Archive for February, 2010
The Work of Vancouver’s Loscil – aka sometime Destroyer drummer Scott Morgan – is all about incremental development. This applies at the micro level and the macro level. Each individual track pivots around Morgan gradually introducing a series of slow, dreamy loops – mainly chord washes, sub-bass detonations, and percussive clicks…
Morgan’s career as Loscil, meanwhile, has seen him building a cult fan-base across the span of a decade. If you’ve followed the series of albums he’s released on Kranky during this time, you might be forgiven for thinking they all sound pretty much the same. But compare the murky dub-techno of Triple Point to the twinkling bliss-out of Plume and you’ll see that a real musical progression has occurred somewhere along the line.
Endless Falls is the latest Loscil album and the first to be released on vinyl. It takes up where the last two albums (First Narrows and the aforementioned Plume) left off – displaying an increased emphasis on juxtaposing Morgan’s processed loops with live instruments.
The subtle difference here, on tracks like “Lake Orchard”, is an almost neoclassical feel, reminiscent of Max Richter’s work. This similarity is reinforced by an overall melancholy feel and a spoken-word appearance by Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (on “The Making of Grief Point”).
Endless Fall‘s immediately feels like the most ambitious Loscil album to date and it might just be the best. You can – and should – buy it once it gets released on March 1st.
In Stereo is the long-awaited third album from the trio of Christian Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke and Peter “Pita” Rehberg. Like The Magic Sound of Fenn O’Berg (1999) and The Return of Fenn O’Berg (2002), this is an uncompromising work of hardcore digital electronica. However, whereas the trio’s first two albums compiled edited versions of live improvisations, In Stereo was created 100% studio-side.
This fact may suggest that the new album takes a more premeditated approach than its predecessors did but any hints of compositional rigour will not be immediately apparent to the casual listener. Initially, In Stereo sounds like just the kind of three-way laptop cluster-fuck you might expect – high on harsh, glitch-ridden textures and chaotic granular synthesis manoeuvres.
However, after repeated listens, you’ll find the album revealing a genuinely epic sense of drama. The mood throughout is darkly cinematic – murky soundscapes are shot-through with intense digital clarity. Fans of Black to Comm’s superb Alphabet 1968 are bound to find something to enjoy here.
Even at its most patently bonkers, In Stereo never descends into aimless fidgeting. Take “VI”, for instance (the tracks are named with Roman numerals but presented out of sequence). It begins as a barrage of sliced-up digital detritus, which purposefully gives way to a passage of tense contemplation. The results are absolutely phenomenal – attentive listeners may find themselves compelled to stand up and applaud.
In Stereo marks a great start to 2010 for Pita’s Editions Mego label. The vinyl seems to gone out of print before the arrival of its March 5th release date but you should be able to order a copy if you shop around. There will also be a slightly abridged CD version, which you can still pre-order from Mego.
Well, January 15th, apparently! Still it’s quite amazing that some of Vancouver’s finest experimental/electronic music acts, playing at one of the city’s most hospitable venues, managed to escape the attention of this here blog. That, presumably, is what one gets for refusing to join Facebook.
The good news is that connect_icut has been asked to perform at the next Quiet City show, which will take place on March 12th. More details will be posted here as and when they emerge. In the meantime, why not treat yourself to some lovely MP3s?
Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never is another in the long line of vintage synthesizer-wielding cosmic voyagers to have launched skyward from the US avant rock underground in the last few years. The difference is, where most of these acts concentrate on reviving the sound of 1970s space rock, Lopatin focusses on synth music from the early 1980s.
Crucially, his music evokes that moment when digital technology started to enter the mix, brining a more clinical, alienated sound to synth-based music. It’s significant that the current homepage of Oneohtrix Point Never’s website features a prominent image of Roland’s 1982 digital/analogue hybrid synth, the Juno 60. Meanwhile, albums like Zones Without People immediately bring to mind the kind of slick soundtrack music Tangerine Dream were churning out during the ’80s.
Another crucial factor that marks Oneohtrix Point Never music out from the crowd is the fact that it is not fundamentally reliant on extended drones. Instead, Lopatin lets his arpeggiators do most of the work, painting airbrushed landscapes from precise, pointillistic little medlodies. Yes, drones are used – but sparingly, to provide impressionistic strokes of colour.
