Archive for August, 2008

Nils Bultmann – “Terminally Unique”

August 9, 2008

I like the aim of this album, and I like its relative simplicity. For “Terminally Unique,” Nils Bultmann constructs an independent track (partly from improvisation and partly in Pro Tools) for each line of a short poem. Bultmann, playing viola on the majority of songs, is joined by Roscoe Mitchell for a handful of tracks– most noteably on “the madness,” where he provides a dark saxophone bed for Bultmann’s viola and Parry Karp’s cello can become increasingly paranoid. Paddy Cassidy’s contribution to the track, his sole appearance on “Terminally Unique,” is a memorable djembe counterpoint with an unusual finish.

Bultmann seems willing to adapt new methods in order to conjure the appropriate mood, though the process can occasionally yield uneven results. “Marched Upward,” begins with a rather obvious martial flavor, and some heavy-handed keyboard technique. However, Bultmann’s introduction of Wurlitzer organ changes this track immensely. What was previously quite predictable quickly shifts into something more interestingly surreal, with dissonant held tones and fluttering arpeggio lines.

More exciting for me are Bultmann’s varied use of field recordings. “Again” makes fine use of a spinning coin, and “Reverently” fuses an indistinct sermon with Bultmann and Mitchell’s slow pas de deux on viola and flute. This all flows very well into “the pulsing,” an apt description of the tremolo effect employed here, as well as the general push-pull of one line into the next. In contrast, “Primal” is crude and blunt– it has a place, but thankfully not a focal one, in this album.

In all, “Terminally Unique” is a much more enjoyable album than I would have initially guessed. In truth, I don’t often feel that I connect well with program music, so I’m pleased to have found so many instances where that feeling subsided and I could just take it in. I would have liked to hear more in the way of extended techniques and greater use of field recordings throughout, with the caveat that they step too far from Bultmann’s evocative playing.

“Terminally Unique” is available as release 17530 on the Mutable Music label.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/9/08

August 9, 2008

As Kleeer would say, “tonight’s the night.” Or the morning– whatever. Daniel Godston and Eric Glick Rieman are scheduled for a live set on the show, live from the Hi-Life Room. I’m pretty excited about this, and just hope it all goes well without any technical issues. I got into the studio a bit early, so I’m kicking off a three-and-a-half hour broadcast. Live sets are great, but I like playing albums too!

A hanger-on from Sweet Action had a very hard time believing Hong Chulki’s contribution to this show wasn’t the result of “porcelain.” Not sure what that means, exactly…

Still getting my end of the equipment set up. Three mics available, hopefully this will suffice. I’ve got to find some tape, so I can mark their channels now. It gets confusing! Here’s something from the Zelphabet series, off the “B” volume.

Dan Godston and Eric Glick Rieman have arrived– got lost a bit, and drove into Marion! They’re setting up now… there’s going to be a lot for me to reset around here after they pack up! No biggie, I’m more interested in the deconstructed Rhodes, which is VERY strange-looking.

WOW. Rieman and Godston have got one hell of a sound. We had a couple of avian guests arrive to fly around Godston’s head… I guess that covers their stated goal of working with “non-human animals,” eh? I ended up shooing them out with the help of some couch pillows, and they both made it safely back outdoors. Hope the photos turn out! We have an odd monitoring situation here at the station. They’re essentially forced to use a couple radios for monitors, and somewhat rely on the drift of sound outward from master control to help Godston know what Rieman is doing.

BTW, I learned I’ve been pronouncing his name wrong– Rieman is said “Ray-Man,” which I would have never guessed.

I have video, photos, and (hopefully) a decent audio recording of this session. I’ll be sharing all of this later on, but give me a couple days to relax before I tear into the various files. Until then, enjoy the next couple reviews– the secret is scheduling them ahead of time, haha.

Hong Chulki — Turntable, Without Cartridge 1
Hong Chulki — Turntable, Without Cartridge 2
Hong Chulki — Turntable, Without Cartridge 3
Ophibre — Music for .aiff & Magnetic Tape
Bob Bellerue — Fridge Tower
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — How Light, A Potato Chip
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — The Distance That Separates Dreams
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — Spicule Maneuver
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — Worm Anvils
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — Shallow Weather
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — Lucy Has a New Pet Kitty
Dalaba, Frith, Glick Rieman, Kihlstedt — Ant Farm Morning
Thanos Chrysakis, Dario Bernal Villegas, Oli Mayne — Terse Symmetry
Daniel Godston, Eric Glick Rieman — LIVE @ “IT’S TOO DAMN EARLY”, WDBX-FM

Experimental music on video Friday

August 8, 2008

I need a more catchy name for this feature, if it’s going to be a regular Friday thing… got any suggestions?

