Archive for February, 2011
Another promo! What’s going on here? Well, better not to look a gift horse in the mouth. You keep sending ‘em, this here blog will keep reviewing ‘em. This one was particularly welcome as the label was good enough to have an actual vinyl copy sent – and because the label in question is Russell Haswell‘s Touch-affiliated boutique operation, Or.
The Automatics Group is Theo Burt and Peter Worth, from York, UK. Auto 17 presents a series of short tracks, produced by recording the raw output from various patches on a vintage analogue synthesizer (an EMS VCS 3, to be precise). Burt and Worth’s background seems to be in in academic composition and audio art, so they don’t take the approach you’d expect from analogue synth twiddlers (who tend to be stoned indie-rock hipsters). Instead of warm, atmospheric drones, this record delivers short bursts of startlingly alien sound.
The approach is distinctly abstract and formalistic. The pieces make no pretense to representing any particular mood or emotion or even to being music, in any recognizable sense. The results are both alienating and invigorating – bound to make the average listener reconsider his/her limited and platitudinous perceptions of what a vintage synthesizer can/should do.
There’s something about this record that recalls an analogue take on the lab-coated digital madness unleashed by first-generation Mego acts like General Magic and Farmers Manual. In the waveform realm, the nearest comparison would be to a severely time-constrained version of Coil’s experiments in time travel.
You can hear for yourself, by downloading this preview. Or you can watch this video of Theo Burt performing Auto 17-style material live…
Then, once you’re suitable impressed, you can buy the vinyl at Forced Exposure.
This here blog doesn’t often get sent promos. But the Bubblegum Cage III’s world famous 800-page constitution specifically states that: “any promo CDs or records the blog does receive will – and indeed must – get reviewed (sooner or later)”. Which is one reason for this review of the debut album by Viennese avant rockers Nitro Mahalia. The other reason is that said album was released by the good people at Interstellar Records, who were responsible for that phenomenal “A Girl & a Gun” 7″ featuring Christian Fennesz.
The Nitro Mahalia sound will be immediately recognizable to fans of John Zorn’s Naked City and Mike Patton’s Fantomas – aggressive virtuosity applied to the aesthetic of cult movie soundtracks. If this self-titled CD doesn’t quite have the impact of those outfits, that’s probably down to the recording, rather than the band itself. Closing track “Ideas are Bulletproof” was recorded live at Vienna’s legendary Rhiz cafe and shows what Nitro Mahalia is truly capable of.
As you might expect from an album of this sort, it’s a mostly instrumental affair. Nevertheless, some of its highlights do come from a handful of appearances from guest vocalists. The new wavy “Victims” (pronounced “wictims”, of course) is particularly charming. It was worth getting sent the promo for this track alone, even if they did send a CDR, rather than the actual vinyl.
Anyone who wants to get a copy of that is advised to purchase it directly from the Interstellar website.
Track four from volume one. This one is a pretty crappy fan video with the audio taken from a skipping vinyl copy of 69. There’s no official video for this on YouTube but surely one was made, back in the day? Any insight into this would be much appreciated.
Couple of news items from the CSAF recording company. More details on these later but here are the headlines, for the time being:
2. The four-headed laptop beast known as hmbkr will be making its live debut at the Western Front in Vancouver on March 18th. You should add it to your Last FM calendar.
Ascoltare and Nochexxx are aliases of Dave Henson, an electronic music artist based in Cambridge, UK. What differentiates the two projects is not entirely clear. The Ascoltare material was apparently produced mostly with software, whereas the more recent Nochexxx releases are being produced entirely on a hardware-based setup. But you wouldn’t really know it, just by comparing Ascoltare’s superb B E A M album to Nochexxx’s “Ritalin Love” 12″. Both releases advance the same aesthetic agenda, using the same sonic building blocks. Henson’s sound is a curious mix of the tastefully ornate and the immersively grotesque – akin to an unlikely collaboration between Ricardo Villalobos and Nurse with Wound.
Oval is another obvious reference point, particularly for some of the more abstract Ascoltare tracks. On the more recent material, the abstraction is reigned in and the rhythmic element is stronger. Indeed, one recent Nochexxx 12″ actually came out on a particularly notable dance music label – Werk Discs, the super-hip post-dubstep imprint run by Darren Cunningham aka Actress. The record in question – “Smashing Your System”/”Sinbliss” – is doubly impressive as it’s a collaboration with legendary outsider emcee Sensational. Of course, the fact that it’s every bit as bizarre and brilliant as you’d expect is more than just the icing on the cake. Basically, it’s the perfect gateway into the deeply psychedelic world of Ascoltare and Nochexxx. So, what are you waiting for? Go buy it at Forced Exposure.
