petriblog

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

Month: March, 2014

PBK + ANLA COURTIS – INVASIVE SPECIES C40 (Green Records)

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On this recording, an artist I’m relatively familiar with collaborates with an artist I had previously not heard of. I will begin with the one unfamiliar to me; Anla Courtis.

From Wikipedia:

“Alan Courtis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on February 22, 1972. He studied classical guitar, piano, theory and composition. He holds a degree in Communication Science from the University of Buenos Aires, where he currently runs an annual music workshop. He played electric guitar in diverse bands and in 1993 he co-founded the group Reynols. With this group he has released more than one hundred CDs and vinyls worldwide in labels like Trente Oiseaux, Digital Narcis, Drone Records, Locust, Sedimental, Beta-Lactam Ring Records, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, RRR, Audiobot Records, Roaratorio, JDK, Reverse, Matching Head, American Tapes, Last Visible Dog, Carbon Records, Mikroton, etc.”

This artist has been around since the early 80’s just as PBK has. Exciting. It seems that his extensive discography has much character to offer.

Phillip B. Klingler has been active in the home cassette scene since the 80’s. (You can read a little bit, view some images, and learn about him a bit more here.) His recordings are careful weavings and structures of distinctively engineered sounds, moving between notions of dark ambient, industrial, drone, and noise music.

Invasive Species fits precisely with my impressions of PBK’s earlier work, with some of the organization of the 4 pieces being tighter and more carefully composed in comparison. Ominous noises and guitars loop asymmetrically, utilizing the the more straight forward musical tactic of repeating note / chordal phrases, rather than randomly shifting irregular sounds. The rhythmless loops repeat, and their happenstance tonic notes harmonize with some other element(s) of the piece. So strangely subtle (and perhaps unintended) is the tonal content that it may go unnoticed, but I perceive strange intervals of major 7ths, 9ths, 5ths, triad tones, and other combinations ricocheting and lingering through sections of these pieces.  The two sides here differ in ways beneficial to listen-thru pleasure in their textural variety and dynamics. Two 20 minute sides divided into shorter pieces from 6 to 12 minutes each splits up the listening experience, giving good time and space to absorb the sound works.

This is an enjoyable dark industrial noise listen that expounds on classic themes of industrial culture – industrial degradation of society & human life, hopelessness, terror, fear, tension, anticipation, visceral life-grit, textural sensations of the passage of time…

buy Invasive Species

an informative interview with PBK

information on Anla Courtis

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Notes on Vermillion Father – Sietch Tabr (Space Slave) with fond mention of Phil Western’s World’s End

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Vermillion Father is Jonathan Sacha, a person close to the Space Slave homebase. Slow loops of guitar, tones and miniature melodies perfectly realized in measured hypnogogic movements. The guitars are not quite naked as they are looped here, but they aren’t much under disguise either. Moderate use of reverb is the predominant sculpting tool used for these interweaving atmospheres. There’s an intimacy thereby created. A late night feeling, with total patience for infinite lengths of staring with wonder out at or into the incomprehensible vastness of space. The thinly decorated clean guitars keep the listener’s feet on the ground. Surrounding slow-moving smokeforms of reverbed tonalities (including usually another lightly sprinkled guitar or two) stir the natural urge to fantasize, daydream, nostalgically ruminate, contemplate, and to wander into other such mental labyrinths. The feelings of this tape are eerie yet comforting, offering a peaceful human-ness. The vehicle of these Earthly-human feelings is the chosen notes and handling of the guitars. Single note picking of simple repeating patterns leaves a lot of space for reverb atmosphere reflections. The dynamism of the sharper pickings (as opposed to washed out drones or walls of manipulated sound) brings a stimulating edge to the spaced-out moods of this tape. Makes for a very alert type of zoning out. Partial nudity of the guitars causes this music to be easier to connect to; some less defined or manipulated sound would be more alienating. I feel myself in the space of this music’s creation. It’s a familiar-feeling, well-lived-in sort of place. I would be very interested to hear subsequent recordings by this artist to hear where else he might go. This is a tape that has found itself played on a good number of hazy afternoons and evenings since I got it. Fits well with the feeling I get when observing the window-shaped sunlight blocks creep across the floor and up the wall over the course of an afternoon. Especially for a summer afternoon/evening when some drift time is available, this one is a prime dish.

To give a taste of something similar:

Something I thought of almost immediately upon hearing the opening of this tape is Disc 2 of Phil Western’s album World’s End. This disc is about 70-85% drifting atmospheres of guitar loops in the same vein as Sietch Tabr. These both are wonderful introspective listening.

Listen/download Sietch Tabr

Seth Cluett – wound of this deep blue (Notice Recordings)

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Dark matter audio. This is some quiet, sparse, subliminal sound artistry. Multiple media artist / performer / writer / professor Seth Cluett makes a low fidelity abstract music that hovers near some of Hands To’s earthy manipulated textures.

From his site:

“Seth Cluett (b. Troy, NY) is an artist, performer, and composer whose work ranges from photography and drawing to video, sound installation, concert music, and critical writing.  His “subtle…seductive, immersive” (Artforum) work has been characterized as “rigorously focused and full of detail” (e/i) and “dramatic, powerful, and at one with nature” (The Wire). Exploring the territory between the senses, Cluett’s works are marked by a detailed attention to perception and to the role of sound in the creation of a sense of place, the workings of memory, and the experience of time. His research interests and critical writings investigate the media history of the loudspeaker, the history and documentation of sound in art, archival practices for media art, and architectural acoustics.”

