petriblog

Intermittent D.I.Y. music / art / life writing projects.

Month: May, 2012

Andreas Brandal – Parts Of The Puzzle C34 (Ginjoha)

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This release by Andreas Brandal consists of eight tracks of unique textural and atmospheric scenery. I am not familiar with Andreas’ work, but this cassette has made a nice first impression. The track titles are I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII. Four on each side of the tape. Track I begins with acoustic guitar sounds mixed with some hard to recognize sounds. This evolves into a more textural sound with higher pitched tones occasionally appearing like far off signals, coming in and out over the top of some unrecognizable machinery running. The textural sounds fade and what sounds like pulling on a loose piece of metal comes in. This evolves into pulsating and textural sound before fading.

Track III starts with something like the sound of an object bouncing off metal and a slow pulsating drone. There are unique and eerie sounds that come into the mix. This track is very soundtrack-like, in an unconventional way. The sounds are not really identifiable but there is an ambiance and mood set. It also is somewhat hypnotic with the repetition of some of the sounds.

What seems like a manipulated or distorted vinyl sample starts the fourth track. Coming in quickly are insect like sounds (though clearly not insects) and a mechanical sound like a motor of some sort. Also there is a metal percussion introduced. All of these sounds and additional textures play off each other nicely. These sounds give way to piano like notes (minus the attack part) before the track fades.

The first track on side two has more hard to identify sounds: a kind of scraping sound, a motor type of sound, and occasional tones. Things become dense with new sounds coming in and evolving and older ones fading. Soft metal percussion and deep bass thumps deliver non rhythmic hits. A synthetic insect drone comes in and then everything fades.

Track VI begins with scratchy vinyl sounding loop with additional tones and a rhythmic sound in the background. There is also a low-pitched drone. All sounds weave around each other, slowly evolving, allowing different sounds to come forward before the track quickly dissolves.

The last track has a low pulsating texture and ambient wash panning over the top. The sound could be described as dark or eerie. A mechanical loop evolves into a mid-range pulsating sound and then the track fades out.

The whole cassette goes by pretty quickly. The sounds are difficult to recognize and describe. That is one of things that makes it an enjoyable listen. Also the tracks aren’t too long. Andreas does a nice job of creating an atmosphere from unique noises without sounding clichéd. The sounds seem to play off each other at times and things get hypnotic in some areas.

Parts Of A Puzzle is a very enjoyable listen and I hope I get the chance to hear more of Andreas’ work.

(Written by Phil Klampe)

Cassette still available!

Hear a sample & purchase @ Ginjoha: http://ginjoha.blogspot.com/

Andreas Brandal: http://www.andreasbrandal.com/

Orbless – Spinning Liquid Mirror C30 (Fabrica)

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Immediately when I put the tape on play I heard a low frequency, which is maybe an artifact of the dub, or maybe a side effect of the electronics used in the recording process. I think maybe both. This first track on side A, called “HAARP” is analog electronic music in the vein of academic/conservatory electronic experimental music. Weird blips, chirping, fluttering, bloop, cheeeeee, ZAP-ZAP, rumbles, tweeting, abrupt watery echoes, brain scramble rays. This type of description is relatively useful for describing both sides, actually. It’s all somewhat with a mind of its own – nearly pulling loose from its leash, always sounding strangely earthy yet alien, communicative yet nonsensical, at times scathing/alarming and at times oddly warm/mood-enhancing. There are times when this type of sound is perfect for me to use as a brain-cleanser; to wipe my mind clear of expectations and bloated aesthetic cravings that have led me to a corner of thought-stifling sameness. Morton Sobotnick’s The Wild Bull came to mind when I first listened to this, but of course they’re pretty different from each other. I enjoy them in the same way/for the same reasons, though; no rhythm (or at least not very often), sounds always changing freely, immersively electronic in the analog. Very enjoyable and a nice mix-up for Fabrica’s catalog.

Fabrica records: http://fabricarecords.wordpress.com/releases/

PHBTK – verfall/melachoir 2 x C60 (Cathartic Process)

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I was excited to come across this on accident one day glancing at the Cathartic Process website. This is a re-release of two collaborative cassettes from the late 80’s made by Hands To (Jeph Jerman, also recorded with City of Worms, Blowhole, and others. Ran the Big Body Parts label) and PBK (Phillip B. Klingler). I came across this not long after I had spent a few months listening heavily to cassettes from this time period.

The reason I went on this 80’s tape scene bender was that I had spent 2-3 months leading up to this time listening heavily to the Hands To recordings “Circumscription” (my favorite), “Nazha”, and “Turn Back the Sun”, along with a few more recent recordings (artwork pictured below) that I had ordered directly from Jeph Jerman.

