Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jon Hassell - Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street

Label: ECM Records
Released: 2009
Style: Jazz, Ambient

"...Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street is Hassell's first recording since 2005's Maarifa Street: Magic Realism, Vol. 2; it's an assembled montage of sessions recorded in France and Los Angeles, and concerts are also woven into the rich fabric here. Hassell's music, even now, sounds alien, beguiling, mercurial, seemingly formless and airy but full of subtle washes, shifts of tone, and polyrhythmic strategies. The ten cuts here are mostly middle-length pieces that range between five and eight minutes, but three -- "Time and Place," "Clairvoyance," and "Scintilla" -- act as transitions segmenting, however seamlessly, the album into roughly thirds.

The band contains a pair of holdovers from his last outing in bassist Peter Freeman -- who doubles on laptop -- and guitarist Rick Cox, who has been augmented by no less than Eivind Aarset on the instrument. The other new players include Jamie Muhoberacon keyboard and laptop, drummers Helge Norbakken and Pete Lockett, Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche on violin, and Jan Bang on live sampling. Together they root and extend the aerial sound of Hassell's trumpet that flows everywhere and anywhere. Check the simple bass and guitar rhythmic attack on "Abu Gil," the album's longest track, where In a Silent Way's "It's About That Time" meets the desert blues feels of "Anouar Brahem" and the Master Musicians of Jajouka meet the noir-ish ambient funk of early Shriekback. The title track, by contrast, is a long, loping, beautiful number where moods of morning, marketplaces, and nocturnal sunsets all loosely entwine around the listener. The obvious postmodern jazz soloist's approach hovers all around the shapes and colors evoked by keyboards and trumpet in "Courtrais," as soundscape, loops, and ambiences all deepen and widen before being grounded by a subtle but unflinching backbone-slipping bassline by Freeman. Hassell moves toward everything -- samples, drifting sonics, hints of melody, and, for such quiet and subtle music, an impressive harmonic palette -- to create a montage that evokes the timelessness of the past with a firm grasp on the unknowable, perhaps even unspeakable, future. His jazzman's sense of time and phrasing is enhanced by his painterly sense of space and shade. This album is further proof that Jon Hassell inhabits a terrain of his own, and reflects the true vibration of poetry as it meets the human ear as something akin to pure sound." - Allmusic


1 Aurora (5:22)
2 Time And Place (3:48)
3 Abu Gil (13:04)
4 Last Night The Moon Came (11:15)
5 Clairvoyance (1:05)
6 Courtrais (5:44)
7 Scintilla (0:50)
8 Northline (6:43)
9 Blue Period (7:58)
10 Light On Water (7:59)

Svalastog - Woodwork

Label: Rune Grammofon
Released: 2006
Style: Abstract, Experimental, Ambient

"True story, as told by Per Henrik Svalastog himself: “I found an old Norwegian zither laying around my grandfather´s barn in the mountains. It appeared that he had been a fiddler before he lost all his fingers at the sawmill and convertet to become a hardcore pietist setting down a prohibition against music, dancing, card-playing and television. That made me want to convert as well, from digital medias to real playing. From electronica to folk music. Back to the sources. Heritage and environment.” So it goes that Per Henrik is playing and improvising on archaic folk instruments like the ram's horn and harpeleik, which is a Norwegian zither. He is then processing it all in the computer, resulting in a detailed and accomplished but soothing and quite hypnotic music. Taking the music out of the city and into the Norwegian woods, and not the arctic regions, as is the popular image if you come from Tromsø and is associated with electronic music. Per Henrik Svalastog is also a member of Information who released the excellent “Biomekano” (RCD2024) on Rune Grammofon in 2002. The previous year he did a stunning SPUNK remix for their “Filtered Through Friends” collection (RCD2022), a track that is also available on the “Until Human Voices Wake Us And We Drown” vinyl box set." - Label


1 The Wood Metal Friction (5:13)
2 Snow Tracer (6:24)
3 Reconnecting Joints (4:52)
4 Mouse Tracking (5:58)
5 Centerline Reminder (4:18)
6 Reforestation (4:27)
7 Cow Goat Goat (3:17)
8 Slow Blowing Wireless (3:59)
9 White Oak White Pine (3:47)
10 Rework And Out (3:10)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Andy Stott - Unknown Exception

Label: Modern Love
Released: 2008
Style: Techno, House, IDM, Tech House, Electro, Dub Techno, Minimal

"Andy Stott has developed a unique sound since his debut for the Modern Love label back in 2005. His first demos were heavily influenced by the square-bassline techno variations of Claro Intelecto, a longtime friend, mentor and eventually labelmate and collaborator. His first release, ‘Replace’ featured a mixture of disciplines that took in elements of Detroit Techno and Chicago House which fast captured peoples imagination with intuitive, warm melodies and fathomless bass weight. From that point on Stott continued to shift and adapt his sound to take in ever disparate influences, from the driving techno of Dave Clarke’s ‘Red’ series through to Basic Channel, Dubstep, Garage and the minimalism of classic Sahko. His restless shift from traditional Techno blueprints through to the bottom-heavy signatures of dubstep and the steppers arrangements of garage have also placed him at the forefront of the dubstepXtechno hybrid sounds that have started to dominate the electronic music scene alongside the likes of Martyn, Peverelist and T++. This compilation brings together selected tracks dating back to Andy Stott’s debut back in 2005 and reaching all the way to his most recent material – with none of them ever available on cd until now. Tracks feature here from the ‘Replace’, ‘Ceramics’, ‘Handle With Care’, ‘Hostile’, "Bad Landing’, "Fear Of Heights’, ‘Massacre’ and ‘Nervous’ EP’s and stream through his fascination with deep, almost uncontainable basslines and ever inventive percussive shifts. The man really is a bit of a hero round these parts, and we consider ‘Unknown Exception’ required listening for any of you interested in the bass progressions and deviations where Techno, House, Dub and Garage collide to shift things to the next level." - Label