Track three from volume one. Another Bloody Valentine gift because this here blog still loves you. Recorded live at All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2009.
There seem to be a couple of particularly legendary MBV bootlegs that have circulated on VHS over the years, one recorded at the University of London Union in 1989 and the other recorded in Amsterdam that same year. Not sure if either of these has ever been available on DVD. If so: do want. In the meantime, here are what highlights YouTube yields…
From the ULU bootleg:
“(When You Wake) You’re Still in a Dream”
From the Amsterdam bootleg:
“Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)”
“I Can See it (But I Can’t Feel it)”
There’s definitely more stuff from the Amsterdam recording on YouTube, if you’re prepared to dig around. These three selections were chosen out of a desire to showcase songs the Valentines haven’t been playing on their reunion tours.
Track two from volume one. Not sure if this a fan video or what.
More re-uploads of old mix CDs, although none of these have ever really been available online before. In fact, volume three of the Abstract Audio series never even made it beyond the Bubblegum Cage III’s office stereo. Anyway, the important thing to know about these is that – other than the UK Post-Rock compilations – no mixes could be any closer to this here blog’s heart.
Roughly speaking, Vol. 1 surveys the late 90s/early 00s glitch sound (Oval, Fennesz, Ekkehard Ehlers & Stephan Mathieu etc.). It was originally circulated among friends as a CDR called Audio Classics Vol. 1, in April 2006.
Vol. 2 posits a kind of “post-glitch” scene (Mountains, Tape, Greg Davis etc.), which combined – and continues to combine – granular textures with bucolic acoustic instrumentation, in a fashion that recalls Fennesz and late-period Gastr del Sol. It was originally circulated as a CDR called Unplug, in February 2007.
Vol 3. investigates related sounds in a more immersive and rhythmically-focused context (Rhythm & Sound, Monolake, Gas etc.) This one was originally called Loscil Substitutes, which is the only available excuse for the fact that it doesn’t feature any music by Loscil. It was originally compiled as a lullaby of sorts for an unimpressed sweetheart. Maybe you’ll like it more than she did, dearest reader.
In summary then, we’re talking experimental electronica here, folks. And we love it! Track listings and download links below. Enjoy!!
Abstract Audio Vol. 1
1. Farmers Manual – “Mystery Cellar”
2. Fennesz – “Caecilia”
3. Oval – “Do While (Cut)”
4. Vladislav Delay – “Anima (extract)”
5. Basic Channel – “Mutism”
6. Alva Noto – Untitled (track 6 from Prototypes)
7. General Magic – “Temko”
8. Pita – Untitled (track 3 from Get Out)
9. Ekkehard Ehlers – “Plays Cornelius Cardew 1″
10. Stephan Mathieu – “Für Frans”
11. Stephan Mathieu & Ekkehard Ehlers – “Rose”
12. Fennesz – “Codeine”
13. Farmers Manual – “Final Lap”
Abstract Audio Vol. 2
1. Sébastien Roux – “The Classical Guitar Song”
2. Giuseppe Ielasi – “Plans (extract)”
3. M. Rösner – “Decay”
4. Tsukimono – “Punked Up Fuck Attitude”
5. Tu M’ – “What You Say?”
6. 3/4HadBeenEliminated – “In Every Tree a Heartache”
7. Mountains – “Bay”
8. Tape – “Sand Dunes”
9. Hauschka – “Hauschkamp3″
10. Ogurusu Norihide – Untitled (track 2 from Modern)
11. Greg Davis – “Campestral (Textured)”
12. Chihei Hatakeyama – “Swaying Curtain in the Window”
13. Anders Dahl – “Hundloka (extract)”
14. Lawrence English – “Ghost Towns (extract)”
Abstract Audio Vol. 3
1. Monolake – “Void”
2. Pan•American – “How Much Progress One Makes”
3. Rhythm & Sound – “Distance”
4. The Sight Below – “No Place for Us”
5. Biosphere – “Daphnis 26″
6. Basic Channel – “Quadrant Dub I Edit”
7. Vladislav Delay – “Raamat”
8. Deepchord Presents Echospace – “Celestialis”
9. Porter Ricks – “Biokinetics 2″
10. Gas – “Pop 2″
11. Vainqueur – “Elevation (Version 1)”