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Posts tagged “Drone

Braeyden Jae – Fog Mirror

braeyden-jae-coverLabel: Whited Sepulchre Records WS001

http://whitedsepulchrerecords.com/

https://whitedsepulchrerecords.bandcamp.com/

White Vinyl LP limited to 260, 30 premium include an ant’lrd split cassette with specialty insert.  Time: About 42 minutes

Tracks: Vanishing Procession, More Washed Feeler, Obscured and Waiting, Two Mirrors Looking, Fogged Placer

With respect to music genres, where does ambient end and drone begin?  Can music help to offer a refuge, focus the mind or distract it?  Fog Mirror flirts with all of these possibilities.  I admit to being puzzled at times on why some music needs to be so heavily shrouded with the melodic aspects pushed nearly out of reach, yet unexpected benefits can occur, like vanquishing a worrying thought, eroding it with sound.  Admittedly, I don’t always understand the approach, but I appreciate the intent, especially if the quality of the recording is full and not bleached-out into an unpleasant monophonic haze.

Remember the moment in the original Star Trek pilot episode The Cage when Captain Pike and Mr. Spock touched a plant on the forbidden planet Talos IV?  The layers of sounds emanating from the alien plants and the remaining ambient atmosphere were revealed…Spock even smiled.  Never seen it?  Here’s a reminder…

The point is, there is often an overall gestalt to sounds, music and atmospheres, being greater than the sum of their parts, and there is mystery and intrigue in imagining how those sounds were created if those parts were to be disassembled.  The layering creates unexpected harmonies and overtones, and even unrelated memories of events can be activated.

Braeyden Jae’s latest album Fog Mirror (Braden McKenna’s nom de plume) clears the mind yet it can steer its focus in rather curious ways.  Each piece has a perceptible aggregate tone (whether major or minor, deliberate or unintentional), and some tracks stay relatively stable, almost devoid of a perceptible melody, whereas others meander and ruggedly thrash beneath the haze.  McKenna carefully disguises the sources of his sound generation, which I’m guessing are varying degrees of fuzz applied to an electric bass, piano (literal in Obscured and Waiting, but veiled elsewhere), along with various effects, treatments, noise and perhaps some field recordings.  The illusion of water and wind, which appear to be created synthetically, are prominent throughout, offering the effect of cleansing, even if it suddenly appears as a deluge.  Another quality of the recordings is the “Did I just hear that…?” aspect of the layering, like walking in the dark and seeing something move nearby or the flash of something moving beneath the surface of a body of water.

 

Vanishing Procession is like sitting behind a gentle waterfall with occasional peeks through the cascading water to a scene beyond, or sitting on an open porch with rain falling as time passes slowly by.  There are some similarities the works of Nicholas Szczepanik, but McKenna’s variations in the layering of the sounds are more subtle.  In contrast, More Washed Feeler is practically a deluge with a undercurrent of recirculating ascending and descending notes, a sonic mantra of sorts.  Seven minutes into the piece, the torrent is forced open slightly to reveal a swirling undertow.

A steelier resonance is present in Obscured and Waiting, with a slow pulsing piano.  This is the most identifiable, melodic and peaceful track on the album with a wooly-fuzz bass occasionally piercing the quietude off in the distance, sounding like shortwave radio sawtooth-wave interference.  The piano evolves into sounding like far-off carillon bells. This is a rough-edged version of portions of Budd and Eno’s The Plateaux of Mirror.

bj-tt

There’s a veiled rhythmic gait working against a counterpoint of concealed peeling bells in Two Mirrors Looking.  It’s more industrial-sounding with an undercurrent of an old shipyard recorded just below the surface of the water with a sudden harmonic shift at about 6-1/2 minutes as perhaps a ship’s screw passes by on its journey out to sea.  The last and longest track on the album, Fogged Placer, I actually perceived as being the shortest—a rather odd time-shifting experience.  This track allowed a memory of mine to return, back to the days when I commuted periodically to the Adirondack region of New York as a passenger in a twin-engine Piper aircraft—sitting in the back listening to the two engines shift the timing of their revolutions slightly, generating hypnotic vibrations and harmonics that were transmitted into the plane’s fuselage.   At certain moments, it also sounds like watching a blanketed symphony performance, with my ears isolating the cellos and double-basses.

