Want Some Spekk?

Namely, Nao Sugimoto’s excellent label, which deals with minimal electronica, nonfigurative improvisation and various kinds of drone-related materials with class and intelligence. Besides these two CDs, grab a copy of the gorgeous An Angel Fell Where The Kestrels Hover by Peter Wright, reviewed here.

DIRAC – Emphasis

Although Austrian trio Dirac (Peter Kutin, Daniel Lercher and Florian Kindlinger) describe their sound as “chamber music of the 21st century”, laptops represent the fundament of the electroacoustic concoction presented in Emphasis. On a superficial approach there is nothing extraordinary in this record, principally constructed upon the rarefaction of the constituents (typical ones: melancholic piano chords, subtle electronics, well-chosen samples and field recordings, uncomplicated melodic fragments). However, give it a more conscientious listen and a few precious drops of beauty will start to appear. Pale luminescence, elusive instrumental touches whose echo lingers on softly, a mood permeated by an introspective kind of looking back that develops into faintly substantial aural matter as soon as certain thoughts are evoked. It becomes, occasionally, a dolefully harmonious type of experience, in the middle of a road linking a far-flung past and the insecurity arising from the intuition of bleak periods to come. Don’t be surprised if mental haze starts materializing during the most soothing segments (the conclusive “A Rest In Tension” my favourite chapter in that sense). Definitely not a groundbreaking release, yet also not completely derivative, a weak body revealing traits that may seduce, and not only for a short adventure. It works very efficiently even at “whispered installation” volume, but you have to be aware of its buried details first.

TETUZI AKIYAMA + TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA – Semi-Impressionism

Acoustic guitar and no-input mixing board, as expected. What I didn’t anticipate was the extreme degree of contemplative plainness which the record would introduce without necessarily hinting to classic EAI (that’s right, we’ve already arrived at the “classic” status for a pretty recent genre). Listening to Semi-Impressionism for the first time in a quietly sunny festive morning, the only sound coming from the outside (as it recurrently happens around here) was that of singing birds, which complemented this delicate conversation quite wonderfully. “Delicate”, yes. Because Nakamura might still be able of surprising with the most unrepentant stabs of feedback, hurtful hiss and warping distortion – it does occur many times indeed – yet all he brings out of that machine makes absolute sense, intersecting with Akiyama’s sparse statements as a perfectly matching component. And, of course, it’s not solely noise. When the ears manage to adjust to the same carrier wave of certain frequencies, sounds that do exist while not being readily available for verbal illustration, one realizes about the veritable miracles that the brain performs when subjected to codes that are theoretically reserved to the (much more evolved) hearing of animals who, I’m sure, can individuate hundreds of additional meanings in what we identify as merely “acute”. It remains to be said of Akiyama’s style in this circumstance, kind of an unclothed blues – a detachedly slow jargon made of single sparkling pitches, two strings plucked together at worst – whose immediate unambiguousness and serene lucidity, in turn revealing instantly measurable profundity, should give a few instructions to the hordes of adorers of, say, Loren Connors, the latter’s supposedly touching – but frequently plain boring – overly bent notes failing to achieve the state of brooding level-headedness reached by the Japanese guitarist in this almost perfect album.

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