Poll: 2.46/12
(49 votes)

Albums Alan Licht - YMCA (Family Vineyard) website

fv63_big.jpgThese days, it seems as though Alan Licht is as recognized as a writer about music as he is a performer of it. The New Yorker’s discography has been a tad scant of late, with 2003’s A New York Minute his last major solo statement, though, to be fair, the last six years have been peppered with collaborative guitar albums with such heavies as Nels Cline, Oren Ambarchi, and Loren Connors. Still, YMCA is a welcome arrival. Combining two live performances in 2004, the album may not offer the perfect look at Licht’s contemporary work, but given his relatively meager solo output, any release, even if it’s a few years late, is worthy of note.

YMCA is meant to be heard as a triptych, a product of Licht’s enthusiasm with the then-contemporary work of Oren Ambarchi and Tetuzi Akiyama. The halving of the vinyl-only release into two sides foils its three-part structure a tad, but the record’s evolution is hardly less effective. Ambarchi’s influence lords heavily over YMCA’s first section, a series of tones that fade in and out, like dolphins just visible as they crest the surface of the sea. The intermingling tones become more numerous, crowding each other slightly, though things never quite reach the expected intensity, and the meditative feel with which the piece begins falters, but isn’t squelched. The gentle notes that creep out from underneath these tones do so with a delicate restrain. Licht picks a simple melody that patiently repeats until the remnants of the record’s first section have finally faded away, and by the time side A comes to a close, only minute changes have been made.

Soon after the album’s second side begins, the tones that populated its beginning resurface underneath Licht’s meditative melody. The swooping sounds, more active than in their first incarnation, gently build, encrusted with the detritus of a manipulated delay effect. These “imperfections” slowly become more prevalent, building into a flurry of distorted bluster. Now with jagged edges and prickly tails, the once tranquil tones swirl in a soup of damaged beauty. Looped and laden in all manner of effects, Licht’s guitar speaks in tongues in a multifarious and mangled oratory. The intensity level isn’t consistently high, but when Licht lets rip, the leap in level is enough to startle the unwary listener.

As Licht lets things fade to a more subdued level after YMCA’s brief climax, the wispy trails flying by like ghosts. Light brings thing full circle before the guitar fades away and the audience’s cheers bring side B to a close. The conclusion of the record is what one might expect, and, in general there’s a predictable progression to the whole album. Still, as a document that might’ve been lost in the dissolution of Idea back in 2007, YMCA’s reemergence on Family Vineyard is a welcome one. Though this might not be Licht’s most singular effort, it’s nice to see an addition to the guitarist’s solo catalog, which is, one hopes, a portent of further solo productivity.

adam strohm at 12:23 PM May 30, 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll: 13.75/12
(9 votes)

Albums Cheer-Accident - Fear Draws Misfortune (Cuneiform) website

feardrawsmisfortunesm.jpg Their records have had many homes in the more than fifteen years that Cheer-Accident have been releasing music, but it seems as though, with Cuneiform, the band has finally found a great fit. Chicago neighbors Skin Graft, with whom the band worked on a trio of albums from 2000-2003, seemed, by all accounts a beneficial match, but given the band's aesthetic, the venerable Cuneiform has the potential to raise Cheer-Accident's profile with prog fans all over the world. Fans of some of the labels more rigorously technical groups might be disappointed, though, as Cheer-Accident don't fit the prog mold (or any mold, for that matter) very well; they're just as likely to break into a gentle pop melody as they are off-kilter rhythms. Theirs is a confounding formula that's unpredictable enough to fluster all but the most patient of listeners, combining a broad songwriting palette with a taste for experiments, humor, games, and anything else that might catch their compositional fancy.

