselves in the dark and psychical sounds of the Pac Northwest underground than now? And the offering we have got before us at the moment, the Con/Tra split tape by Consumer. and The Translucent Spiders might be one of the best introductions to all those goings-on you could ever hope to find — a meal for your head, of deliciously disorienting psychedelic sounds definitely not happened upon carelessly. Con/Tra was mastered by Mike Erwin. It’s also worth a note that The Translucent Spiders’ half of the split features members of the awesome Portland-based noise duo The Social Stomach. The dissection begins now.
The first time I encountered Consumer. was at my friend Kieran’s performance series Meanwhile, Elsewhere…, where, even among all the totally-inspiring stuff that was flying at me all rapid-fire and seemingly-disconnected, one set got burned in my brain. Since then, Consumer. has played many more shows, put out more recorded material, and collaborated with a variety of Portland artists in addition to becoming something of a driving influence in the Portland noise community. But what is Consumer.’s music about? It’s a one-man band of a dirty, hardware-fashioned electronica/rhythmic noise, ricocheting and reeling until you are flabbergasted that it, he, and you are still holding together. Driving the whole engine are his just-as-unhinged, emotive vocals; in his veering from guttural agony to swanky incantations, you can see how, like Damo Suzuki, he surrenders to the absurd to resurrect the “caveman language” of rock and roll. Indeed, you get the sense of an improviser who puts himself out there, no holds barred, no need for pretense here. His half of the split (a mixture of live sets and studio recordings) is going to hook you, no doubt about it– with hammering, splintered romps “Ask Me If I’m a Tree” and “Steppin’ On Glue” abound, you’re practically already under this ruffian’s spell…
The Transulent Spiders are sometimes a band proper, sometimes a one-guy deal (let’s not worry ourselves too much with names, here…), bridging surreal sound collage and psychedelic rock in a volatile mixture. For this crucial document (not too many recordings from the Spiders readily available on the net, so far), core member Nik Fook harnesses squealing free jazz mayhem, alternately cheeky and poetic spoken-word, and an insistent krautrock pulse for something as circus-like and hypnotic as Nurse With Wound’s Live at Bar Maldoror. The conclusion “Take Me off To Space”, with its Gong-esque moribund ecstasy cuts the banquet short, the earth scorched and the craft bearing the willing passenger dwindling ever more in the distance. A real pleasure to look this one over– hoping for a full-length soon! You owe to yourself to give it a listen…
The booming, rolling guitar drones of Gaetano Cappella’s recording debut Maiella, off Spring Break Tapes, have been wound into a composition that, across the two sides of the tape, finds an ecstatic catharsis and sense of wonder. The tape (named after Cappella’s birthplace and home) was initially released with no name given as part of a New Artist Mystery Batch from the label, whereon it quickly sold out. Those who took the plunge to buy blind were no doubt well-sated. Spare, sputtering beats and psychedelic mixing shenanigans send glitchy shockwaves through the raw, cosmic tones to keep things interesting, while field ambience conjures pastoral visions of saudade. Over and over again, the Italian experimental musicians and sound artists are the ones who blow my mind with the ancient feelings their works evoke. You can only hope that we hear more from Gaetano Cappella again soon.
Conjoining Currents: Ambient, Drone, Noise
Label: Spring Break Tapes