Yet Another Odd Couple

IF, BWANA – Clara Nostra

Here’s a stimulating substance for the serious cultists of psyche-affecting drones, just in case it was missed the first time (which would show that they’re not so serious after all). Clara Nostra – originally published in 1999 on Pogus, was entirely prepared with manipulated tapes saturated with clarinets, which were superimposed and bounced in hundreds of ping-ponging tracks until a (demonstrable) total of 106.476 was reached. Astronomical figures aside, this is purely and simply one of the best low-frequency albums ever made. A massive monolith comprising barely traceable movements in mammoth subsonic stasis, which is what distances this music from the “press a single key, feed the Lexicon and go eat something” shallowness of the 98% of today’s releases in this area (yes, I’m getting repetitive, but am not going to stop anytime soon). Put this in your player, set the volume to a decent level and feel the air flooded by quivering liquids, the heartbeat and the breathing rhythms slowing down, the consciousness dilating (…and several loose parts in the room trembling). This thing is also extremely helpful against external noises, therefore you can consider it a means of positive isolation (nothing beats Klaus Wiese’s Space in that sense, though: if plagued by, say, the neighbour’s son’s racket, use that CD in infinite repeat for absolute cerebral ecstasy and utter destruction of any extraneous egotistical behaviour). With this magnificent record, Al Margolis arrived very close to that height. Lots of kudos to Echomusic for bringing it back from the depths of memory, if only in a 99-copy extra-limited edition. (Echomusic)

THE RESPECT SEXTET – Sirius Respect

The Respect Sextet (Eli Asher, James Hirschfeld, Josh Rutner, Red Wierenga, Malcolm Kirby, Matt Clohesy, Ted Poor – hey, they’re seven…) are affirmed professional players working in disparate areas. As a general rule I’m quite averse to tributes, however this one’s good enough to have been listened to four or five times in the last days. Two apparently opposite poles of the musical spectrum, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Sun Ra did indeed share something, especially when peculiar considerations about the cosmos and its infinite relations became a fundamental part of the equation. Still, their music couldn’t be more different, hence a hats off to Respect for having managed to render the chosen selections so well amalgamated in this coherent program. That these men can handle instruments is obvious, yet there’s heart behind the technical refinement: everything is performed with concentrated joy and enthusiastic precision, the arrangements – fairly courteous to the ears – usually tight, occasionally even meticulous. The Ra materials – which include “Jet Flight”, “Angels And Demons At Play” and a gorgeous snippet of “Velvet” – are typically brisker and relatively garrulous, a “shake your booty” attitude always present, with rare exceptions (i.e. certain monotonous solos). The Stockhausen pieces – among them “Leo”, “Pisces” and “Capricorn” – are also characterized by a jazzy vibe that the composer would probably not appreciate, but in this particular context work fine. The exception (which, not accidentally, constitutes my choice moment of the CD) is a magnificent version of “Set Sail For The Sun”, sensible introspection – under the shape of mysterious tones slowly unfolding in restrained tension – finally prevailing upon the overall sense of elegantly zealous divertissement. (Mode Avant)

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