Fear Draws Misfortune, despite (or maybe because of) its appearance on Cuneiform, features a more even-tempered Cheer-Accident. The album's not the all out pop of The Why Album, but its twists and turns tend to take forms that shouldn't fluster the seasoned Cuneiform listener too seriously. The proggiest of the disc's selections, "The Carnal, Garish City" moves quickly (and not altogether linearly, of course) through several sections, none of which are particularly easy to digest, ending with vocals that quack as much as sing the song to its denouement. Thymme Jones, the group's ringleader, principal songwriter, and drummer, lends his sonorous voice to much of the album, though additional vocalists are plentiful, often in the form of a unison choir of sorts, something a bit heavenly above what can be a choppy, churning musical terrain below. Anyone who's seen the band live recently knows that that membership in Cheer-Accident these days seems a bit fluid, and, on Fear Draws Misfortune, it shows: the core line-up of Jones, guitarist Jeff Libersher, and bassist Alex Perkolup is frequently augmented by any number of contributors, such as violinist Julie Pomerau, trombonist Mike Hagedorn, and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello. At times, Jones performs alone, or with minimal accompaniment; on other tracks, the band reaches sizes as large as eight. All this variance is just another sign, perhaps, of how anything goes in the Cheer-Accident world.

For all the group's open-minded penchant for peculiarity, however, this latest effort is performed largely with a straight face. The disc may not reflect the darkness suggested by its title (some goofiness still pops up here and there), but the majority of Fear Draws Misfortune is simply and solidly executed. Whether brimming with capricious energy or unclouded, insistent emotion (or, most likely, more than a bit of both), Cheer-Accident perform with aplomb. "Your Weak Heart," which closes the album, encapsulates this beautifully, moving from a plaintive solo performance by Jones into an increasingly tense crescendo that finally bursts into a vintage prog jam, and back again to Jones, singing along to only his piano. It's a great blend of some of the disc's most earnest pathos with some of its most agile rock, and a great way to close what is hopefully the beginning of a bountiful new pairing of a band and a record label.

adam strohm at 01:01 PM March 27, 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(2 votes)

Albums R Millis - 120 (Etude Records) website

captureport.gif Robert Millis, he of Climax Golden Twins fame, is a man, for all his musical activity, with very few solo records to his credit. So, when Millis finally issued a new one, it's fitting that the disc seems to integrate every side of the Seattle resident's musical efforts, from old Victrola 78s to field recordings from around the world to tonal sound sculpture. But it's not simply the eclecticism of this disc that's interesting; its appeal lies equally in its transitions, the ways that Millis moves between disparate (and at times, not so disparate) sound sources over the course of the disc's forty-five minutes. 120, one might suppose, is like a trip through Millis' brain, touching on musical memories (including the Climax Golden Twins aesthetic), the sounds coming through an open window, his own compositions, and the shimmering ambience that fills the spaces in between.

The combination of conversational snippets, the sounds of falling rain, acoustic guitar, and a beautifully layered drone could quickly grow tiresome if handled in a way that magnified the oddity of the amalgamation, but rather than try to capitalize on the zaniness of an unpredictable sonic menagerie, Millis takes a more meditative approach. There's a degree of a stream-of-consciousness vibe to 120, but the album feels, for the most part, quite purposeful. Each track on the disc, from the six-minute "(Charcoal Twins)" to the twenty-minute "(All Balled Up)," finds Millis crafting his creations with care, meshing the sounds in such a way that, unexpected or not, transitions feel natural, and rather than some eccentric mash-up, 120 takes on a more poetic feel.

This album is, in a sense, despite its inclusion of some unquestionably non-Western sounds, quintessentially American music, or at least the music of what America dreams herself to be: at times beautifully pastoral, at others hectic, even chaotic, 120 is, at its heart, a music of coming together. The old melting pot metaphor is as questionable here as it is in the case of the U.S.A., for these voices, like those of millions of immigrants, aren't lost within the sound of a greater whole. Instead, they're valuable in their own right, each distinct in its timbre, a vista on an alluring musical voyage that, despite the shifts in scenery, follows a deceptively straight, and impressively constructed, route.

adam strohm at 10:30 AM March 19, 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll: 12.15/12
(19 votes)

Albums Emeralds - What Happened (No Fun Productions) website

review_id-4822.jpg Emeralds' name has been on the tongues of bloggers and noise addicts in the know for quite a while now, but, of late, they seem to have encroached on the consciousnesses of a far wider audience. Solar Bridge made plenty of year-end lists in 2008, and rightly so; it was perhaps the first major statement from the group, whose work until then was largely in the form of limited run cassettes or cd-r's. The title of the trio's follow up, What Happened, might be viewed as their reaction to their recent success, as just over a year ago they were still awaiting the release of their "proper" debut, and now find themselves opening for Throbbing Gristle. It's a rapid ascent, to be sure, but if their latest disc is any indication, not an wholly undeserved one, no matter their ages or the hype that buoyed Emeralds' growth.