1 Fear Of Heights (6:20)
2 Bad Landing (6:10)
3 Handle With Care (4:50)
4 Long Drive (5:27)
5 Credit (7:07)
6 Massacre (6:57)
7 See In Me (6:07)
8 Made Your Point (6:04)
9 She’s Gone Wrong (5:31)
10 Fine Metallic Dollar (6:53)
11 Hostile (6:39)
12 Replace (4:43)

Stephan Mathieu - Radioland

Label: Die Schachtel
Released: 2008
Style: Drone, Minimal, Ambient

"Radioland is Stephan Mathieu's long awaited 5th full length studio work, following his acclaimed The Sad Mac CD from 2004. Exclusively based on real-time processed shortwave radio signals, Radioland takes the listener on a carpet ride across endless, majestic shimmering landscapes. Radioland is a mesmerizing reflection on the bubble of information thats all around us, all the time, by one of the truly unique minds in today's abstract digitalia." - Label


1 Raphael (10:04)
2 Gabriel (10:02)
3 Michael (10:08)
4 Promenade (5:06)
5 Auf der Gasse (5:03)
6 Licht und Finsternis zum Auge (8:20)
7 Prolog im Himmel (7:05)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Phonophani - Phonophani

Label: Rune Grammofon
Released: 2006
Style: Experimental, Ambient

"This is a rather beautifully packaged re-issue of Espen Sommer Eide's debut album, originally released in a limited run on Biosphere's 'Biophon' imprint in 1998. I must say although I am familiar with most of the Norwegian artist's output I have never come across this album before, and it is a pleasure to explore the murky depths now, 8 years after it originally landed. Unsurprisingly many tracks here bear relation to the early work of Alog (which recently featured on the killer 'Hold That Totem' collection), but they also manage to retain a life and soul of their own. Deep disorientating basslines punctuating filtered off-world instrumentation to create some kind of ambience, just not the kind of ambience we're accustomed to. I can see why Biosphere issued the record, while not obviously comparable to Biosphere's own output, this music could reside in the same overall ballpark, the same glacial beauty is trapped within Sommer Eide's work as within the work of Geir Jenssen. I think the most successful elements of the album come when Sommer Eide stops relying on electronic pulses and drones and brings in the distant sound of a guitar or another acoustic instrument - the merging of these two worlds becomes utterly involving and occasionally deeply moving. Another fantastic release on the Rune Grammofon imprint, I do wonder occasionally when these guys are going to slip up?? Highly recommended." - Boomkat


1 I.F.A. (4:20)
2 Ring (8:54)
3 Zurnas (6:08)
4 No Strangeclock (5:35)
5 Duration-Happiness (4:43)
6 Kaliphoni (3:54)
7 C (4:49)
8 Order Of Disappearance (5:08)
9 Sol (5:45)
10 Minne & Materie (5:36)
11 The Boy In His Bathtub (6:15)
12 Farger Rundt Hvitt (4:18)
13 Kreta (9:36)

Gavin Bryars - After The Requiem

Label: ECM Records
Released: 1991
Style: Modern Classical, Minimal

"After the Requiem continued Gavin Bryars' journey away from the more experimental work that made his reputation early in his career toward pieces possessing a more melancholic and romantic quality. In two of the works herein, "The Old Tower of Lobenicht" and "Allegrasco," one can hear echoes of his brilliant composing on the Hommages album. But where the romantic elements were stricter and more crystalline on the prior effort, here there is an expansiveness that sometimes succeeds and at other times verges on kitsch. Guitarist Bill Frisell performs on three of the four compositions, but his creamy, sustained chords tend to sound somewhat bland and occasionally subvert some otherwise very attractive melodic material. The standout track is a saxophone quartet number, "Alaric I or II," featuring the surprising presence of Evan Parker. In fact, Bryars' earliest musical ventures were as a member of the British free improvisation community, so the inclusion of Parker has some historical background. The composition is a very enjoyable melange of minimalist technique and references to Gershwin that manages to cohere into a satisfying whole. Fans of Bryars' more substantial work from the '70s or his improvising skills in groups like Joseph Holbrooke may find After the Requiem a little too sweet for their tastes, while listeners who are looking for something a bit meatier than Arvo Part or Henryk Gorecki may find their appetite satisfied." - Allmusic


1 After The Requiem (15:48)
2 The Old Tower Of Löbenicht (16:00)
3 Alaric I Or II (15:15)
4 Allegrasco (19:46)


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