Finding a semblance of peace in absolute silence these days can be rather difficult (especially when unwanted tinnitus randomly appears), and an album like this can help achieve a frame of mind that allows an imaginary escape to evocative places and memories.

****

An aside, I wonder if Braden McKenna has ever heard the opening side of the 3 LP set of Consequences, by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, produced in 1977?  I could hear some similar background atmospheres, although the resulting piece is quite different.


Salvatore Passaro – Overwhelming

SP Overwhelming Cover

Label: mopstudio  CD-R (Gatefold case with artwork by Mahnaz Esmaeili): MST 001  Time: 51:59

CD available at: http://www.mopstudio.com/site/

Digital files available at: https://salvatorepassaro.bandcamp.com/releases and at iTunes

Tracks: 1) Stone 2) Touch 3) A Light 4) Dream 5) Memory 6) Next 7) Circular 8)Blue 9) Overwhelming 10) Early Morning 11) Settembre 12) It Is 13) Trip 14) Sinestesia

There’s a somewhat enigmatic quality to this album: the instrumentation, what might have inspired the work and to a certain extent, Mr. Passaro himself.  What I do know is Italy-based Passaro’s last work, a collaboration with Carlo Cossu entitled Earth, was released approximately 15 years ago, and there are some excerpts from that collaboration scattered around the internet (which I chose not to sample).  Since I’m a bit of an equipment geek, I normally find background helpful, although I’m told by some musicians, “…never reveal your secrets…”  Despite the album’s title, Overwhelming is a relatively calm offering that exists within a fairly narrow emotional range, with minimal sonic distractions and melodic directions.  Whether spontaneous or scripted there are moments where Overwhelming leans toward the ambient music genre with an occasional sense of place, and others where it’s nearly sleep-inducing devoid of an identifiable physical realm, yet the music generally hovers somewhere in between.

Salvatore PassaroThe instrumentation (real and/or virtual?) appears to be primarily electric guitar, piano and some electronic keyboards with various effects and treatments.  The strongest sonic nudge is the opening track, Stone with purer sounds that are woven and sustained.  Only near the end more forceful tones and grit enter the soundscape.  Touch is more spacious with grainier qualities.  Then the album settles into a more pleasant, swaying and peaceful interlude with A Light, Dream, Memory and Next.  In this section places and memories are evoked with veiled sounds of a shoreline, wind, voices and the outdoors.  Next is the most restful.

Many of the pieces seem to be improvised with minimal underlying structure (I could be entirely wrong).  Circular has drifting voices co-mingling with piano and keyboards.  Blue continues with even more random bell-like notes (perhaps on a heavily processed piano) until there appears to be momentary references to Vangelis’ Memories of Green.  Ironically, the title track Overwhelming is one of the more sedate pieces on the album with gently rolling voices mixed with guitar and keyboards.  Whereas, relatively true to its title, Early Morning has sounds emerging and blending much like the rising Sun as colors of a new day are gradually revealed as darkness wanes.  Settembre is plucky, gritty and random.  Phased, flanged and wandering is It Is, and Trip gently winds-up and then coasts with scenery wisping by in slow-motion.  Sinestesia closes the album and is the haziest, layered and trance-inducing track, and it doesn’t stray far from its central sonic focus.

 

The CD version of the album is available directly from the artist at the website noted above with digital versions available at Bandcamp and iTunes.

****

This is a solicited review.


Western Skies Motel – Buried and Resurfaced

WSM - B & R

Twice Removed TR051 CD-R Time: 29:21

Label: https://twicerememberedtwiceremoved.bandcamp.com/

Artist: https://westernskiesmotel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Western-Skies-Motel-310816295732546/

Tracks: 1) Awakening 2) Black Sea 3) The Quiet Rust 4) Passage 5) Echoes 6) Behind These Walls 7) Thaw 8) Distances

Buried and Resurfaced is the final release, of 60 albums and EPs, from the Twice Removed record label.  Label curator Gavin Catling, in far away (from me) Perth (western) Australia, has done a fine job of bringing artists and musicians to our attention since 2011, and I’m sorry to see him put the label to bed, but understand his desire and need to bring the project to an end.