The presence of synthesizers in Emeralds' music has always been a conspicuous one, but "Alive in the Sea of Information" owes far more to 70s synth fetishists like Tangerine Dream than many of the groups with whom Emeralds typically cavort. Other acts in the noise/experimental underground have adopted analog synths as instruments of choice, of course, but few use them in such a way. Emeralds music isn't exactly retro, but its sound is sometimes of a spectral, other-worldy timbre that, while often too roughly hewn to be called new age, certainly makes heavy use of the spacey psychedelia that marked the early forays of the genre. What Happened packs, perhaps, a bit less of a punch that its predecessor in terms of the overall heft of the sound, but its two opening tracks, the aforementioned "Alice in the Sea of Information" and "Damaged Kids" make for some enjoyable and interesting synth-based mind melting. The rest of the disc's five tracks engage in a simpler means of expression, more heavily reliant on drones and repetition, with fewer flourishes bubbling unexpectedly into the mix. The album takes on a more somber tone, save for a formidably menacing latter half of "Living Room," with the trio moving from the colorful palette of the openers to the grays and blues of the rest of the disc. Emeralds invoke an effective pathos, but by the time the slow swirl of "Disappearing Ink" has come to its close, the earlier spirit of the album is only a memory. The tonal dichotomy isn't severe, but a return to the bright environs of the opening pair of tracks might have lightened the mood toward the disc's conclusion, spreading out the album's best material rather than packing it at the beginning of its duration.

What Happened isn't a jaw-dropper from start to finish, but it is a well-rounded musical statement, a cohesive series of improvisations that, whether moving in a more linear fashion or spiraling into unpredictable musical environs, the trio tackle with an impressive focus. A number of releases loom in Emeralds' near-future, and if this disc, especially its openers, are a sign of things to come, it's going to be a good year for these lads from Cleveland.

adam strohm at 04:22 PM March 12, 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(3 votes)

Albums Carlos Giffoni - Adult Life (No Fun) website

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When he embraced the analog synthesizer on 2007's Arrogance Carlos Giffoni's music took a turn. The man whose previous efforts often featured harsh digital onslaughts, laptop-driven efforts to shatter and shear the ears has found himself slave to warm analog tones and far less aggressive composition. Adult Life is perhaps his most temperate release yet, fifty minutes of slow burn synthesizer that's surprisingly easy to swallow. Giffoni hasn't gone soft: he still isn't averse to heavy doses of distortion and jagged edges, but, in terms of composition, the album is strikingly straightforward. There are few sudden turns or unforeseen drops; instead, Giffoni often opts for a simmer, letting his ingredients mingle slowly rather than tossing them in all at once. He's not forsaken the noise, but Giffoni's taken a nod to something old to create his new sound.

There's a definite hearkening back to the days of early synthesized electronic music within Adult Life, where the mix remains relatively sparse, and the listener is provided with plenty of time to digest timbre and tone with no fear of whiplash. In these exhibitions of sound, any change in trajectory is signaled well in advance, with new synth voicings fading in and out methodically like an exaggerated Doppler effect, and fans of Giffoni's older work might need Ritalin to stay focused on this disc. Adult Life is far from a snooze though, with its warm analog sound almost tactile in its texture. The cover and disc art seem to imply that Giffoni doesn't want us to stop to smell the flowers, but, instead, inspect them closely. Some are bright and fragrant, others dark and fetid, but there's always something to take in, and sufficient time to do so. To say that Adult Life is a Sunday stroll ignores the somber tone Giffoni often employs, or the challenges that will still await the listener on a track like "This is How You Pull the Trigger," but Adult Life certainly takes a more linear path than most of Giffoni's oeuvre.

adam strohm at 05:11 PM January 07, 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(4 votes)

