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

Month: June, 2013

V/A – ICASEA – Benefit Compilation for Japan download (ICASEA)

ImageMy good friend suggested to me that I check this out and down-buy it, and I did so right away. The decision was very easy. This is a 75 track compilation of electronic music for $10. I like electronic music a lot, of various types, which this comp. possesses in bulk. I like buying in bulk. Bulk dry beans, especially. Also, this helped make the decision go quickly:

“”Benefit Compilation For Japan” is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the March 11th Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and to those affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis.

All proceeds from the sale of this compilation will be donated to assist in the rebuilding of peoples lives and the recovery of the devastated areas. The proceeds will be split between the Japanese Red Cross Earthquake Relief Fund and the special accounts set up by the regional governments of the affected areas for the acceptance of monetary donations.” 

Artists of noted interest to me immediately due to some familiarity with &/or extensive enjoyment of their recordings were Luke Vibert, Team Duyobi, Autechre, Takashi Muto, Freeform, Mogwai, CliffordandCalix (Mark of Seefeel & Mira Calix) and Russel Haswell. Names I recognized were Stellar Om Source, Subjex, The Wyrding Module, VHS Head, Laurel Halo, and Lee Gamble.

In the realm of electronic, Benefit Compilation for Japan goes in a lot of directions. Some are a little too much for me, maybe a little too urban/trendy/clubby/hip-hoppy? to get all-the-way into, but there aren’t any that I absolutely must skip past. Some of the pieces have an overabundance -to me- of what is called “side chain compression”, which is a currently in-vogue production technique which makes chosen elements in a piece of music drop volume drastically at the hit of a bass drum or some other chosen element. This effect is used in preposterous overabundance by people that make the typical sounding dubstep- party brain-clog. Some pieces are characteristically modern electronic music leaning toward club-type music, but with creative twists that make the piece/song edgier, weirder, more interesting. There’s a bit of vocals here and there, either rapped, spoken, or sampled, which has varying effects on my aesthetic faculties; I lean strongly toward the instrumentals, but the tracks with vocals here are either fully to my liking (CliffordandCalix) or they slip past with little to no chafing. A couple tracks I am noticably chafed by are the ones that would easily be categorized as sounding the most “modern” or “current” in the methods of programming, especially in the stylish, mid-tempo and just-a-little-out-of-time beats. These tracks aren’t really that bad, though, to me. My friend, whose name I will not share here, (Lay off on the driving of the Skrillex teasing into the ground, you vicious, acidic bastard you! If I actually did like Skrillex as you say I do, it would have been knocky-door ginger with bigly flaming 7lb. paper bag of doo on your  porch about 6 months ago, pal!) would say that I am secretly a huge admirer and impassioned unconscious plagiarist of certain flimsy and mega popular electronic artists and their styles. Contrary to his rude insistence on incorrectly believing this to be true and needing to badger me about it, I do not enjoy most clubby or dubstep-sounding music. It’s a good thing, then, that this compilation doesn’t just myopically stick to this vibe.

The collection has an overall uplifting or stimulating quality and is wonderfully diverse. I love laptop or synth programmed electronic music a lot of the time, especially the more out-there sort; in the territory of many of Skam or Schematic’s releases, and that’s where most of this sits. With Warp, much of this music sits, too. Great stuff as long as you’re not turned off by recordings that are slickly processed, overtly and unabashedly electronic. If you hate the general feel of music by Aphex Twin, Chris Clark, Squarepusher, Richard Devine, Autechre, Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, etc. you will probably hate most of this, too. A lot of it is very post-processed and programmed, or at least sounds that way. Some people insist on their electronic music being a lot less processed; more like Kluster, Eno, Can, Tangerine Dream – in more organic-leaning, psychedelic territories. Seems like there’s only a few tracks here that lean at all in this direction; it’s all slicked up quite a bit, mostly by way of it being mostly software-based synthesis & sequencing. There’s probably more than I think on here that was created exclusively by synths that were not interfaced with software, but my 83% psychic extra sensory abilities discretion power tells me that more than 93% of this music was programmed into and elicited from a computer. I see nothing wrong with that, but there are people that don’t like to even be reminded of laptops or clubby sounding music.