Here’s a few videos, pre-washed, and ready for consumption. The first is Sabrina Meyer, in a 2007 performance of a John Cage work. Fun use of editing, too.

Here’s the first half of Christian Marclay’s “Guitar Drag,” which I played at least a couple times on my first radio show:

This video should have been longer… the organ had some more to say.

I like Nam June Paik’s work, or what I’ve seen of it, at any rate. It’s sad that I’d never have been able to see many of his videos if it was not for services like YouTube.

Ophibre/Adam Sonderberg – split cassette [oph10]

August 8, 2008

This is the sort of cassette that wins you over through brute force. With roughly 30 minutes allotted each, Ophibre and Adam Sonderberg choose to split this release with a pair of challengingly minimalist works.

This photo shows both sides of the cassette release using two copies, it is NOT a dual-cassette.

This photo shows both sides of the cassette release using two copies, it is NOT a dual-cassette.

For his contribution, “Untitled Music for .aiff & Magnetic Tape,” Ophibre joins a repeating loop of ringing sound with highlighted format constraints of cassette recording. In order to bring the latter elements into focus, Ophibre slowly allows differently-pitched notes into the overall mix. At times, the effect is similar to an out-of-tune miniature cacophony of bowed glass; in other moments, like a rippling organ. Eventually, a continuous stream of treated piano bubbles up, cascading through the tape hiss. Ophibre has a true talent for making a lot out of a little, and even those listeners unwilling to indulge in some of his more noisy experiments should be able to enjoy this side– think of a more ragged, young Terry Riley, and you’d be in the ballpark.

And hey, if you’re digging a piece where magnetic tape is a featured player, don’t make the mistake of fast-forwarding through the final five minutes or so– yes, it’s “just” hiss– but haven’t we gotten past the whole noise/music thing?

Sonderberg’s piece, “Untitled Music for Bell & Sine Tone,” is where the “brute force” bit really comes into play. Sonderberg, a Con-V and Crouton label ‘graduate’, goes the LaMonte Young route; putting a sine wave and a bell into a room where they can duke it out. And why shouldn’t he? With Young having effectively taken his work out of the public sphere, Sonderberg rightly takes up what are some seriously interesting threads. For intrepid listeners willing to deal with a single bell and a plain-jane waveform for a half-hour, this is a very rewarding listen.

With the bell pealing at the human version of regular intervals, against a continuous sine of all things, a mother-lode of standing waves and beating rhythms begin to appear. Headphone listeners might find their sinuses draining– I’m recommending this one for your big stereo speakers. Lovely stuff, but only for those willing to go the distance.

The Ophibre/Adam Sonderberg split cassette is available on the Ophibre label as release oph10.

Can I ask for a favor?

August 7, 2008

My regional newspaper (The Southern Illinoisian) has a short article this week, highlighting the upcoming Dan Godston/Eric Glick Rieman performance on my radio show. They put it in their weekly entertainment pullout, but it will only be new information for folks who don’t read STARTLING MONIKER.

I think we can do better.

How about sending The Southern an e-mail, and see if they’ll give me a feature? Maybe a little groundswell would get things rolling. If you’re feeling generous, write to Cara Racine, Features Editor.

Thank you so much– this means a lot to me!

Sin:Ned, Nerve – “Ghost Feeding Vessel” 鬼餓施舟

August 7, 2008

Originally composed and performed live as part of a larger performance entitled “Ritual for the Ghosts,” Hong Kong artists Sin:Ned and Nerve’s “Ghost Feeding Vessel” is a document of ritualised sound action aimed at communicating with (and about) the deceased. Whether Sin:Ned or Nerve would deem their efforts a success, the appropriate atmosphere is most definitely conjured– a serene series of bell calls puncture the calm at its opening, leading to an increasing flood of haphazard messages forced through from what sounds like worlds beyond.

A striking number of sounds are employed in this venture, and in far too many ways for the listener to determine precisely who is generating them, which perhaps leaves us the option to hear some sounds as not being generated by Sin:Ned or Nerve. Of particular interest to me are the bells, which continually pierce even the most chaotic moments, providing an aural landmark to aid our return.

For a live document, “Ghost Feeding Vessel” is very well-produced, with a wonderfully spacial quality that will be appreciated by headphone listeners. I would have liked to hear more of the space itself, though my guess is that a recording of this quality was made directly, without access to site noise when creating this disc.

“Ghost Feeding Vessel” is available in a limited edition of 100 CDR copies from Lona Records.