Albums John Berndt - The Private Language Problem: New Electro-Acoustic Compositions, 2001-2007 (Abstract on Black) website

m_c89076a652c74894bac5cdc626dbf998.jpg At the age of eleven, little Johnny Berndt made his first recordings of avant-garde music, and, thirty years later, he doesn't seem to have slowed his pace. Berndt has released over forty recordings, and is highly active in his hometown of Baltimore both as a performer, and as a driving force behind the yearly High Zero festival and Red Room performance space. The Private Language Problem collects some of Berndt's latest electro-acoustic compositions in a compilation of tracks that are diverse in approach, even if largely homogeneous in character.

Berndt is a voracious seeker of new sounds; this album alone features instruments of Berndt's design, a "Shadow" audio filter that uses spectral filtering to marry a sound source and its repeated self, and Berndt's polyphonic feedback technique. Despite what its title might imply, however, the results of The Private Language Problem don't sound particularly singular to Berndt's work, and the whether his voicings and syntax differ from the norm, the final sonic result often doesn't reflect the unique tools and techniques of which Berndt makes use. The humming clank and clatter of "Grace," the gentle, ragged tones of "Enough Pain," and the unpredictable, flittering swarm of trunacted feedback in "Sounds of Madness" are each interesting in their own right, but not without compare in the realm of experimental music. This is all well and good; were complete novelty in sound a requirement for new music, record stores would be lonely places, but The Private Language Problem is one of those discs that, approached unaware, doesn't always reflect the unusual means of its creation in the final sound. "Older Now," which closes the disc is perhaps its most surprising, not particularly because of the oddity of its sound, but, instead, its familiarity. The Shadow filter is used to warp the output of an acoustic guitar, but the original timbral character of the instrument bleeds through, a rare familiarity amongst more alien sound.

Like the crackling fire largely reduced to sine wave tones in "Dry," Berndt's compositions take sound through transformations, with little audio presented unaltered. The ingenuity with which Berdnt works is impressive, even if it isn't always obvious in the music's final form, and The Private Language Problem shows that even if Berndt is often speaking his own language, he's got no problems communicating well with others.

adam strohm at 05:40 PM November 06, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(1 vote)

Albums Dan Burke and Thomas Dimuzio - Upcoming Events (No Fun) website

burke_5473.jpgThe cover of this disc is one of the best I've seen all year; a cadre of riot police, decked out and ready for action underneath an electronic sign, presumably for a public gathering space of some sort, that reads simply "Upcoming Events." Given this imagery and the typical tenor of No Fun's caustic catalog, one might expect something a bit more destructive, but Upcoming Events's fifty-seven minutes are far too wide-ranging to be pinned down within a single means of attack or character of sound.

Recorded at a number of live dates in 2004, Upcoming Events pairs Illusion of Safety founder and longtime noisemaker Dan Burke with San Francisco's Thomas Dimuzio, only slightly less of a veteran, having released cassette in 1988. The disc is compiled from performances over a three-day period, its fifteen tracks covering a great deal of ground, from the icy atmospherics of "In God We Trust" to the sparse glitch of "Transmission." Burke and Dimuzio are inclined, it seems, towards the ambient, and while Upcoming Events has its share of sharp edges and grit, there's a hum, drone, or tone at the heart of nearly every track. Cloudy static often drifts in the background, setting the tone for the incredibly textural manipulations that tend to come to the fore. The contributions of the duo mesh with the ease usually produced by years of collaboration, and while distinct voices are obvious, that they're being improvised simultaneously by twoseparate musicians is far less so.