 

This album arrived here at an interesting moment; I had recently done some reading on the gradual and tragic decline of the Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Some of what I have read and imagined about the decline of that landscape seems to have parallels in René Gonzalez Schelbeck’s musical creation, even the title.  I have also just seen Guy Maddin’s adventurous, liquid-time-bending and bizarre film, The Forbidden Room, and in many ways Buried and Resurfaced could have been a soundtrack for that film.  The film is an homage to old lost and often quirky movies, which Maddin reimagined, and they are collected as an amorphous omnibus that is almost beyond description and, at times, comprehension.

Another parallel to Buried is it can be beheld as either individual pieces or part of a larger whole with a real or imagined narrative.  The tape-decayed and modulated passages in Buried blend remarkably well with Maddin’s visuals (firmly planted in my memory—it’s an intense film).  The possible album storylines I have posited are two possible accounts, but there are many others, despite what might be the actual intent (if any) of RG Schelbeck.

Rene Gonzalez Schelbeck

There is an ancient and mysterious quality to the music from the start.  Tape decay and flutter produces wrinkles in the perceived time continuum.  The electric guitar is also well disguised with bowing, modulation, and effects, often yielding qualities akin to a long-neglected Mellotron or Chamberlin.

Awakening is the languid preparation for the journey and pending storm.  Black Sea has a dark foundation and buffets with macabre winds lashing a hull at sea and occasional sonic breaching of the portholes (this piece is an especially perfect match for Maddin’s film).  Quiet Rust is a peaceful yet unsettling aftermath to the storm with its sustained and reverberant atmosphere (this track is well mated with Schelbeck’s companion video: scenes of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake).  It also reminds me a bit of Kane Ikin’s and David Wenngren’s collaboration Chalk from their 2012 album Strangers.

Being cast adrift in an increasingly dense fog is the texture of Passage with expanding and layered dark droning strings.  Echoes pulses above and near before vibrating from the depths (a subwoofer helps to enhance this).  Sounds move near, then are distant and fade into the ether.  The most active and sweeping of the tracks is Behind These Walls, as if the storm of Black Sea returns, this time on land with squalls lashing relentlessly.  I think I hear the warm and familiar hum of a tube amplifier in Thaw, with the percussive plucking of strings, as if water is dripping from ice in a warming sunshine.  Buried and Resurfaced closes gently with the reflective and contemplative Distances with far off sounds of (perhaps field recordings of) nature absorbed into the haze.

 

My one criticism of the album (also a compliment), is the abbreviated timing of some of the pieces makes them seem rather elusive.  Just when settling into the immersive aura of the music, some tracks fade away too soon, and I was left hoping that each would last longer for a more deeply enhanced experience.  Perhaps extended versions might appear at some point in the future?

****

Trailer to Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room

****

This is a solicited review.


Cory Allen – The Source

CA The Source

CD PR025 time: 40:53 (Also available as an LP, first 100 copies on coke clear vinyl)

1) Divine Waves – 12:11 2) White Wings – 8:53 3) Neon Mandalas – 6:58 4) Crown Canal – 12:48

Cory Allen: Hammond Organ, Harmonium, Tanpura, Rhodes Electric Piano, Violin, Voice, Mbira, Balalaika, Tibetan Singing Bowl, Gong, Tingsha Bells, Chinese Bells, Balinese Nut Shell Shaker

With Brent Fariss: Bass, Henna Chou: Cello and Lyman Hardy: Drums and Percussion

Artist: http://www.cory-allen.com/ Record label: http://www.punctumrecords.com/

Preorder link: http://www.punctumrecords.com/shop/coryallen-thesource

Without any prior guided experience to an astral realm of enlightenment, I feel a bit underqualified in commenting on certain aspects that may have influenced or inspired this album, but I feel perfectly at ease in speaking on the restorative nature of music, meditation and private contemplation.  The mind is often so pre-occupied with distractions that thoughts become fragmented, confused, and the ability to concentrate is diminished—so at times a realignment is in order.  Cory Allen’s new album, The Source provides a gentle yet intensive framework to cleanse the mind and re-focus awareness.  In tech-speak: defragmenting the hard drive.

