Sunday, April 19, 2015
VA AA LR - polis (Intonema)
Wherein our favorite initials-only trio (Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan, Louie Rice) take sounds from earlier installations, including the conversations of passersby and/or gallery goers, and place unexpected emphasis on rhythmic elements, albeit slow, even drippy ones.
We hear three pieces, each carrying a rhythm that persists more or less throughout. The first begins with sets of gloppy, electronic thuds of a sort, with a sharp attack and dull finish, irregular actually but giving a sense of pulse, soon interspersed with a repeated sounds like static being poured onto a table--interesting that last, imparting an oozing, liquid sense to a dry, prickly sound. The activity from the streets of Porto filters in; the voices are usually indistinct, though you can make out that it's Portuguese being spoken, parents with children, bohos, etc. But those initial elements drive the piece, some perhaps sourced from jacks being pulled, speaker frames vibrating, all arrayed in a loose rhythmic field, the static spill providing steadiness. Spare and juicy at the same time, very nice. On the second track, the rhythm is more blatant, a 2-2-1 sequence, super fuzz-laden, sounding as though unearthed from a death metal crypt, that worms its way through hammered beams and crowds, the odd buzz and bang incorporated along the way; again, good, unclean fun. The last track's rhythm is complicated, am intermingling of electronic pulses similar in character to those found on the opening piece, woven between quasi-rhythmic, burred tones that sound like a gigantic, rough-toothed saw being drawn through unforgiving wood. As before, you hear the public, in this case innocent children cavorting, blissfully unaware of the behemoth lurking around the corner. The beast unleashes a triumphant roar, bellowing like an apartment-sized double bass being assaulted by a 20 foot bow, the underlying forward chug still present and moves on, the population oblivious.
Good stuff, very different from standard fare, rather unique.
The Pitch - Frozen Orchestra (Amsterdam) (Sofa)
The Pitch is Boris Baltschun (electric pump organ), Koen Nutters (bass), Morten J Olsen (vibraphone) and Michael Thieke (clarinet), on this occasion (a live recording from 2012, issued on LP) joined by Lucio Capece (bass clarinet), Johnny Chang (violin), Robin Hayward (tuba), Chris Heenan (contrabass clarinet), Okkyung Lee (cello) and Valerio Tricoli (revox). The piece is a drone, I gather an improvised one to some degree, perhaps observing certain agreed upon parameters. I'm not sure why (and it's interesting--for me--to attempt to figure out) but I don't find myself particularly drawn in to this particular performance. I've little doubt that, in the live situation, it could be a substantially different story, with the strands flying around the space, being corporeally immersed. On disc, though, I'm never as riveted. The music, especially as powered by the organ I think, is fairly accessible and (multi)tonal with clear layers, entries and exits by the various instruments etc. as well as the odd percussive accident (intentional or an artifact of the space, I'm not sure). Maybe, despite all the churn, there's too much of a "one thing" aspect for me, some conflict between just sitting there and really just sitting there, a kind of insistence that seems at odds with the notion of droning. Who knows, perhaps that's the goal? As is, for this listener, it's ok, nothing too thought-provokng though, and not providing so much of lasting sustenance.
CH/DH - Egregore Source (Art Kill Art)
This is a program, comes in a nice little USB drive with good, helpful documentation. Essentially, you set parameters--many of them are available, all with sliders--and an interacting sound/visual file is generated. More often than not, you can easily see the relationship between what emerges from your speakers and what appears on the screen. It's pretty damned fascinating. I can imagine spending hours fiddling with this and have to wean myself off. It brought back memories of that mid-90s "Chaos" program, marketed under James Gleick's name. The video below (https://vimeo.com/122113072) if it doesn't work on the blog, gives you a better idea than I can about it.