But there is an answer for these people…

The comp. goes from catchier stuff the first half to more adventurous creations toward the end. There isn’t a night and day transformation. It’s more like a noon to 8P.M. blend & fade; a slow and fine transform of features. My interest really picks up more in the latter half where things get more odd.

There are some ambient-type pieces, namely Collapsoft and Laurel Halo. There are a couple of noise/concrete pieces, namely Russel Haswell, Denis Darfour. These are all good and unique, adding depth and extra topographic points to the spread of the compilation. There’s an excellent piece of solo piano music by Konx-Om-Pax; animatedly thoughtful. Seesaw has a strange item of wandering synthesizer melody sketching that is difficult to categorize, but several degrees higher than pleasantly listenable.

My favorites (some of the most adventurous and clever pieces – mostly among the later tracks): Ametsub, Wankers United, Nuearz, Neil Landstrumm, Analogue Wood and Michael Winslow, Autechre, S>>D, Luh, Voyetra, Joe Lentini, Mesak, The Wyrding Module & Skeksi,  Collapsoft, CliffordandCalix, NMB, ZK, Freeform, ICASEA, Konx-Om-Pax, Seesaw.

5K3K51 and Subjex’ tracks are probably my favorites, for the extremity of other-worldliness arrived at in their manipulations, and the high quality of the rhythm construction.
These two tracks embody some of my favorite elements of newer electronic music in texture and composition. The mood is eerie, inward-looking, transporting. The rhythms are entrancing, busy, enveloping. The texture gets microscopic and plentifully variegated. The simultaneous veins of intensely analytical programming/embellishment and loose-flow zone-out on these tracks is stimulating in special ways distinctive to this type of music.

The very last track, credited to ICASEA, is 24 minutes long and threads its way from a skeletal IDM similar in flavor to some of the more sparse Tri Repetae-era Autechre, to pensive ambient gyrations and flailing, all touched lightly with reverb, coming in and out of the dark silence between each thrown toneball, not unlike a luminescent jellyfish would appear and disappear to the eyes in the darkness of some underground sea life observatory.

Such a beautiful end to what is probably the most high quality compilation I’ve ever come across; for its economy (75 tracks for $10!!!), the much-more-than-worthy cause it benefits, and the thoroughly enjoyable contents.


Parashi – The Book of Nothing C40 (Cave Recordings)

ImageThis is another of the noise breed I love most. This style is metabolic, dingy, haunting & metaphysical, among other feels I enjoy. In a similar vein to some recordings I love by City of Worms or PBK, or the double-cassette PHBTK. Some brief pieces of this tape remind me of some Zoviet France or Rapoon, but there is an anxious restlessness here which doesn’t allow for what in many cases for Zoviet France or Rapoon would be a rapt, suspended animation held-breath transcendence. Instead, this tape is overall more of an aural horror session, especially the sizable portions which focus on some nasty pitch-shifted voiceplay.

In this tape a carefully limited selection of rumbles, gentle mechanical whirrs, and other textural backdrop materials are composted and turn randomly beneath usually two to five unnerving gestures of sound which flail and wail in the forefront like animals in shocked-and-astounded throes of death. The fidelity is of a low cassette fizz atmosphere, which puts a lovely blur into the mind of the listener, fermenting horrific moods that I would compare at times to something like certain parts of the first two Exorcist movies. I’m aided in my perceptions of metaphysical topics by the title of this tape being The Book of Nothing, a title which makes me think of some more esoteric and therefore more frightening version of The Necronomicon.

If you enjoy strange murky atonal lo-fi noise sculpturing this will work well for your mind.