So while things aren't as "eventful" as those chipper chaps on the cover might suggest, Upcoming Events feeds chaos in ways more subversive than an all-out riot of sound. Identifiable vocal snippets in "Leave Here Right Now" are some of the few points of context in an otherwise alien confluence of sound sources, and its this unfamiliar feel that makes for the disc's most compelling arc. Burke and Dimuzio's digital soundsmithing doesn't often hit the listener like a club to the head, but its disorienting effects tend to sneak up on the listener, and pack a punch all its own.

adam strohm at 08:34 PM September 22, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(3 votes)

Chris Forsyth - Live Journal at the Mice Machine VIP Dance Floor (Inunabulum) website

LiveJournalCover.gif Chris Forsyth's musical coat is one of many colors, from the quiet abstraction of early duets with Ernest Diaz-Infante to the creepy, dark ramblings of Peeesseye to the fractured drone of Phantom Limb & Bison. Almost ten years since his first collaborative release, Forsyth has finally issued his solo debut, the verbosely titled Live Journal at the Mice Machine VIP Dance Floor, and, of course, it features a new sound from the Brooklyn guitarist. Forsyth's work has hinted at folk before, and flirted with melody, but rarely in his discography are the two featured as prominently as they are here. Of course, Forsyth doesn't play things completely straight, but the degree to which Live Journal... dips into the pretty, even pastoral, is a bit of a revelation coming from Forsyth.

Performed almost wholly on twelve-string acoustic guitar, Live Journal... is bookended by "Anxious" and "Bones," which were commisioned by Diana Crum in 2007. In each, multi-tracked guitar is layered and blended to create quilts of disorienting sonic intersections. On the former, Forsyth opts for a steadier course, while the latter moves in a patchier fashion, its individual threads widely spaced in opposition to the opener's density. The album's innards are a touch more straightforward, tending to find Forsyth working in folkier territory, with economic performances of solo guitar (and, at times, unobtrusive percussive timekeeping). "Absurdly
Beautiful Kinetics" is a jarring exception, opening with a furious strumming that doesn't let up until nearly halfway through the track. The spartan, rhythmic chords that plod through the rest of the song have the same minimalist underpinnings explored elsewhere on Live Journal..., an album that is based largely on repetition, at times almost relentlessly. Forsyth keeps things moving, though there's little divergence from his well-defined paths.

Anyone who has ever driven through Ohio can attest to the fact that picturesque scenery can lose its luster after a while, and a few of Live Journal...'s tracks might suffer from this same phenomenon. Still, the disc isn't a bore, and on the twelve-minute "Contrarian's Lament," the album's longest (though most satisfying) track, Forsyth stretches things out beautifully, with a stark simplicity that's more babbling brook than storming river, but no less enjoyable for it. It's an alluring composition that belies the tender touch of Forsyth; the cover, reminiscient of his homeland's flag echoes the strain of Americana on the track, and the album as a whole. One can't be certain when Forsyth's next solo effort will drop, and given his tendencies its entirely possible that this album might be an anomaly within his discography, but its an unexpected departure to be enjoyed nonetheless.

adam strohm at 08:35 PM September 08, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll: 25.40/12
(12 votes)

Albums Warmer Milks - Soft Walks (Animal Disguise) website

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Warmer Milks started as Mikey Turner (Michael, as of late) playing a short set of acoustic tunes at the home of fellow Lexingtonian Trevor Tremaine (Hair Police, Eyes and Arms of Smoke). What began as a rather humble solo endeavor has become much more, with Turner and a revolving cast of compatriots having gained some serious momentum, most notably with Penetration Initials, released on cassette by Mountain in 2006, and Radish on Light, a cd/lp put forth by Troubleman later that year. Since these releases helped put the band on the map, other issuances have followed, including Let Your Friends In, on Release the Bats, and any number of limited run cassettes and cdrs. Come 2008, Turner has cleaned up his act just a bit, and on Soft Walks, the Milks eschew much of the damaged improv vibes that were a large part of their past, with Turner concentrating on his songsmanship first, with any real tomfoolery largely kept to the music's borders. Soft Walks finds Turner at what might be his most straightforward, though it's certainly not a smooth, overly polished document, with plenty of the Milks' scruffy spirit imbuing even the most conventional of song forms.

