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Various Artists – Album Roundup

September 8, 2014

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Richard Pinhas and Yoshida Tatsuya are legendary figures in the French and Japanese experimental rock scenes, respectively. ‘Experimental’ is a term that implies a bit of diversity, and the projects they’ve been involved with have covered quite a range of approaches, so there is nothing predictable about this record, and nor would there have been, whatever it sounded like. Pinhas is a guitarist with a penchant for live looping technology, which he uses here to create shimmering skeins of sound rather than hard-edged rhythmic repetitions, mutating colour fields with texturally filigreed surfaces and pelagically roiling depths. He uses quite pronounced distortion, which takes the music into the fringes of noise, but it is soft and warm, amniotically …

Tim Risher – The Cracked Chimes (ambient)

July 3, 2013

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Ambient music is usually associated with a certain set of characteristics; although dance music producers became interested in ambient as a source of inspiration, and whole stylistic zones have arisen around the combination of different dance genres with ‘ambient-type’ sounds, even to the extent that the term is frequently used unadorned to refer to such music by those unaware of its provenance, one thing it often lacks is an overt beat. When Tim Risher suggests we might hear his music as a ‘mix between ambient and techno’, I guess we should take his use of the latter term as a…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

September 13, 2012

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Given its title, its cover, and Quak’s avowed intention to make ‘dusty’ albums, we might expect a taste of nostalgia, of painful distance about this recording; it begins with thunder. This doesn’t presage any protracted exposition of sturm und drang however; it seems rather more like the thunder heard through the windows of childhood, the thunder that tells you a rainy day will be keeping you indoors for the foreseeable future. Quak employs elements of conventional tonal practice to establish emotional conditions, and makes use of technological or human noise and natural ambience to evoke more experientially specific states of being. The sounds have an unsettling character, leavened with some notes of optimism, all filtered through a distancing …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

June 27, 2012

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Being able to afford soap is the new bling. That’s not necessarily a satirical conceit most artists would consider hanging an entire album off, let alone their group identity, but BIG $OAP MON£Y CR£W are not ‘most artists’, and that’s exactly what they do. Not that this is overtly a concept album, despite its consistent use of all caps and currency symbols, but the identities adopted by its creators are maintained scrupulously throughout; it’s not pure comedy from start to finish, but WA$H YO FAC£!‘s unbroken satirical undertow betokens a refusal to take themselves too seriously, or to ape the street pomposity of the self-obsessed, machismo fetishising mainstream. This is funny, sometimes eye-wateringly so, and it pokes plenty of affectionate fun…

Dementio 13 – El Lissitzky (electronic post-rock)

June 12, 2012

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Composers of electronic music, if they wish to work with a relatively accessible aesthetic, face a particular set of challenges: to avoid a sense of impersonality, to make their music feel ‘human’, to make it breathe, when it may in fact move no physical air between the moment of composition and the moment of reproduction, requires the artist to attend consciously to aspects of the sound that occur automatically in acoustic performance. The uniformity of a repeated sound produced digitally in response to identical instructions is not completely compatible with the idea of music as an expression, as an act of affective communication; this characteristic of electronic music can be exploited as a positive (not just to evoke anomie), by addressing the …

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…