Uneven Trio, Depending On Your Disposition

ALAN LICHT & LOREN CONNORS – Into The Night Sky

There’s this strange sensation with Loren Connors, which materializes intermittently inside my soul. In fact I’m not a fan, by no means thinking of him as a great guitarist; also, the way in which he articulates that unique variety of semi-atonal, reference-less blues never touched me profoundly as it seemingly happens to many people, at least reading the scores of rave reviews. Yet the curiosity of listening to another recording which includes TAFKAM (The Artist Formerly Known As MazzaCane) often returns because, somehow, I wish to be convinced of the man’s prominence. Into The Night Sky – the second duet with Alan Licht after 2003’s In France – features elements that confirm this balance of moderate admiration and obstinate non-believing. At times the first chapter “Map Of Dusk” recalls two high school classmates locked in a room and meowing around with inexpensive Strat imitations and a few even cheaper pedals. Uninteresting strumming and indecisive meanderings mostly directed to nowhere, except for a small number of airier sections where ampler spaces between the notes help our concentration to build a little muscle. The title track is decidedly better, introducing acceptable levels of dissonance, a whiff of jangling alternativeness and mild experimentation based upon noisy manipulation and stringed indistinctness, a modicum of melodic construction leading us through the deeper levels of elusiveness. Unequivocally preferable to the preceding half, which sincerely sounds as below par material when compared with the latter. (Family Vineyard)

SIMON WHETHAM – Understory

Published last year, this is a good album of field recordings made by Whetham during a 2-week artist residency led by Francisco López in 2007 in the Amazon rainforest region in Brazil, called Mamori Sound Project. It’s not a radical statement but does contain a few attention-grabbing sections, particularly in the second half in which the voices from the forest and other local presences are modified, looped, collated and manipulated in compositional fashion to elicit fascinating specimens of nebulous sonority which encourage our speechlessness. At the beginning, the original sources are deployed consecutively over the course of brief snapshots: airplanes, insects, wonderfully singing birds, wind, rain, you know the score. One is convinced of being in front of the umpteenth chapter of “uselessly beautiful” environment-based outing. As the time goes, though, the action becomes more interesting, a worryingly still atmosphere prevailing with sporadic unexpected events waking us up from a state of inertia. When the CD has ended a sense of completion has thoroughly defeated the “been there, done that” initial reaction. (Trente Oiseaux)

TERRY FOX – The Labyrinth Scored For 11 Different Cats

After reading about the “orchestration” and having never heard the piece (original date: 1977), I instantly begged good old Ed Benndorf at Dense Distribution to send a copy of this, given that cats are one of the (not many) proofs of intelligence present on the planet. Dozens of these amazing creatures walk around and over me every day, reminding that their silences reveal more than a million human words. The late Terry Fox got this idea when the cat of a friend started to regularly stretch on his lap whenever he went to see him, associating the typical droning emission of the feline with mathematic formulas linked with the circular labyrinth of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Chartres which he had visited in 1972, remaining fascinated in the process. Well, for what my opinion is still worth, this is just a 70-minute curiosity verging on the utterly boring, a record that might keep you company for a while, but that’s all. No artistic relevance whatsoever, no illumination or bliss in sight. The purring is obviously lovely to listen to, even if there are sections in which its magnification recalls a snoring drunkard rather than a cute, chubby, warm hairy ball grabbing the flesh of your thighs with nails (several of our little monsters do that when they’re oh-so-happy of being caressed). A disappointment indeed. Better go down to the kitchen, pour some milk and rip a pack of Whiskas open… I already hear them calling. Gremlins, perhaps? (Choose)

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