The Source, I think, is both a reflection of Allen’s own achievement of radial balance and self-unity, as well as a sonic guide for others to experience.  With repeated auditions of the album, awareness of both the individual instrumentation and the gestalt of the overall effect of the work increases.  For those less familiar with Cory Allen’s oeuvre, and before listening, an important aspect to keep in mind, is to suspend conventional expectations of musical structure and melody, and allow oneself to be drawn into the experience of both listening and feeling the sounds in the recording.  Also, Allen’s work often uses a loosely rules-based construction including guided improvisation.

Divine Waves slow-dances on the edge of something resembling a liquid jazz with the initial two, three and four note phrases exchanging between cymbals and bass (plucked and later bowed).  A tanpura joins the ensemble and its whirr is sustained by merging with the bass, cymbals, and chiming of inter-mingled bells and bowls.  I hesitate to say that the cello is a later mournful addition to the group, yet it adds a wistful calm with an electric piano gently weaving throughout.  The instrumentation in the latter part of Divine blends into a soft vibrating drone and is as much about the sound heard, as well as the interaction of the vibrations being felt (to experience this, I recommend listening with well-placed speakers at a volume roughly equivalent to match the original live sound of the instruments versus using headphones).

Initially focusing on the interplay of two and four notes phrases on a balalaika, White Wings’ bowed cello and bass, drums and harmonium absorb and weave while stretching varying dissonances.  A first sonic alignment appears at a little more than two-and-a-half minutes, before meandering many times again with loose guidance (visually, like a flock of migrating swallows as they gather in the autumn, at sundown, seeking a resting place for the night).

 

The most intensive experience on the album is within Neon Mandalas; initially there is a chorus of deeply toned voices (which I think should have extended even longer), and once held in that realm, other elements are introduced with their fleeting movements (percussion, drums, bass and tanpura).  A choir of gently plucked Mbiras (like a gentle steady rain) and bells provides a sonic background for an emergent and focused organ that dissolves into a returning familiar plucked acoustic bass phrase—a sort of arrival.

Crown Canal seems to represent a departure, reflecting on the fullness of the experience.  The cello has a somewhat somber recurrent melody, reminiscent of a recessional or postlude, and has a tonality of resolution within a duo of a harmonium and tanpura.  The ensemble is gently punctuated with percussion and voices.  Despite being the longest piece on the album it has a curious absorptive quality, which compresses a sense of time, while achieving a state of steady entrancement.

The more I have listened to this album, it seems there is a general framework describing Allen’s own experience—the album appears to be a journey in four parts, describing what I interpret as: preparation, journey, arrival and return.  The recording and mastering achieves a profound clarity and realism that I have come to know in Cory Allen’s previous albums, The Great Order and Pearls that feel as if the listener is within the environment where the music is being created.

The Source will be released on June 30th, 2015.

More on Cory Allen’s previous albums that I have reviewed can be found here.

CA Source LP

The vinyl version of The Source–beautiful color!

****

This is a solicited review.


Drummassage

Drummassage cover

CD: 68bpm 001  Time: 41:26

Website: http://drummassage.com/ (Purchase option links at website will be “live” as of 4/28/15)

Tracks: Chimes (Intro), 68BPM, Interlude, Rolls, Heartbeat I, Chimes Coda, Heartbeat II

Performed by Phil Didlake, Leah Gramsjohnson, Isabella Iatarola, Tessa Kaslewicz, Ben Meyers, Clara Natonabah and Steve Wilkes, with support from the Berklee College of Music.  Field recordings from the Hear Cape Cod project

****

Something a bit different from our standard music review…what is known as “functional music.”

Whether by means of self-hypnosis, meditation (such as TM) or other approaches, there is a point where the body and mind can achieve a surprising state of awareness in the midst of a deep calm.  Along with others, Dr. Herbert Benson used the term The Relaxation Response to describe a multi-step process for achieving this state.  One method to assist with relaxation is by using various forms of music.  I can attest anecdotally to the healing and calming powers of certain forms of music.

