Browsing All Posts published on »March, 2012«

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

March 29, 2012

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Too moderately paced to really signify as dance music, the opening track of this EP is, nevertheless, hella heavy. Building on accumulating layers of atmosphere, when its brutalist bass hook and simple kick pattern enter, it hits with an ominous compulsion as dark and deep as doom metal. It’s not all darkness though: the track shifts into funkier uplands, still slow, admirably so, but with the kind of rhythm that hooks you bodily and pulls you with it. Similar strategies are in evidence throughout the Rauthaz EP: it’s not a matter of slowness and darkness, but of the creative exploitation and framing of potentially limitless digital resources …

Barren Waste – NSE (ambient)

March 23, 2012

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Barren Waste are a band of many guises. They first came to my attention as a metal band with a raw and uncompromising attitude to noise, and a willingness to explore harsh frequencies and creative dissonance, rather than slipping easily into the language of sludge or grindcore. They also, as witnessed by this album, have a penchant for electronic music of an experimental bent. Furthermore, their Bandcamp page offers twenty releases from this year alone, most of a substantial length. Sadly, their guitarist has gone his own way, due to creative differences, which means I won’t get to hear the unification of these apparently disparate approaches quite as soon as …

Heidi Harris – All Fall Down (freak folk)

March 21, 2012

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The way this album is presented, you’d think it was a more or less random bundle of artistic detritus, a set of oddments that didn’t fit anywhere else, of interest mainly to hardcore fans and completists. ‘Collaborations, new recordings, song sketches and 2 videos’ is the promise made on the Bandcamp page. Why then does it sound so creatively coherent? Either Harris is being deliberately disingenuous (or perhaps just excessively diffident), or she works with such a degree of creative and aesthetic clarity that her every artistic gesture, however casual, bears her unmistakeable imprimatur. I would guess that the truth lies somewhere between the two …

Monday Musing: Is Art Political Again?

March 19, 2012

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The more I write about different things, musical aesthetics, the music business, music industry politics, culture and all the rest of it, the less I feel like I’m writing about different things. It’s only when I take a step back that I can see how abstruse and theoretical some of the things I say about aesthetics, for example, must appear, because for me there is nothing less political about a topic like that than there is about any overtly social subject. Everything is political, everything is aesthetic, everything is emotional, everything is spiritual and everything is subject to fruitful theoretical examination …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

March 17, 2012

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If you want to you can put your own rap to this beat, you can slip your own beat beneath the words, or you can chop both into a stew of your own devising. From my perspective, as a reviewer, the habit of packaging a single with its bare beat and an a cappella is an absolute godsend, enabling me to get another sense of each component, and doing a certain amount of my analytical work for me. The beat here has a heavy enough drum part, but the piano filigree that tops it works with the lyrically melodic bassline to evoke that combination of optimism and regret so characteristic of the UK underground’s more contemplative moments…

Karda Estra – Weird Tales (chamber prog-psych)

March 14, 2012

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Karda Estra occupies a fairly unique territory, not a million miles from what Gunther Schuller coined the term ‘Third Stream’ to describe, although, notwithstanding some audible nods toward its harmonic verticality, jazz is not the main constituent of its language. It’s rare that I find myself writing about music where the musicianship is as purposely transparent as it is here, but improvisation is not a feature of these sounds either, and the players are at pains to realise the compositions accurately and expressively without drawing attention to themselves. This is of course standard practice in the classical world, or rather, it is the ideology of classical performance …

Sven Kacirek – Scarlet Pitch Dreams (tuned percussion)

March 11, 2012

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This is a record that sounds good. It is serious, experimental, creatively rigorous; it is the audible trace of a man in pursuit of an uncompromising artistic agenda, that makes no concession to the market. And yet, it is an unaffected expression of sheer pleasure in sound, easily as much an act of jouissance as it is a linguistically structured utterance. Kacirek’s love of timbre is powerfully evident in the sophistication with which it is deployed, in the lengths to which he is prepared to pursue its effects, and the intellectually contingent effects of listening to his music are accessible only through the bodily experience of the sound.