Soft Walks doesn't move in a hurry; the songs drift by with a languid drawl, moving in straight lines, but not without a good bit of rambling along the way. The band loosen the nuts and bolts of their rootsy rock to create a ramshackle approximation of a good ole sound. A warm rusticism spans the disc, from the beauty of Turner's slow burn balladry to the group-sing choruses that might sound cheesy if they weren't so damn endearing. One of three untitled instrumental tracks is one of the album's rare ventures into the abyss of abstraction, though it is decidedly in the minority here, an out-of-place departure that serves as an interruption of the disc's momentum more than anything else. The hazy cacophony that interrupts "The Truth" and the kraut-ish beat that pulls it back into line aren't exactly in harmony with the rest of Soft Walks, either, but the shift seems more organic, a natural, if unexpected appendage of the track's plodding first movement. Tracks like "Wild Spring" are the album's highlights, however: Turner's songwriting here is best experienced unfettered, and while the world-weary tone of the disc's darkest passages isn't without effect, it's the bright and rollicking moments, uptempo and optimistic, that are Soft Walks' most satisfying.

It's not likely that Turner will keep this up for long, and Warmer Milks will likely be knee deep in some manner of wrecked backwoods improv, but this batch of Milks is one to check out, before the ever nomadic aesthetic of the band is on the move again.

adam strohm at 04:38 PM August 26, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll: 13.45/12
(26 votes)

Albums Emeralds - Solar Bridge (Hanson) website

emeralds-solarbridge.jpgEmeralds' bevy of cd-r and cassette releases, which has grown at a volcanic rate since the band's inception in 2005, seemed to be pointing towards something greater as of late, less a shift in the band's aesthetic than a nudge towards more realized musical statements, the transformation of an appeasing stylistic approach into music more affecting. Solar Bridge, the Cleveland trio's first proper album, is a crystallization of these trends, and the group's most compelling release yet, featuring a group of young men who have pulled things together at just the right time.

That Solar Bridge is impressive should be no grand surprise to those with their ears on the tracks, as it were, over the past few years. However, the dense, layered sound that Emeralds have typically endeavored to create is in its finest form here, spread over two tracks and twenty-six minutes. A clean, clear recording exhibits individual sounds with a clarity that enrichens the mix; singular voices are isolated within the drone as the guitar, synthesizers, and effects coagulate into a beautiful din. One is struck almost immediately by the heft of the sound, as "Magic" roars to cruising altitude, its celestial glimmer dark and rough at the edges. The Moog-ish synth tones that twist and squiggle at the track's center diminishes slightly its stoic gravity, but there's little that has the potential to bring the music back to earth. "The Quaking Mess" is even more active, the synthesizers and guitar creating a writhing mass of sound over another deep drone before a quick crescendo pulls the track into a viscous glacier of sound. Save for the obligatory fade, Solar Bridge closes at its most intense, with little room for the ominous denouement that finishes things off.

Many of Emeralds' peers are noisemakers of a tumultuous pedigree who love nothing more than to loose havoc on the ears of their audiences, but these lads do things differently, with a control of the sound that is the understated strength of Solar Bridge. No matter how far out the music gets, Mark McGuire, John Elliott and Steve Hauschildt have things well in hand, molding the music with purpose and patience. Though they've not previously released a full-length cd, it's a stretch to call Solar Bridge Emeralds' debut, given the length of their discography. Still, it's an formidable first for this as-yet relatively young trio. One can only hope this isn't some sort of high water mark, but one noteworthy step in an ascending arc.

adam strohm at 10:37 PM August 24, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(4 votes)

Albums Christian Weber - Walchturm Solo (Cut) website

weber.gifIt's not just in packaging that Jason Kahn's Cut imprint is consistent: the attractively sleeved discs often contain a musical aesthetic as steeped in simplicity as Kahn's design sense. The Cut catalog is full of discs with a fairly constrained trajectory, discreet musical instances with a well-defined focus. Walchturm Solo upholds this curatorial tendency, featuring Christian Weber on solo contrabass, and while Weber's technique varies throughout the disc's thirty-eight minutes, the performance is one of a steady determination, a long-form improvisation that largely avoids superfluous gesture or aimless wandering. Solo bass recordings can have a tendency to become taxing in the wrong musician's hands, but Walchturm Solo maintains a compelling arc, far from static, but also without needless fiddling or hyperactivity.

