The Distressed Retriever

Helplessly trying to settle matters – within the borders of 150-200 words – with LOTS of records released one year ago or more (or less…) still waiting on that damn messed up desk. The fact that many of those are contained by extra thin sleeves – which tend to disappear amidst consistent batches of CDs – definitely doesn’t help.


Trumpeter Franz Hautzinger’s Rain Orchestra – named after the “soggy London weather” characterizing their first gig – punches hard in between jarring suspensions. Forget hissing, plopping and tonguing, prepare yourselves instead to listen to a suite that fuses adrenaline and lysergic spirits in equal doses. Obviously there is a hint to the “electric Miles” era in the liners, yet that comparison misses the point a little bit. The music – played by Christian Fennesz, Otomo Yoshihide, Luc Ex and Tony Buck besides the leader – owns a fairly distinctive personality, characterized by malignant stabs to consonance masked with heavy riffs and inharmonious itineraries in the zones where the fumes of burned vinyl and the obliqueness of dislodged arpeggios place the whole lot in a grey area halfway through the toughest Paul Schütze remembered by this writer (perhaps circa Shiva Recoil) and Jon Hassell wearing a Motorhead leather jacket. I hadn’t realized that Fennesz and Otomo were so fond of uncooked overdriven guitars before. (Red Note)

JC JONES – Hosting Myself

A solid album of solo double bass by Jones, the moaning and growling fundament behind Jerusalem’s Kadima Collective. The instant compositions are aptly described by their creator as “focused on energy and the moment”, and indeed there is often an almost theatrical quality underlying the (mostly short) improvisations presented here. Every single component of the instrument is exploited, warranting a vast range of sonorities; the whole works much better by listening without headphones, as the contribution of the contiguous spaces to the (in)natural reverberation of all those groans, purrs, knocks, scrapes and clickety-clacks is essential. Jones is not averse to sound processing – on the contrary, he relies on it pretty heavily, a Lexicon delay (and possibly other pedals) at the basis of further alterations of the palette. His great merit resides in the fact that an idea is never worn out or excessively scrutinized, the vibrant trait of the resulting music constituting a crucial element of its success, our interest rewarded for several consecutive spins.

IVOR KALLIN / JOHN BISSET – A Schlep From Strathbungo

This is quite an oddity, particularly lovely in spite of my absolute inability to classify such a kind of impromptu staging. Walking through several locations in Glasgow (including the Hampden Park stadium while an important game is being played), local native Kallin recites verses, snippets of phrases, peculiar syllables and other scarcely intelligible fragments (at least for someone struggling to get to grips with Scottish) of human expression accompanied by the now acerbic, now complimentary acoustic guitar of Bisset. Occasionally the tracks might recall a folk version of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate with six-stringed counterpoint. There are numerous passages worthy of more than a distracted listen, especially when the couple wanders around tranquil oases of peace like Kelvingrove Park, sweetly whistling blackbirds underlining the on-the-spot swapping of ideas between the artists. The final part of the CD is a studio session where things sound (and, according to the liners, are) slightly planned – Bisset embracing an electric to furnish the music with a degree of bluesy touch – yet the sparkle and the artlessness of the city recordings remain unsurpassed. Very nice indeed. (2:13)

R MILLIS – 120

Robert Millis is a Climax Golden Twin (honest: I’ve been reading this name around a lot without knowing, to date, what the project deals with) and, especially, a collector of 78 rpm records and seeker of intercontinental snippets of real life, both for his own pleasure and use in albums by Sublime Frequencies (another label I’ll be happy to deepen my knowledge of as soon as someone invents the 48-hour day). 120 – originally released in a very limited edition – is a well conceived combination of extensive, looping-and-morphing flashes of beyond-earthly-existence awareness balancing otherwise pretty much vivacious, occasionally sybilline intermissions by fragments from ancient eras, presumably deriving from the above mentioned early discs. Though the concepts presented by Millis are not desperately innovative (and, sincerely, that “lonesome cowboy” strummed-guitar finale could have been left out), the sheer loveliness of those rust-coloured aural folktales and the impressive, almost supernatural standstills that he generates through superimpositions of processed instruments – guitar, bells and glass harmonica – are quintessential listening for anyone willing to experience some veritable moment of transcendence amidst the rotations of a time capsule, the wholeness of which is spiced by appreciably unpretentious field recordings. (Etude)

ADAM PACIONE – With Wakened Eyes

The original concept behind this 75-minute collection dates back to 2003, Pacione having been able to rescue earlier tracks that he believed lost in a hard disk crash. Taken as a whole (and in this case the “repeat” mode is mandatory) the six pieces amount to a hymn to the disaggregation of a human being’s will. My wife and I sat transfixed on the living room’s couch in a terribly cold, grievously grey morning while these stretched suspensions of mental activity went on and on, at times with a few barely hinted tonal connotations but, for our good luck, more often gifted with a kind of harmonic richness according to which concepts like “major” or “minor” (in relation to a potential key) become only stupid, uninteresting details, just as understanding what the sources for these longing uncertainties are. Vacillating clusters evoking an ashen face intent in praying, extensive perturbations of a peacefulness that remains endangered despite the entrancement. “Night So Deep” and “Night So Bright” are extraordinarily beautiful chapters, definitely among the best static electronica heard in years. Quite simply a must-have, and not exclusively for ambient aficionados: this man composes music with scarce instrumental elements and abundance of poignant substances acting as a magic potion for their ideal development. Huge mea culpa for not arriving to this record before. Glorious stuff. (Bee Eater)

OFF THE SKY – Creek Caught Fire

Jason Corder/Off The Sky’s Creek Caught Fire (the logical prosecution of a previous EP called Creek Studies on Term, sublabel of 12k) revolves around “extracting subjective/objective inspiration and creative abstraction from vast natural space, but specifically that of the Appalachian (red river) area”. The liners then continue to illustrate a series of applications and processes related to the generation of this CD that I’m not really able to thoroughly understand. The music is very intriguing, intelligently paced and ultimately rewarding, a brand of tranquil electronica characterized by semi-biotic sub-movements, tremendously lovely timbres that are probably generated and/or modified by a laptop yet possess innate qualities that result utterly compatible with my personal evening’s mood (which is always a good thing). Samples of acoustic instruments enrich the palette of this silently affecting record, whose unstable dynamics – fused with a subdued muteness emerging as the primary colour in a general visionary efficiency – make sure that coldness and scientific posturing are not parts of the experience. Just another small, precious gem from this nearly invisible, legitimately significant label. (The Land Of)

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