This project was apparently the product of a number of separate recording sessions (done between 2005 and 2013) which were then superimposed without any editing but for volume levels or muting. So what he’s done here is he has made seven (stipulated in the liner notes) tapes of material, some of them from live performances, and played them at the same time. Sounds are fortuitously blended to map out otherworldly spaces. The low fidelity of the source material and the effect of its resulting combined state brings the otherworldliness of our organic reality to the foreground. The resulting catalog of raw textures brings attention to other levels of existence, such as say, the consciousness -if such a thing would have a consciousness- possessed by an ancient sea rock, or a giant Sequoia tree. Somehow there are other worlds vastly different than our own, and somehow they are unimaginably close to us, rather than light years away. Varieties of subtle meandering drones loosely undulate as indescribable shadow-laden events take place in the periphery. Cluett sometimes seems to use musical instruments such as guitars and synthesizers, but mostly it sounds like he uses field recorded sounds. Slow scraping sounds, hums, feedbacks, moments of machinery usage, sounds of air moving, fizzing, electrical sounds, moments of nature, and other “real” sounds are found by microphone and held by tape. The musical instruments are blurred and obscured until recognizable only as a tone or combination of tones.

Cluett’s sound gathering and creation sensibilities are in tune with the rhythms and forces of the natural world. Wound of this deep blue is a gently challenging meditative audio taxidermy of everyday beauties. Glad to have had this artist brought to my attention as he is one to watch.

Notice Recordings

Seth Cluett

 

 

Frank Bretschneider and his new album. Frank Bretschneider – Super Trigger CD/Digital (Raster-Noton)

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There are other electronic minimalists, but Mr. Bretschneider’s flavor is specially associated with the microscopic click-pop-crackle-beep sort of world put forth by the Raster-Noton and Mille Plateaux labels. He was a founder of the Raster-Noton label, along with Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) and Olaf Bender. The implementation of identifiable rhythm and tonality, however filtered or abstracted, makes Bretschneider’s work stick out to my ears. Other artists such as Alva Noto, Atomtm, Mark Fell, and others don’t have the flavor that Bretschneider does in his tonalities and choices of rhythm construction. These aspects of his creation are distinctively simple yet thoroughly unusual – especially on albums such as Curve, Rand, and his collaborations with Taylor Deupree (Balance) and Ralph Steinbruchel(Status). There is the odd coldness of the hollow electronic space, but for me it’s somehow touched by a mystical warmth. I think it’s in the tonal / atonal composition and the texture, which of course is where it’s at for any electronic music. The “warmth”, I guess, isn’t so much the warmth of a hug, a blanket, a cup of tea, or a crackly fireplace. To me, this warmth is a warmth of richness of thought; a complexity of emotion and understanding – despite the relative sterility of the electronic bleeps, tones and statics. In the rhythms and shapes of the sounds I receive intimations of the wonder felt by deep-thinking technologists eager to push forward into the unknown future of humanity through such new methods of sound communication.

 

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Several degrees edgier and at least 35% busier than Komet, Super Trigger is a surprising step forward for Frank Bretschneider. His minimalism seems to have begun to unravel slightly, but he remains deliciously restrained. Programming has become a bit busier, and parallel sounds at times become denser, filling out greater swathes of the sound field. Harder, danceable rhythms dominate the 13 pieces, which is a turn even further away from the microscopic subtleties of earlier recordings such as Curve. (If you’re a fan of electronic music and haven’t yet heard Curve, waste no time in seeking it out.) Super Trigger takes the same earlier approaches of solidness of rhythmic content, minimal foreground tonalities, and centerpiece textures that sometimes gesture and morph over time.

As previously noted, the rhythms take the foreground on this album, at times seeming possibly influenced by things like Mika Vainio or breakcore music. He never goes that far, but various harsher aspects of sound and rhythmic elements hint at a push in visceral energies. The beats are mostly dance-able or at least upbeat. I wanted the entire album to stream together like a DJ set, having the rhythms shift and translate in trademark Bretschneider ways over a nonstop hypno-stream of deliciously bizarre texture-rhythm. This would be probably the best minimal techno / beat album I have ever heard if it existed. Somebody please throw this idea at him and see what he says.

Though this isn’t a nonstop Frank Bretschneider DJ mix-style album, it is no less great. Even on his early albums, Bretschneider’s music has always been anti hypnotic; it shifts, gyrates, and prods the upper registers of your eardrums’ sensitivity spectrum. Each piece here is its own stimulating rhythmic world, with interesting pairings of sound creating imagined spaces. Most of these come across somewhat like rhythmic studies, playing and fishing around inside of a rhythm for the unexpected, and then awkwardly or abruptly abandoning the search. I get the feeling from this album that these are experiments moving toward some greater idea he is working on, even if the idea includes more of this loose rawness I perceive. It feels less overtly composed than Komet, Rand, or Curve, and feels less cohesive from piece to piece. This does not make me enjoy it any less. This is an interesting collection of pieces that explore distinctive ideas. It is the perfect length for a demonstration / discussion of current modes of operation and development in Mr. Bretschneider’s laboratories. This is what any album by any artist inevitably embodies, but I feel like this -different and new itself- is a genuine faith-step toward something different and new. I’m excited to hear this through this album, and will listen to it with consistent fascination until the next album is released.

Below you will please view and listen to one of the most remarkable tracks from Super Trigger:

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