The single track that comprises Walchturm Solo begins with Weber create a creaking cacophony, like a chorus of doors in an old boat's undersea cabin being opened and closed in a collection of groans and squeals. Weber's concentration on the diverse textures of his instrument remains a near constant throughout the album. An interlude of pizzicato plucks and percussive slaps gives way to bowing that hints at a repetitive melody that is never birthed, with the almost tactile sound of the bow rubbing the string more important than any specific note that might resonate. It may be the character of the room in which Weber performed, or perhaps the means of Kahn's recording, but the bass sounds wonderfully deep, its lowest emanations sounding forth with a titanic rumble. Work higher on the neck elicits a rich, reedy texture, though Weber seems dispositioned to the nether regions of his instrument's range. One can practically hear the physical form of the instrument explored in detail by hands and bow. The disc isn't especially brief, but there's little in the way of long-windedness within; Weber takes the time to explore the different facets of a sound or technique, but doesn't linger too long.

He may not be a big name amongst players of his big instrument, but Christian Weber's made one of the more interesting solo bass albums to hit these ears in recent years. He explores the many voices of his instrument without giving in to the indulgences that can strike the soloimproviser, and what might be Walchturm Solo's best quality (aside, perhaps, from the character of its fidelity) is the way that Weber takes his time. He's not exhaustive, but Weber knows just how long to tarry in one spot or the next, making for a journey that moves along at just the right pace.

adam strohm at 05:49 PM August 13, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(4 votes)

Albums Andrew Liles & David Menche - The Progeny of Flies (Beta-lactam Ring) website

flies.jpegThis cross-continent collaboration between two veterans of far out sound doesn't feature the extremes of either man's aesthetic, opting instead for something more sedate. Ostensibly dedicated to the life of the ubiquitous insect, The Progeny of Flies is divided into four tracks, one for each stage of the fly's life cycle. Rather than harp on the insistent, annoying buzzing that characterizes the housefly in the minds of most, Liles and Menche work with sullen simplicity, creating what sounds more like a funeral dirge for the insect than a celebration of its growth.

At the heart of The Progeny of Flies is an ominous darkness. On "Eggs" and "Metamorphosis," which open and close the proceedings, things are more direct in the form of dense, sometimes heavy tonal clusters, but the intervening tracks, "1st to 3rd Instar" and "Pupa," Liles and Menche opt for a sparse pairing of acoustic instruments (piano, strings, and drums) over far more subtly rumbling tones and drones. The latter approach may be the less immediately forceful, but its foreboding effect lingers longer in the mind. Liles and Menche are a touch dramatic at times, though an emotional component is a welcome addition amongst what might could have been sterile sonic experiments. The somber mood of "1st the 3rd Instar," provided by the piano, is an odd choice to represent a stage of great metamorphosis in the life of a fly, though one gets the feeling that either Liles and Menche view this assumption of a new form as a decidedly forlorn time, or, more likely, that there's little to be gained in attempting any sort of literal reading of the sounds on the album in concert with the stages they represent.

"Metamorphosis" is the disc's most striking track, taking its name to heart in a slowly shifting progression that builds from sparseness into a claustrophobic cacophony of interwoven drones before coming to a close with the sound of the album's namesakes, the fly finally reaching its mature adult form. The buzz of the fly takes on an threatening tone, and that Liles and Menche are able to imbue the appearance of an animal little more than a pest with such foreboding is a testament to the atmosphere they spend the whole album constructing. The Progeny of Flies isn't the flashiest of releases, but its impact is one that relies on more understated entreaties. Like a persistent fly flying about the plate of a diner, The Progeny of Flies doesn't behave with any undue bravado, but once enters the consciousness, the listener will have a hard time ignoring its persistent effect.

adam strohm at 02:02 PM August 03, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

(2 votes)

Albums Andrew Liles & David Menche - The Progeny of Flies (Beta-lactam Ring) website

flies.jpegThis cross-continent collaboration between two veterans of far out sound doesn't feature the extremes of either man's aesthetic, opting instead for something more sedate. Ostensibly dedicated to the life of the ubiquitous insect, The Progeny of Flies is divided into four tracks, one for each stage of the fly's life cycle. Rather than harp on the insistent, annoying buzzing that characterizes the housefly in the minds of most, Liles and Menche work with sullen simplicity, creating what sounds more like a funeral dirge for the insect than a celebration of its growth.