The most important difference between Lopatin and his peers, though – the thing that makes his work truly worth hearing – is that he is not really interested in mere pastiche. The arpeggios may seem to stretch off into infinity but their continued existence is often called into question by the looming promise of chaos. Essentially, this is new age music with noise attitude – an approach that will be familiar to those of you who remember Coil’s “Red Birds Will Fly Out of the East & Destroy Paris in a Night”.
Zones Without People is part of the suitably conceptual Rifts trilogy – a sci-fi-themed epic that was recently compiled as a double CD on the No Fun label. The three original vinyl LPs seem to be out of print but Mark over at Expressway managed to hook this here blog up with a reasonably-priced copy of Zones, thus enabling all manner of inadvertent astral travelling. Heck the gorgeous “Zones Without People” itself would have been worth the price of admission alone.
Seriously, Lopatin is to be applauded, not only for rescuing a whole era of experimental rock/electronic music from critical neglect but for doing so with real imagination, where others would fall back on irony.
Deadstock was a mid ’90s UK post-rock/electronica combo featuring Ian Hicks aka Baron Mordant of arch hauntologists Mordant Music. Those of you who enjoyed Mordant’s excellent 2009 album SyMptoMs would be well advised to dig up a copy of Deadstock’s one and only LP, from 1996.
Essentially, SyMptoMs expands upon “Fallen Faces” from Mordant’s previous, mostly instrumental album, Dead Air. Like “Fallen Faces”, SyMptoMs prominently features Ian Hicks singing scabrous couplets of Internet-age ennui and anomie. Much of Deadstock prefigures these developments.
The album is divided between instrumental and vocal tracks. Deadstock’s instrumentals haven’t stood the test of time terribly well, bearing many dated hallmarks of the “intelligent techno” featured on those early-’90s Trance Europe Express compilations.
The tracks with vocals are another matter altogether. Songs like “Monophonic Man” and “Nobody” are strongly redolent of Bark Psychosis’s electronically-enhanced swan song, “Blue”. These are infectious urban nocturnes, which powerfully evoke the mood of their time, not just its lesser musical trends.
Deadstock is worth picking up just for highlights such as these. Luckily enough, you should be able to get a cheap copy of the LP via Discogs Marketplace, without too much trouble.
Well, it finally (kinda) happened. After what seems like months of coaxing and cajoling, CSAF Records has (sorta) managed to persuade Papa Sprain to (somewhat) come out of retirement. r3vR3nd R-50n15X5 is a strictly temporary, one-off improv configuration consisting of Cregan Black, Gary McKendry and Richie Reynolds. As far as this here blog knows, that’s the core of the classic Papa Sprain line-up.
“Untitled Live Improvisation…” will definitely appeal to fans of Papa Sprain’s one Peel Session, as well as those of you who were suitably amazed by the band’s stunning Live at The Marquee 91 bootleg. You can download this new track for free from the CSAF website.
A smattering of My Bloody Valentine rarities because you are loved. Now, it’s quite possible that you’re not totally obsessed with MBV and/or aching to hear every last little tidbit the band ever recorded. If so, you are terribly, terribly misguided. But oh you have such a pretty face! You are forgiven.
This is the (superior) Peel Session version of “(When You Wake) You’re Still in a Dream”. Most of the Mp3s of “Colm’s Song” that have circulated online were ripped from tape recordings of the original broadcast. This one was recorded from the BBC iPlayer, during a recent partial re-broadcast of the session.
Like the previously posted “Kevin Song”, this seems to be an unfinished out-take from the Glider sessions. Quite a few hardcore MBV fans actually prefer “Bilinda Song” to “Kevin Song”, though this may be due to Bilinda’s recording sounding rather more “finished” than Kevin’s.
Speaks for itself, really. This is the full ten-minute version of the title track from the Glider EP. “… (Long)” will either send you to nirvana or give you the impression that Kevin Shields did the right thing when he edited this track down to size for the actual release, depending on your mood.
Not to be confused with “Instrumental 2” (aka “instrumental B”) from the Isn’t Anything bonus 7″, this is actually a solo Kevin track, composed for Canadian dance company La La La Human Steps in 1999. Interestingly, it bears a striking resemblance to “Circassian” from Fennesz’s 2004 album Venice.