Cubbyholes And Substructures

Rescued remnants from an ever-crowded desk, some of them good enough for more careful investigation.

FEDERICO BARABINO – Celula

An improvising guitarist from Argentina, three tracks for a total of 37 minutes circa. A diminutive self-production without excessive affectation on Noseso, whose level of audio quality tends to the lowest side of the lo-fi. Two pieces are simple improvisations on the “guitarra electrica limpia” (=clean electric guitar, tone verging on the jazzy), the longest one sees Barabino surrounding (and responding to) the voice of Kenji Siratori reciting snippets of Japanese phrases. Let’s face it: nothing made me cry miracle, yet this is not a thoroughly bad album. There’s an underlying candor that makes us forgive the unnecessary length and a few clamorous bloopers present in the solos, and some parts of the “guitar v Japanese” duo are almost hilarious. Could be of interest for those who appreciates the likes of Manuel Mota in their no-frills, axe-depicted nudity. Several moments of near-silence do help in digesting the whole much better. Best results at medium-to-low volume via speakers.

MICHAEL RODGERS – Curtained Moon

Unclothed collection of extremely rudimentary pieces for guitar and environmental recordings, presumably realized at Rodgers’ home judging by the cover’s photos. Not completely instrumental: the protagonist adds its “falsetto-lament” vocal accompaniment at times. There’s an underlying autistic quality that does not reveal much: neither experimental nor hypnotically absorbing, this stuff sounds “thrown away” in technical poverty: set the tape recorder – begin to play – what happens, happens, warts and all – limited edition, sell them to the remained ones who are still appreciative. My gut feeling is that the world is inexorably becoming chock full of “personal diaries” like this, and truth be told I never cared a iota about peeping at other people’s intimacy. With all due respect for Michael, whose best work has to be found elsewhere (ever heard of We’re Breaking Up? Start from there), this is a perfect example of material that should not be published because it’s not actual music, just a private rumination – under the guise of ineffectual noodling – in which this grumbling reviewer see no point of interest. Those who think they might can try and get a copy here.

SANTIAGO LATORRE – Órbita

On Accretions comes the debut CD of multi-instrumentalist composer Latorre, from Barcelona. The first piece – “Canon” – is gorgeous, a superimposition of reeds reminiscent of Urban Sax; this piece deserves accolades. Unfortunately the rest of the disc is not always on the same level, alternating deeper intuitions with excessively trouble-free materials whose melodic content is nearer to easy listening that avant-garde. As the man is specialized in writing music for different kinds of artistic expression – theatre, dance, fashion and video-art – the inhomogeneous typology of record must be probably attributed to this reason. There’s excessive inequality from a track to the other in terms of profundity and sonic intrigue to consider this a proper concept; it’s more like a collection of demos, very well recorded yet containing too many useless segments. Perhaps Latorre does possess talent, but he should choose only the cream of his production and apply a few layers of consistency next time.

JEPH JERMAN / AMK – Split

Another episode in the split series of John Gore’s Cohort Records, which always presents music that grabs the attention: stationary dronage, atmospheric electronica and low-priced paradises all belong to this collection of CDRs. Jeph Jerman’s “30 Minutes For Joe Jones” is a nerve-soothing study for resonant gong (“played by a small fan and amplified with cheap mic and battery powered amp”), an immobile ocean of wavering metal halfway through Organum and Klaus Wiese, particularly pleasant to the ears which get drenched with a constant sense of slow expansion and contraption akin to breathing. At the beginning of AMK’s half we find ourselves catapulted at the antipodes of the tranquility’s spectrum, two minutes exploring the most absurdist facets of sampladelia and cut’n’paste; then it’s sudden silence, only to be back with hypnotic looping and locked grooves, in a new attempt to transform the deplorable aspects of aural tightfistedness into sonic landscapes comparable to a haunted forest inhabited by drunken spirits; I’ll leave the discovering of the finale to yourselves (“warp” is the keyword, though). Overall, the disc is extremely captivating, definitely an option for some fresh air in your routine listening sessions.

XABIER ERKIZIA – [Spam Detect]

At once fascinated and annoyed by the phenomenon of spam, Erkizia put himself in the condition of creating a work which he calls an “exercise of translation of those messages received daily, ads and lies converted into sound. Spam music, ultimately”. If only all those thousands of links to theoretical expansions of our sexual organs and to virtual Viagra and Cialis sellers sounded so good, I’d be infecting my computer with plenty of viruses on a hourly basis. Revealing a well-exercised discipline in the control of the noise/silence ratio, the Basque composer has generated 31 minutes (a perfect length for a project such as this) of frequencies that affect the brain perceptibly, especially when delivered by a set of headphones (careful with volume, though – the large part of these insects stings as hell). Music that appears authoritative, counterfeit, polychromatic in its starkness, sumptuously obnoxious. Sometimes it make us feel as the junction through which hundreds of interferences transit, destined to attack one’s quietness or, at the very least, upset our steadiness psychosomatically. Transmissions of distressing memos that have no other meaning or intention than being a pain in the ass, which – from a sonic point of view – is just great. An intelligently planned piece of work, released by Hamaika, showing that even what’s hypothetically exasperating can be turned into thought-provoking art.

WUMMIN – Limbic

Precisely twelve months ago – June 2008 – exquisite cellist/vocalist Anita Chari and violinist Andrew Royal were so kind-hearted to send me this CDR of unusual-sounding, enticing pieces halfway through intermittent absurdity and chamber-esque fanaticism, taped over the course of a Californian tour in the March of the same year which they sell, together with the rest of their production, during extensive expeditions across the US. How can this aging man be forgiven for such a long delay? Old song, old lyrics, I know. Well, take a listen to what this couple does (checking this MySpace page for starters) because they’re seriously entertaining, as strange and somewhat disconnected these improvisations might appear. Both students of renowned music schools (that means “indisputable instrumental preparation”) and influenced by a whole plethora of suggestions, with evident preference for bizarre operatic vocalism, strident eastern accents and microtonal extravagance, this Chicago-based duo meshes erratic melodrama and improvisational earnestness while caring less than zero to the recording quality (most of these tracks are probably dubbed from cassettes, bumps and everything). There’s something here and there that sounds fairly disorientating in Limbic, yet sure as hell Wummin (pronounced “woman”, by the way) act like no one else I heard recently, an improbable pair of daydreamers who repeatedly attempt u-turns in a congested street. Not always achieving the aim (what aim?) but definitely with a lot of non-exactly-ordinary things occurring in the process.

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