At the heart of The Progeny of Flies is an ominous darkness. On "Eggs" and "Metamorphosis," which open and close the proceedings, things are more direct in the form of dense, sometimes heavy tonal clusters, but the intervening tracks, "1st to 3rd Instar" and "Pupa," Liles and Menche opt for a sparse pairing of acoustic instruments (piano, strings, and drums) over far more subtly rumbling tones and drones. The latter approach may be the less immediately forceful, but its foreboding effect lingers longer in the mind. Liles and Menche are a touch dramatic at times, though an emotional component is a welcome addition amongst what might could have been sterile sonic experiments. The somber mood of "1st the 3rd Instar," provided by the piano, is an odd choice to represent a stage of great metamorphosis in the life of a fly, though one gets the feeling that either Liles and Menche view this assumption of a new form as a decidedly forlorn time, or, more likely, that there's little to be gained in attempting any sort of literal reading of the sounds on the album in concert with the stages they represent.

"Metamorphosis" is the disc's most striking track, taking its name to heart in a slowly shifting progression that builds from sparseness into a claustrophobic cacophony of interwoven drones before coming to a close with the sound of the album's namesakes, the fly finally reaching its mature adult form. The buzz of the fly takes on an threatening tone, and that Liles and Menche are able to imbue the appearance of an animal little more than a pest with such foreboding is a testament to the atmosphere they spend the whole album constructing. The Progeny of Flies isn't the flashiest of releases, but its impact is one that relies on more understated entreaties. Like a persistent fly flying about the plate of a diner, The Progeny of Flies doesn't behave with any undue bravado, but once enters the consciousness, the listener will have a hard time ignoring its persistent effect.

adam strohm at 02:02 PM August 03, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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Albums Andrew Liles & David Menche - The Progeny of Flies (Beta-lactam Ring) website

flies.jpegThis cross-continent collaboration between two veterans of far out sound doesn't feature the extremes of either man's aesthetic, opting instead for something more sedate. Ostensibly dedicated to the life of the ubiquitous insect, The Progeny of Flies is divided into four tracks, one for each stage of the fly's life cycle. Rather than harp on the insistent, annoying buzzing that characterizes the housefly in the minds of most, Liles and Menche work with sullen simplicity, creating what sounds more like a funeral dirge for the insect than a celebration of its growth.

At the heart of The Progeny of Flies is an ominous darkness. On "Eggs" and "Metamorphosis," which open and close the proceedings, things are more direct in the form of dense, sometimes heavy tonal clusters, but the intervening tracks, "1st to 3rd Instar" and "Pupa," Liles and Menche opt for a sparse pairing of acoustic instruments (piano, strings, and drums) over far more subtly rumbling tones and drones. The latter approach may be the less immediately forceful, but its foreboding effect lingers longer in the mind. Liles and Menche are a touch melodramatic at times, though an emotional component is a welcome addition amongst what might could have been sterile sonic experiments. The somber mood of "1st the 3rd Instar," provided by the piano, is an odd choice to represent a stage of great metamorphosis in the life of a fly, though one gets the feeling that either Liles and Menche view this assumption of a new form as a decidedly forlorn time, or, more likely, that there's little to be gained in attempting any sort of literal reading of the sounds on the album in concert with the stages they represent.

"Metamorphosis" is the disc's most striking track, taking its name to heart in a slowly shifting progression that builds from sparseness into a claustrophobic cacophony of interwoven drones before coming to a close with the sound of the album's namesakes, the fly finally reaching its mature adult form. The buzz of the fly takes on an threatening tone, and that Liles and Menche are able to imbue the appearance of an animal little more than a pest with such foreboding is a testament to the atmosphere they spend the whole album constructing. The Progeny of Flies isn't the flashiest of releases, but its impact is one that relies on more understated entreaties. Like a persistent fly flying about the plate of a diner, The Progeny of Flies doesn't behave with any undue bravado, but once enters the consciousness, the listener will have a hard time ignoring its persistent effect.

adam strohm at 02:02 PM August 03, 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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