 Get @ ((Cave))

<p><a href=”″>PARASHI – Salt Diggers</a> from <a href=””>Moduli TV</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Parashi / Chapels split C20 (House of Alchemy)

Excellente Earth Noise

Parashi and Chapels are both artists I’ve heard of many times from many places on the internet, and this tape has served me as a fulfilling introduction to both. After numerous listenings to this tape, as well as Chapels’ Last Nights and Parashi’s Book of Nothing, I presently view them as occupants of the topmost block of my imagined hierarchical pyramid of current noise-type artists of the cassette scene variety. I also put Fossils, Regosphere, and Cruudeuces up there. I don’t really ever choose an absolute favorite of anything, but I do like to list a favorites grouping now and then. Like the others in my current noise honors list, Parashi & Chapels Know What They Are Doing.


Parashi’s sensitive movements in various noises of various flavors is spacious, texturally elaborate, and abound with technical and compositional prowess. Of the present tape, the title of Parashi’s side is Azoth, with three sections: “Blemmyae”, “They Undulate When Struck by Light”, and “Low High”.

“Blemmyae”, a terrific title, begins with bleak blips and splatters of sound hesitantly appearing and disappearing, often half-formed; interrupted in their materialization, to temporarily evaporate from the sound field. These sounds wait for moments of variable length before pushing their way back into this dimension again, often deformed or having slightly different attributes. This is comparable to dream characters often being strangely different, alternate versions of people we know in real life, yet known to us in the dream basically as the person we know in our “real life”. The sounds are wonderfully unique in texture, with origins that are difficult to trace. The stop and go develops not quite to a cacophonous din, but becomes thick and steady.

“They Undulate When Struck by Light”

Title reminds me, not very creative on my part, of snails or earthworms, which would be good fodder probably for a video accompaniment to this segment. As with “Blemmyae”, this piece includes elements which sound pitched down, and therefore distinctly bizarre and dark as soil. The course this piece takes is fantastically organic and linear. I imagine the point of view of a Journey-To-The-Center-Of-The-EARTH type drill-pod drilling mid-speed into some unknown and weirdly colorful planet, floating at the same pace through maybe 2 or 3 hollow spaces that are filled with fossils of past lifeforms – no life in sight.

“Low High” is a droning piece based on harmonic overtones, or the illusion of them. Tones of different timbres ricocheting and flowing through/past each other. Odd sounds happen here and there in the background, thickening the substance.

From what I’ve heard, which is only a couple of releases, I have become very fond of Parashi, and expect I would not be let down by investment in more recordings by him. This is great, earthy noise experimentation with a broad palette. The artist clearly possesses more than sufficient imagination and talent to have consistently fascinating results.


Chapels’ side is much of the same school, but having a bit more weird-ambient or lo-fi-drone-collage characteristics. Sounds are lo-fi dingy, with good doses of echo on various elements, and sometimes over the whole mix, it seems. The first segment, “Blood Cure”, reminds me vaguely of soundtrack and visual auras from José Mojica Marins’ super-weird-trash horror films. For that matter, the whole side, to me, has a feel that reminds me of this. Echoed-out blurs of Halloween-season flavored murkmud. “Blood Cure”, though, has a trashed guitar being drunkenly molested top to bottom, unnerving voice down-in-the-well repeatedly intoning something incantational, and amidst these two constants there is a selection of semi-constants which enter and leave the room, decomposed to different shapes upon each re-entry.

Of the same sensations, “It’s All Going” takes you to an adjacent room, seeming to have less color on the walls, and less clutter, but still a lot of varied movement happening on all surfaces. Bugs, mostly? Big, small, shiny, long, fast-moving, slow-moving… Joe’s Apartment, but with a few flickering TV screens playing pirate stations of cut up VHS of all sorts, maybe there is a severely grizzled-looking man in the room watching one of the TVs. He is holding a dead kitten? A hole big enough to walk through is burned into one of the walls, and it leads outside, to some woods, which are also burned. I haven’t seen this but I might have heard all about it in this song called “It’s All Going”. (Term “song” used humorously – I am a stupendous comedian with a bottomless well of snappy quips to charm off the pants.)