The Drummassage album is an outgrowth of a project started by Steve Wilkes (a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts).  Some may recall that Steve Wilkes and Ginny Fordham brought us their Hear Cape Cod project in 2013, a set of field recordings accompanied with remixes by many well-known ambient and experimental musicians as well as a companion album of songs inspired by Cape Cod (another in that series will be released later in 2015).

Drummassage started as an informal gathering and exploration of the possible healing and calming power of drums and drumming at Wilkes’s Berklee studio (an aside: Berklee offers various degrees and concentrations in music therapy).  As work advanced on the project and became better known, performances were held at venues around the Berklee community for larger groups with participants placed within drum circles along with the percussionists.  Native American drums made with indigenous woods of various types in Wilkes’s collection are used in these recordings.  Instrumentation is all-acoustic, and the performances include quiet repetitive and low frequency rhythms with occasional counterpoint from other ambient percussion.

Drummassage 31314

This first recording is in stereo (two channel) with the ultimate goal to produce additional recordings using surround-sound 5.1 mixes to more accurately replicate the experience of participating in the actual performances and therapy sessions.  The stereo version is quite effective and Wilkes recommends using either a high quality audio system or headphones to obtain the best sonic results.

Since I have experience with inducing the relaxation response from having practiced self-hypnosis for many years (although not nearly as often as I should!), I can confirm that this stereo recording is quite effective.  Often, I found the greatest relaxation being achieved (surprisingly) during the more active rhythm sections.  Frequently, I lost a sense of time and either drifted to a deeper meditative state, off to sleep (which is permitted!) or found myself relating visual memories to the sounds during to the interludes (which have field recording excerpts).

 

The CD has a brief spoken-word introduction mixed with resonant wind chimes.  There are three sections (68BPM, Heartbeat I and Heartbeat II) of extended slow muted trance-inducing rhythmic drumming (these will be especially effective if the listener’s sound system also includes a sub-woofer).  Interlude is a brief rain shower with thunder, followed by Rolls, a series of building thundering washes (reminiscent of a passing storm).  Outdoor sounds (chirping evening insects) return just before Heartbeat I begins.

 

Heartbeat I builds slowly, first a simple three beats and rest, then a layer of triplets is added to create a pulsing that is later supplemented with what sounds like rain-sticks before diminishing to the straight beat.  The last interlude, Chimes Coda passes through with a gentle mix of environmental recordings.  The final session, Heartbeat II, reintroduces the foundational three beat and rest pattern, which transforms again into a series of three triplets and a diddle (percussion rudiment term, two struck notes in succession instead of three).  Periodically shaken percussion is added.  For those who haven’t intentionally tried to induce a relaxation response before, it’s quite an unexpectedly pleasurable and invigorating experience (and can be habit-forming too).  It can also improve one’s sense of awareness following a session.

There will be a CD release event and performance at 7PM on April 28, 2015 at The Red Room @ 939, in Boston, Massachusetts located at 939 Boylston Street.

Drummassage

This is a solicited review.


Twigs & Yarn – Still Forms Drift

T&Y wajobu

Eilean Rec 88 CD Time: 40:53

Label: https://eileanrec.bandcamp.com/album/still-forms-drift and http://www.eilean-records.com/

More on Twigs & Yarn: http://www.twigsandyarn.net/

Tracks: Hibernate, Sonora, Channeling, Cave Bears, In the Valley, Lend a Hand, Laelaps, Floes

Lauren McMurray and Stephen Orsak are Twigs & Yarn, and on their previous album (The Language of Flowers, my favorite album of 2012), the duo created it over a great distance (between Japan and Texas).  Their work presses all the right buttons for me: it’s inventive, tender, melodic, and at times unexpected.  T&Y takes me on a new journey every time I listen, yet there’s an inexplicable familiarity that I find comforting.  There is also a curious child-like quality of discovery in the music.

On April 5th, 2015, Twigs & Yarn did a live segment on KOOP Radio in Austin, Texas that was (thankfully) streamed over the internet, and T&Y noted they hope to release another album later in 2015.  I will link to the recording of the program if it is posted by KOOP (EDIT: Here is the link to the entire program: https://www.mixcloud.com/fadetoyellow/episode-164-fade-to-yellow-still-forms-drift/).