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(Hands To – Flatline 2 x 1-sided vinyl. Ultra-deluxe hand made artwork. Petri supply.)

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(Blowhole – Gathering – Blowhole is an avant garde jazz ensemble with Jeph on drums.)

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(Monument Valley, City of Worms – Whime, Linguala, Sound 6, and Assemblages) 

(all very enjoyable and recommended)

This wave of enthusiasm for his work made me want to dig into the history of the 80’s tape scene again, primarily to seek out more of Jeph’s recordings as Hands To or City of Worms. I did some looking around at Hal McGee’s website, had a nice session of reading at Don Campau’s online archive of 80’s cassette culture, and listened again to one or two of Hal’s fantastic “Homemade Alien Music” podcasts. With my friend (Phil Klampe of Homogenized Terrestrials) I enjoyed some great conversation and a good look through his fairly substantial collection of old tapes, and he lent me tapes by Maeror Tri, Malok, Minoy, and City of Worms. I also borrowed a few issues of Hal McGee’s Electronic Cottage zine (which Jeph wrote a number of interviews, reviews and other items in), an issue or two of ND, Audio Drudge, File 13, and a couple others that escape me. In the midst of this streak I dug up the PBK recordings Macrophage / The Toil and the Reap, and Shadows of Prophecy / In His Throes and had a few good listens to them, too.

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…So I was much more than primed to hear this. Verfall & Melachoir are beautiful shifting streams of nameless, faceless shapes across the frequency spectrum. On both of these there is the familiar, earthy, low fidelity rumbling heard often in Hands To and PBK’s recordings. The sound is of layers of field recordings likely recorded at various locations with hand-held cassette recorders, mingling with manipulated atmospheric sounds likely recorded at home with a 4-track. The field recordings seem to be from many sources, including road noise, wind, metals clanging, machine/power tool sounds? The “atmospheric” sounds seem to include different types of feedback and other atonal, somewhat echo-effected, or otherwise washed-out textures possibly originated by synthesizers, guitars, samplers, or processed field recordings. There are throughout both recordings bits of tape warble (damaged tape used for its strangeness, or subtle yanking of the tape as it is played or recorded?), and occasional sounds of the pause, stop, or fast forward button being tickled. It may be of note for some that Al Margolis (If, Bwana), president the Sound of Pig label, which originally released Melachoir, plays on one of the pieces on the Melachoir tape.

A stew of impressions and/or observations:

Fierce distorted noise blasts, delayed tinkling sounds, tiny dropouts of dry confrontational midrange overload, warbling high-pitched stringlike sounds, characteristically blurry low end sounds filling out the bottom end, muted or burgeoning energy (not sure which), a guitar bowed with a stick, the tape speed is upped or lowered in order to reach the timbres arrived at, mesmerizing sound; eerily tranquil, mid-pitched ninth-chord type of drone that sits muffled in the middle between the rumble and the twinkles, odd tones, reverbed fizzing sounds akin to short wave radio static, reflections in the reverb sounding similar alternately to wind through a screen door, or the ruffling of a plastic bag full of polystyrene peanuts, machine-like grating sounds skittering, a sample from David Lynch’s The Elephan Man, (I think) colored by the pleasingly degraded sound of a television’s speaker being recorded at a distance, a repeated false start of what sounds like a bad tape is gradually encroached upon by various textural backdrops, a din of reverb and panned feedbacks, delayed/reverbed flange which is looped on the descending side of the flange only.

It could be said that these two recordings are typical of this period of these artists’ work, and I don’t see that as a negative thing. They reinforce each other’s strengths synergistically. These tapes are thoughtfully composed, fascinating mixes of great, rare sounds. There is, to me, a psychedelic, transporting quality to the din of textures. I always enjoy what I feel to be the head-clearing effects much of these two artists’ works have, and to anyone I would enthusiastically urge that these artists be explored individually as well as with this fortunate re-release of their collaborations.

PHBTK double cassette is still available at the Cathartic Process website – $11 w/shipping:

http://catharticprocess.com/cp/?page_id=59

Strongly recommended recent interview/profile on Jeph Jerman:

http://www.timesquotidian.com/tag/jeph-jerman/

Strongly recommended interview/profile on PBK:

http://livingarchive.doncampau.com/interviews/philip-b-klingler

Related to the 80’s hometaper scene (downloads/listens & plenty of interesting information on under-celebrated artists of many styles) :

http://livingarchive.doncampau.com/

A film (probably the only film) about the 80s cassette scene (includes irritating commercial interruptions, but is good quality & full length):

http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/grindstone_redux