Various – Zelphabet; volumes A, B, & C

August 6, 2008

Zelphabet A, B, and C are the first three compilations of challenging and strange music in GX Jupitter-Larsen’s 27-part subscription CD series. “Twenty-seven,” you ask? Yep, there’s an extra letter that Jupitter-Larsen has appended to the common alphabet, specifically for this series– naturally, it’s only available to those who subscribe to the full series, rather than purchasing individual discs. At $200, this works out to something like $7 a disc– not a bad deal, especially for our overseas friends recently enjoying kick-ass purchasing power. Perhaps some fine Englishman will share his economic fortune with a poor reviewer?

All money aside, the Zelphabet series is a great idea. As a noise scene pioneer, Jupitter-Larsen has an opportunity to play elder statesman, and present a handful of worthwhile artists with each disc. It’s like the “Rrrecycled” tapes, but done with some class, and considerable more attention to quality.

Straight out the gate, Zelphabet “A” gives listeners two things that have defined each disc thus far– something new, and something that you’re astounded to find on a compilation. For “A,” I’m getting my first aural encounters with Achim Wollscheid, who has done a great number of fascinating sound and light installations throughout the world. A good compilation not only gathers music of similar intent or style, but it will inform listeners as well. Wollscheid’s “3 Transformations for Xylophone” is not the foot I was expecting a member of The Haters to put forward first, but it’s useful and sets the tone nicely.

As for the “astounding” portion, how about a recording each from Arcane Device and Asmus Tietchens? Either one of these artists would have been enough to seal the deal! For his contribution, David Lee Myers turns over a remix of unreleased Arcane Device material created from 1987 to 1993, the fruits of which would be realized more recently in Toshimaru Nakamura‘s no-input mixing board work. Quiet music fans, behold the noise from which you have sprung!

Let’s move on to Zelphabet “B”– Jupitter-Larsen covers one big base of this four-way split with a cut from Bob Bellerue (AKA, Redglaer), previous head at LA’s infamous “Il Corral” space. For his portion, “Fridge Tower,” Bellerue presents a richly-detailed soundscape of humming and cracking motor-whine noises. It’s easily my favorite of the bunch, though Blackhumour‘s “and do what/control” gets points for sheer audacity… nearly 19 minutes of verbal fragments endlessly repeating, with little more than stereo pans to change things up! If there’s a concept for this track, I’m not finding it. On a more positive note, I’ve finally had a chance to hear 16 Bitch Pile-Up, and I’m glad to say that it was worth the wait. “No Burden, No Guilt” is a bit more along the lines of what I was initially expecting from these compilations– rough, ear-chewing noise– and totally makes the “B” disc worth a listen, along with the Bellerue material.

(Totally off-track: As I write this, I’m managing a humorous thread at BlogCatalog entitled “I Will Say Horrible Non-Constructive Things About Your Blog,” as a means to generate new readers for STARTLING MONIKER. It’s getting increasingly hard to shift between the mode of “objective reviewer” and “ridiculous insult machine.” The things I do for you!)

Zelphabet “C” starts off strong with an 11-minute extract from a 1974 Charlemagne Palestine performance. Palestine is one of the last people I’d expect to find on a noise compilation, but I’m seeing again and again that my concept of what this series “should be” is being challenged, and this process has been interesting. I suppose I find myself listening to Palestine in much the same way, seeking the neglected detail in a larger sea; but I don’t get as much of a sense of helplessness for eventually understanding the totality of it that I get from something more noisy.

After the 11 minutes are up, “C” drops listeners into Chop Shop’s swirling noise-storm of metallic grinding and overdriven generator bursts, “Retrofit.” Scott Konzelmann’s speakers definitely get a workout here, taking up nearly half the disc. But this is really the kind of stuff I want to hear– veteran noise artists with some thought and experience behind what they’re doing, capable of pulling off an extended and detailed piece without relying so much on effect-pedal kitsch. “Retrofit” reminds me alternately of a low-key Daniel Menche, John Hudak, or Francisco Lopez… definitely good company, in my esteem. Be sure to click through on the Chop Shop link; Generator Sound Art is Konzelmann and Gen Ken Montgomery’s label, so there’s a load of great recordings to be had there.

A 15-minute synth bloop-fest closes out “C,” maybe a bit longish for my taste, but somewhat interesting. Personally, I could have gone for more of Contagious Orgasm‘s “Heart Station,” a surreal blend of Japanese culture reportage and disorienting noises.

So far, the Zelphabet series is really exciting stuff, and well-worth the investment for any noise fan serious about getting to know the previous generation or two of artists. Jupitter-Larsen’s apt curatorship beats file-sharing any day, so I’m highly recommending that you get in on this set before its gone.

The Zelphabet series is available through GX Jupitter-Larsen directly, at the Zelphabet site.

Lazer Mountain/Wether – Untitled split CDR

August 5, 2008

An uneven split from Nail in the Coffin Records featuring East Coast solo noise artist Mike Hailey (Wether), and NITCO head Jorge Tapia’s own four-piece Lazer Mountain presenting one track apiece, plus one remix of each other’s contribition.

