Archive for July, 2010

Harvey Pekar R.I.P.

Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar


July 12, 2010 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Simon Scott – Navigare (Miasmah) LP

Simon Scott - Navigare

Simon Scott - Navigare

The tasty abstract painting that adorns the cover of this LP gives a pretty good indication of the album lurking within – two sides of sumptuous post-Fennsz/Tim Hecker ambiance. Simon Scott was the original drummer with dream-pop legends Slowdive and it wouldn’t be too fanciful to imagine tracks like “The ACC” as representing Slowdive’s sonic cathedral stripped of its pop/rock foundation.

You might occasionally wish that Scott didn’t insist on constantly obfuscating the simple harmonic loveliness of his music with a gauzy cloak of reverb. But – for the most part – you’ll be too busy enjoying the effects to look that closely at the list of active ingredients. Fill your prescription for this supreme sonic sedative at Forced Exposure.

July 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

The Advisory Cirle – Mind How You Go [Revised Edition] (Ghost Box) LP

The Advisory Circle - Mind How You Go

The Advisory Circle - Mind How You Go

It always seemed incongruous that Ghost Box – a label which pretty-much defined the retro-futuristic genre known as hauntology –  only made its releases available in digital formats. This apparent chink in the imprint’s otherwise robust aesthetic armour probably resulted from any number of practical and financial considerations. Until recently, Ghost Box didn’t seem to have much of an audience beyond a hardcore of intellectual music bloggers and ageing ravers – so, going to the trouble and expense of pressing vinyl records probably seemed downright foolhardy.

But with the recent hype surrounding hauntology’s autistic American cousin – hypnagogic pop – it has started to seem like Ghost Box’s time might have come. Certainly, people beyond hauntology’s core audience finally seem to be catching onto the genre’s damaged utopianism. And so, we finally get the label’s first ever vinyl release – a revised edition of its sixth CD release.

Like most Ghost Box releases, Mind How You Go was/is a collection of melodic instrumental electronica, primarily influenced by the library music and public information films of 1970s Britain. It contains elements of both Belbury Poly’s jaunty synth stylings and The Focus Group’s sample-based experimentalism – indeed both of these core Ghost Box acts contribute remixes to the Revised Edition. The main distinguishing feature here is a stronger-than-usual tinge of krautrock, with Neu! and Kraftwerk influences clearly audible.

Those who have come to love the Ghost Box sound and shtick will definitely cherish this release, particularly as it contains what may be the label’s high-point to date – Belbury Poly’s total renaissance fair re-imagining of “And the Cuckoo Comes”. In any case, a must have for Ghost Box-loving vinyl snobs. You can buy it directly from the label.

July 9, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol. 2 (Ratser Noton) 2LP

Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol. 2

Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol. 2

In his capacity as a successful multidisciplinary artist and digital electronica producer, Carsten Nicolai – aka Alva Noto, among other things – puts out a lot of stuff. Even the most dedicated followers of his work could be forgiven for finding themselves playing catch-up, from time to time.

Living in an age when months, even years can pass between an album’s CD release and its appearance on vinyl adds an extra layer of confusion for the record snobs among Nicolai’s fan base. Anyway, Bubblegum Cage III can state, without fear of contradiction, that the second volume of Alva Noto’s Xerrox series has been issued on vinyl, at some point between the album’s 2009 CD release and now.

The Xerrox project seems like Nicolai’s reaction to William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops series, where mildewed tape loops were digitally archived and – in the process – destroyed. But whereas Basinski simply allowed his loops to auto-destruct, Nicolai works exclusively in the digital realm, contriving ways to distress and disgrace a selection of pristine musical samples.

And what samples! It says something of Nicolai’s status in the art and music worlds that he is able to openly thank Michael Nyman, Ryuichi Sakamoto (a regular Alva Noto collaborator) and SunnO)))’s Stephen O’Malley for providing some of the sampled  source material on this album.

As with Vol. 1, the sounds used on here are considerably lusher and more immersive than one would expect, based on the arid, pointillistic sound of classic Alva Noto albums such as Prototypes. Tracks like “Xerrox Monophaser Two” wantonly spray gorgeous orchestral chords with a scurf of digital distortion. This is an ingeniously simple formula and one that produces an album of truly poignant beauty.

And – as previously stated – it’s an album that is available on vinyl, though goodness knows how long it’ll actually stay in print. Buy it at Forced Exposure, while you can.

July 6, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Sylvain Chauveau – Singular Forms [Sometimes Repeated] (Type) 12″/LP

Sylvain Chauveau - Singular Forms

Sylvain Chauveau - Singular Forms

Sylvain Chauveau certainly is an eclectic fellow. Maybe this kind of thing is perfectly normal in France but – in the mind of an anglophone – a career spanning orchestral minimalism, austere digital electronica and Depeche Mode covers seems impressively diverse.

This blue-vinyl LP (well, it plays at 45RPM and lasts about 30 minutes but Type is marketing it as a full-length album) encompasses a number of Chauveau’s musical interests. It’s a collection of art song, set to stark, piano-led arrangements and disrupted by a storm-front of computerized chaos.

On dropping the needle, the comparison that immediately springs to mind is David Sylvian’s recent work. Actually, the similarity is a little too close for comfort. You half expect to glance back at the cover and realise that the artist’s name is, in fact, David Sylvian Chauveau. Ahem.

The EP has other faults. The pared-back arrangements occasionally leave Chauveau’s ever-so-slightly ESL lyrics a little exposed. Also, it could be argued that coloured vinyl wasn’t the wisest choice – quality-wise – for a record that relies so heavily on clear, ringing sounds and passages of near silence.

None of this seems to matter, though, when Singular Forms really starts to hit home. The songs are absolutely beautiful, the arrangements subtly dissonant and the electronics absolutely glitch-perfect. The overall effect is vividly dreamlike – an effect perfectly captured by the startling video  for “The Unbroken Line”.

So, in spite of its faults, this is a more-than worthwhile release. It’s one of the bravest and most brilliant records of the year so far. You can listen to the whole thing at Soundcloud then buy it at Forced Exposure.

July 2, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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