Over the course of their new album, Still Forms Drift I wonder if there is an intentional arc of how the pieces were developed.  I detect that the tracks move from more melodic to experimental, and from rhythmic to more atmospheric and subdued, so there is a nice combination of moods and progression on the album.

 

A layered sonorous hum opens and eases the listener into Hibernate; sounds eddy between the channels (headphone or speakers).  The music builds gradually and blends into a delicate yet immersive fabric where voices and distant cloaked sounds are revealed.  Sonora is absolute magic—so romantic, delicately rhythmic, playful and with a hint of some of Raymond Scott’s electronic experiments of the 1950s and 60s.  As it progresses, there is increasing comfort, dissolving enmeshed sound, then melodic humming.  Exploring the layers, with repeated listens is like a treasure hunt, but then just listen again and disappear into it.  It’s like a tender and pleasurable whisper during a dream.

Channeling moves to the outdoors, contemplating with the fauna and environs, then dissolving into a trance of gentle guitar, voices and comforting pulses.  Gradually, the reverie subsides and a gentle reality emerges.  Cave Bears opens a bit like an antique bell-chime clock, steady and somewhat glitchy.  Beats, shifted repeating sounds and guitar harmonics are added and the rhythm slows.  In The Valley is another memory of place, although more ambient and disconnected compared to Channeling.  There is a slight grittiness to it as it progresses, with sounds that are less tangible, as in the edge of a dream.  Lend a Hand is a song with two different parallel veiled spirits; an expression of yearning that moves in and out of focus…one voice moves to the distance, but then returns; as if eavesdropping on a one-sided conversation weaving in and out of gentle waves of guitar and entwined low resonant hums…a slowly rocking boat in the doldrums.

 

Perhaps the most meditative (and curiously metallic) of the pieces is Laelaps.  I speculate that it’s an evening of lying on the ground outdoors with gazes cast to the sky in contemplationIf I have my Greek mythology correct, it was Zeus who cast the dog Laelaps into the stars as Canis Major in pursuit of the Teumessian fox, Canis Minor.  With a largo of synthetic electronic sounds and somewhat compressed voices Floes closes the album with hints of a lullaby reminiscent of a well-worn music box.

There is so much wonderful in this album, and I was instantly smitten.

T&Y 88

****

This is a solicited review.


Current Listening

AWVFTS SW MO RG MG

Yes, I’m guilty.  I haven’t written many reviews of late–no other excuse except that there are many other things going on (not to mention a really rough winter), but here’s some of what I’ve been listening to, and I will also soon be writing a review of a forthcoming album on the Eilean label by Twigs & Yarn (some may recall that their The Language of Flowers on the Flau label was my favorite album of 2012).  I recommend any of these albums.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen – ATOMOS: Kranky 190: I want to really like this album, but I struggle with some sections.  I instantly loved their eponymous first release, but I continue to listen.

Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.: KScope 315: Follow-up to The Raven That Refused To Sing, and I frankly need more time with this album to formulate an opinion.  The recording lacks the clarity and strength of the last (engineered by Alan Parsons), but I’m working through it.

M. Ostermeier – Still: Tench TCH07: Just started listening; minimal, soothing, and it is both in the background and can be for focused listening–a combination of melodic sounds and microtones.  Helpful for calm…need more of that!

Robin Guthrie & Mark Gardener – Universal Road: Soleil Apres Minuit SM1501 CD: Comfortably familiar sound and soothing lyrics–shoegazing for the Sun.

I’ll likely have more to say on these soon, but for now, rest assured that my recommendation will not disappoint.

I’m hoping for Spring, and SOON!


Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer at Spectrum NYC

Taylor Marcus Spectrum NYC

More on Taylor Deupree and 12k: http://12k.com/

More on Marcus Fischer: http://www.mapmap.ch/

Compared to many, I am a relative latecomer to works on the 12k label (within the last 5 or 6 years), but I have listened to experimental, acoustic/electronic and improvised musical works for decades.  Having missed other recent chances to see artists’ work that I admire in a live setting, I was quite pleased that the stars aligned last night to see Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer perform in an intimate and comfortable setting at the Spectrum NYC on Ludlow Street in Manhattan as the final part of The Cellar and Point Presents series.  My elder son also came along–it was nice to share the event with him.

