Browsing All Posts published on »June, 2012«

Various Artists – Album Roundup

June 12, 2012

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Quietness has been an important trope in avant-garde music since the days of Minimalism I guess, but it has been articulated in many ways, within a diversity of musical practices. The near inactivity to which some free improvisors have gravitated, or John Cage’s invitation to listen to the contextual ambience for four minutes and thirty-three seconds, or the work of many ambient composers, all exploit the signifying power of low amplitudes. Place is also an important theme in many musics; in Cage’s famous piece, the performance space itself becomes composer, performer and material, whereas ambient music usually aims either to colour a place, or to invoke one.

Caution Horses – City Lights (pop-rock)

June 11, 2012

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The songs on City Lights are tightly orchestrated in guitar driven arrangements of a sort that might be attract the irritating descriptor ‘soft rock’, but sound more to me like a species of post-punk, à la Joe Jackson. A prominent, mid-rangy bass weaves sinewy counter-melodies through a weft of cleanly recorded and crisply played drums, while bright and rhythmically precise (acoustic and electric) guitar fills out the harmony; a variety of other elements are added to this basic structure, such as analogue synth and multi-tracked trumpet in ‘Sound of America’, a guitar and scat unison solo in ‘Letting Go’, electric piano and flute in ‘So What?’ or organ in ‘Start A War’. On paper that sounds like a recipe for an elaborate mess, but …

Plum Flower Embroidery – Naki Bone Jangle (psychedelic)

June 9, 2012

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I did a little bit of ‘research’ (a word that used to mean research, and now means believing the first thing you see on the internet), imagining that Naki Bone Jangle would turn out to refer to a ritual noise-maker made from bones by members of a native American tribe. Well, that may be the case, but I couldn’t find any reference to it. I could always have asked Richard Knutson to explain, but I think it’s worth trying to understand a recording as released; this one is enigmatic on many levels, and that is clearly a central plank of its meanings. Plum Flower Embroidery is a one man project, of the sort that I would almost certainly not have come across were it not for the way the internet has turned out…

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

June 4, 2012

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In recent years the avant-garde fringes of metal have become one of the most fertile sites of musical creativity and invention; while my central musical inclinations might be towards other areas, such as jazz or folk, and while those areas certainly harbour some radically creative minds globally, the majority of music produced and performed locally to me is pretty conservative. Earthmass is one of several bands I have the opportunity to engage with directly (attending gigs, meeting the members, building an ongoing relationship as a music writer, etc.) that pursue a radical formal agenda, and really keep their eye on the ball creatively. There is no uncritical regurgitation of the tropes of heavy music here, no taking the language as given …