The last and shortest piece, by the name of “Ritual”, is eerie twinkling on loop, put through different manipulatory motions and slow volume fluctuations to make room for additive sounds. Choice vinyls being slowed and sped through reverbs? The same cast of echo is here on this piece, with a vaguely perceptible room dryness (?) received by the recording microphone. Occasional shifts of equipment or feet seem to happen now and then, endearingly betraying the reverb lands fashioned by the sound sources and piped through the wires to the amplifying apparatus. If this is not a room mic recording, I apologize, but my theory that it is causes me to enjoy it just slightly more. Intimacy. Realness. Flavor.


The quality of this noise composing/composting (the compost bucket being there where I chose to unceremoniously photograph is only a coincidence, but the organic artifactory-ing & layering used by both artists is analogous) coupled with the dirty rawness of the recording aesthetic, reminds me of some of the excellent experimental/industrial noise recordings I’ve heard from the 80’s (a lot of them from Hal McGee’s Homemade Alien Music podcast – Highly Recommended!). The Hands To / PBK collaborations Melachoir and Verfall are in this realm, as are some of the numerous recordings by City of Worms. This is 2013, though, and I don’t think these guys are trying to re-live anybody’s past. They very well could have spent a lot of time in their lives listening with pleasure to all of the aforementioned name-drops, to end up being accordingly influenced. I theorize that they’re really trying to do something specific with their sounds, and if you ask me they’re doing a pretty cool job of it.



My interest was immediately siezed when I grasped that this is what I was dealing with. I am thankful to have been made aware of this.

An album of the sounds of porcelain bowls filled with water, and their surrounding acoustic artifacts, sometimes enhanced with field recordings, then layered and/or otherwise edited by computer.

Being an avid admirer of artists such as Jeph Jerman and Michael Northam, I hear this recording as being in a vein of similar taste. It deals somewhat with the automatic / non-performance sorts of creation more focused in Jeph Jerman’s work, and contains the organic naturalism found in both artists’ recordings. Of course there are distinguishing differences, perhaps most noted in the use of a computer, and Sauvage’s focus on resonant bowls of water.

I will say that for me Robert Hampson is somewhat of a touchstone here, too, being an electro-acoustic composer slanted toward naturalism, aesthetically at least if not so ideologically as Jerman & Northam are. Feelings at various points in this recording remind me of those evoked by some of Hampson’s recordings heavier on the unidentifiable  sounds of natural origin.

The approach is largely based on the foundation of “jalatarangam, a rare, disappearing instrument of traditional south Indian music, porcelain bowls filled with water tapped with bamboo sticks.” (From the press release.) She has taken this instrument / technique and made it her own by way of adding hydrophones and other objects to elicit and sculpt interesting sounds. Soft, moist, smooth sounds; harmonizing and reflecting in bewitching ways, sometimes forming melodies that work like free verse buoying a few concise recurrent themes. It’s mentioned that Sauvage was influenced by Alice Coltrane, and I can hear it most notably in “Making of a Rainbow”, which is admittedly my favorite track due to its leanings toward melody. This leaning, though, is so slight. It’s a (seemingly) non-played, wabi-sabi melodiousness; a poetic string of tones dictated by nature and gravity, which actually pervades this entire recording upon deeper regard. Enhancement layers of resonant bowl/water or just water are perfectly blended in at times, with sensitive attention to volume curve and chosen additive sounds.


I’m mesmerized by this recording, with the exception of the few more chaotic portions (“Mylapore”, “Jalatarangam Revisited”), which crowd out the wide spaces left, on most of the other pieces, as breathe room for the gently lulling water motions and the many breeds of soft muted ‘bong’ sounds of resonant bowls. These chaotic pieces are beautiful, too, but you would wake right back up were you to fall asleep before your phono needle reached either track. I believe a person can and should use any recording for whatever listening purpose they choose, so using this LP to nap to at times is, I guess, an acceptable possibility for some people. I myself find it way too interesting, textured, and complex to rip myself off like that.

The label, Aposiopese, is new to me and looks compelling.

ap·o·si·o·pe·sis [ap-uh-sahy-uh-pee-sis]

noun: a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.
1570–80;  < Late Latin  < Greek:  literally, a full silence.