The type of work I do often involves long spans of time between inspiration and tangible result, months and frequently years.  So, being able to witness creativity translated into a reality in a comparatively short interval is pleasantly stimulating.  Mostly I’ve seen it in jazz collaborations or rock music solos—taking a true creative risk and watching the outcome unfold and evolve (although the latter is often pre-scripted these days).

Taylor Spectrum NYCTaylor Deupree

Deupree’s own work I know primarily through his 12k label and I have reviewed a number of his label’s albums here, and Fischer’s with various collaborations and solo works on a number of labels including Tench, Kesh, Optic Echo, Flaming Pines, 12k as well as self-released.  Aside from their live performance with Corey Fuller, Tomoyoshi Date and Simon Scott on the 12k CD Between, Deupree and Fischer also collaborated on a studio project in 2011 entitled In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes (and I was VERY fortunate to find the gorgeous original limited edition release thanks to a referral from Marcus Fischer who spotted a lone remaining copy at Beacon Sound in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago).

I’ve been trying to find the text source, but I recall Taylor Deupree advocating that musicians of electronic or experimental works avoid using their laptop computers as primary music generators at performances, recommending artists create sound in the moment via other methods, rather than playing prerecorded sequenced works.  Live performances need not be perfect, and sometimes fascinating things come out of failure or happenstance.  Last night’s performance lasted a bit more than an hour (audio and video were recorded by Joseph Branciforte of The Cellar and Point), and was a sonic journey that could have fallen unexpectedly to quirks of some rather complicated equipment set-ups (see photos below), but the back-up plans in place were not needed at all.

Marcus Spectrum NYCMarcus Fischer

Initially, Deupree and Fischer spent about 15 or 20 minutes recording and layering sounds and textures loosely reminiscent of Graceful Shapes with percussion, melodic instruments, bows and various effects before branching off and working, more or less, independently of each other yet still curiously bound together.  At about 40 minutes, both added new sounds and effects to take the performance into an alternate realm (Deupree being somewhat freer in applying contrasting textures).

Taylor EquipTaylor Deupree’s Equipment

After the opening, Deupree’s sound creation and processing were primarily via electronic means, adding sounds from his modular synthesizer and shifting resonances between the channels of Spectrum’s surround-sound system.  Whereas Fischer used largely acoustic instrumentation, plucking strings, bowing (actual bow and E-bow), tuning forks and other objects to add layers and textures.  Before long, sounds that started as staccato percussives sounded more like fluid, perhaps akin to an ocean or at a shore, and light breezes mixed with occasional Manhattan street noises (the happenstance).

Fischer, who also works with tape loops (such as his recording At Frame) had a vintage tape recorder with an expanded trapezoid of magnetic tape stretched between microphone stands to supplement the fabric of sound.  Fischer would at times modulate pitch by physically moving the tape (also, watching the tape splice pass across the stands was rather hypnotic).  Only occasional glances between Deupree and Fischer occurred as the piece developed, no words exchanged, just the sounds they created that filled the space.  At an appointed moment, Fischer snipped the tape loop, it unraveled, and the music gradually faded into the night.

Marcus EquipMarcus Fischer’s Equipment

It was an inspiring and soothing diversion from the realities that compete for space in an overly active mind, and Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer’s performance gives me hope that in an age where ceaseless media, noise, and clamoring for wealth and power dominates many of our collective daily experiences, it is possible to remain true to a more peaceful and well-crafted vision while remaining spontaneous and creative in a quiet timelessness.

****

A couple of pre-show photographs by jotabu

marcus1Marcus Fischer Pre-Performance Set-up

marcus setupMarcus Fischer’s Equipment Close-up


Marsen Jules – Sinfonietta

MJSinfonietta

CD DR-28 – Time: 45:56 (Limited Edition of 100 and Deluxe Edition of 100)

Dronarivm – http://dronarivm.com/2014/11/21/marsen-jules-sinfonietta/ & http://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/sinfonietta

Almost two years ago The Endless Change of Colour (12k1074) presented a peaceful timelessness borne from a phrase on a jazz record split into three stems disguised as something entirely different.  The resulting single movement instrumental work was grounded in a calming earthiness.

Sinfonietta is similar in form, although in contrast it’s loosely held to the bounds of sonic gravity.  From the opening, the music phrases materialize definitively then ease in gently to create a feeling of gazing over what could be a familiar realm below with the observer being gently suspended and the vision staying just beyond reach.  Recurrent themes occupy a somewhat narrower range of sound and emotion compared to TECOC, yet there are no detectable patterns and the entire work is elegantly devoid of monotony.  Periodically, slower flowing waves materialize and vanish gracefully, like evaporating clouds, a languid aurora or another vision from the imagination.

Even with a seemingly minimal palette, Marsen Jules (the nom de plume of Martin Juhls) cleverly interlaces and produces three dimensional visualizations in sound.  Listening to Sinfonietta, I feel as if I am serenely traveling in space, perhaps orbiting the Earth (or another as yet undiscovered planet) and marveling at the sights from my comfortable observation craft where I am quite content to remain.

Happy traveling.

 

This is a solicited review.


My Favorites of 2014

2014 has been a year when I’ve been relatively quiet on reviews, but I have been listening to many things, and I was very fortunate to attend some fabulous concerts that I’ve documented here with brief write-ups and photos (no photos of King Crimson!).  I’ve also been focused on other things, including making noise with some guitars.  As in the past, my listening is concentrated on what’s available to me, which is relatively narrow in scope, but I do listen to a pretty wide array of music.

This is my list of 14 favorites for 2014 (in no particular order) and then a few special categories.  Each title on the list links to the artist or record label website.  Happy Listening and I hope you all have a nice Holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.  Thank you for reading in 2014!

Albums

Sturgill

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

 

n'monix cover

Nick Magnus – n’monix

Northlands

Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre – Northwinds

Should WM 38

Should – The Great Pretend

Kosloff

Hallock Hill – Kosloff Mansion (My review was somewhat unconventional in interpretation–a really nice album).

Gareth Dickson

Gareth Dickson – Invisible String (a compilation of recent live recordings)

HGM

Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers

SH Royal Albert

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2CD/DVD (a fabulous live album & DVD with excellent sound quality!)

12k2031

Stephen Vitiello + Taylor Deupree – Captiva (double 10” LP)

MSMW

Medeski Scofield Martin Wood – Juice

Ben Watt

Ben Watt – Hendra

Beck

Beck – Morning Phase

Levin Bros

Levin Brothers – Levin Brothers (It’s only taken decades, but the Levin brothers got together and made a really marvelous jazz album)

Rosanne-Cash-The-River-The-Thread-300x300

Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread

Soundtrack

Blizzard

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd – White Bird in a Blizzard

Boxed Sets

ANTHONY PHILLIPS

Anthony Phillips – Harvest of the Heart (Anthology Boxed Set): Unlike the recent R-kive Genesis box set, Cherry Red knows how to put together a proper anthology, complete with many tracks of never-before heard music from AP’s archives.

Songs Ohia

Jason Molina – Songs: Ohia – Journey On (7” 45 RPM Compilation Box Set, a really beautiful set, probably rarer than hen’s teeth by now.)

KC Elements

King Crimson – The Elements (Tour Box, archive, live and some new material as a companion to the 2014 US Tour)

Reissues (Vinyl)

ERP

East River Pipe – The Gasoline Age (vinyl reissue, my introduction to the brilliant songs of F. M. Cornog when it was first released on CD in the early 1990s)

Lambcop XX

Lambchop – Live at XX Merge (I’m so happy that Merge Records decided to release this in honor of their 25th Anniversary.  Looks like the LP is out of print for the moment.)

EPs

William Tyler Lost Colony

William Tyler – Lost Colony

Olan Mill Half Seas Over

Olan Mill – Half Seas Over (Live performances 2012-2014)…too short for an album, too long for an EP, but what the heck!

An Accidental Concert Photo

SH