Wether opens the disc, clocking more than half its total length with a self-titled blast of ugly and overdriven noise. Across the handful of Wether releases I’ve managed to acquire, Hailey has displayed a real talent for maximizing the volume, and it’s no different here. An early morning headphone listen was a poor choice for me; I really should have known better– Hailey had me leaping for the volume control.

A bit of singed ear later, Lazer Mountain arrive with a fairly straight-forward rock-type track about a transvestite. As you surely know, I’m not big into this kind of thing. At any rate, I didn’t have to wait long to satisfy my curiosity about how Wether would mangle it.

Now here’s something worth listening to! Hailey constructs a glassy prism from Bill Harris’s drums, a fit prison for Nick Mielke’s now-shredded vox to bounce around in. The rhythm also seems to have a bit more punch to it, falling in with a crash after a lengthy looped cymbal figure.

I’m not sure what the heck Lazer Mountain did for their remix. There’s an awful racket to be sure, but it doesn’t remind me much of Wether’s track at all. How one goes about remixing a noise track, I can’t be certain, but I was hoping Lazer Mountain would have known. Instead; there’s tinkling keyboards, 70’s funk samples, and some noodley bass– some lyrics about a “scorpion in the sunset” close out the track. Huh?

This disc is a bit rocky, but if you dig Wether (and I do) it might be worth picking up to round out a collection. If anything, pick up a copy for Tapia’s superb album art– eyeburning fluorescent colors combined with some sort of unreadable alpha-code… if only all my discs looked this cool!

As number 41 in their catalog, this untitled split CDR is available through Nail in the Coffin Records.

Pink Desert – “They Rose Up With the Sun”

August 5, 2008

Quality drone from a duo who, like all too many artists in the free-folk/drone arena, want to stay relatively unknown. With two webpages featuring little more than a single graphic apiece, and a barren MySpace profile mirroring one of the graphics, this reviewer doesn’t have much background to give you on Pink Desert.

I know this much– at some point in time during the summer of 2006, PD went “home” and recorded “They Rose Up With the Sun.” For some reason, the Pennsylvanians decided to release it on Nail in the Coffin Records, an Illinois label. NITCO gave it the full treatment, with lovely golden screen-printed cover art; flowing psychedelic cloud-people to match the foggy environment conjured throughout the three tracks of “They Rose Up With the Sun.”

There’s a lot of pedal effect-work here, nothing that Terrastock-goers would be tremendously shocked by, but at least Pink Desert does it well. Sounds aren’t allowed to linger too long before being washed back into the general tide, with a cyclical birth/death image easily coming to mind even during the first cut. Some sort of rattling (fire? box of sticks? small rocks?) also makes an appearance, so it’s nice to hear something beyond the guitars-on-our-laps approach.

The big feature is the second track, with Pink Desert laying the majority of their eggs in this 21-minute basket. It’s a pretty bold gamble for the album, and ultimately isn’t strong enough to merit its length. Pink Desert get some good atmosphere going, but don’t seem to have a whole lot of direction. Better production might have yielded a lot more of the interesting spacial sounds that occur during recording, which would have contributed greatly toward my own enjoyment.

Regardless, I’ll be keeping Pink Desert in the back of my mind. There’s some goodness to this disc, more than enough to merit checking out some of their more current material for comparison.

“They Rose Up With the Sun” is available on Nail in the Coffin Records.

Chica X – “The Dead Yard”

August 5, 2008

So I’m reviewing a CD from an eight year-old girl, probably recorded way back in her career when she was six. Obviously, I can’t be too serious here– besides, we share a last name– I’m already compromised.

Chica X, fronted by gregarious kiddo Xiola Tapia, combines Tapia’s eager vocals with the cracked production and instrumental talents of her label-boss and father, Jorge Tapia. I could get more detailed, but the liner notes are written in bubble letters. See my predicament?

Whatever, it’s catchy stuff. “Let You Go” might be able to sneak on a ‘B-sides and rarities’ type Pixies boot, and “How To Get Down” is absolutely begging for a dub remix. This is weird on the order of Missy Elliot, seriously.

It’s a lot of fun, and an enjoyable listen. Still, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not much more than ten minutes long. As with every Nail in the Coffin release, this CDR comes wrapped in some fantastic artwork. For “The Dead Yard,” nothing but the finest winged zebras frolicking in a Carebear/Rorschach test will suffice.

“The Dead Yard” is available from Nail in the Coffin Records.

Daniel Godston, Eric Glick Rieman live guests on “ITDE”

August 4, 2008

I just confirmed Daniel Godston and Eric Glick Rieman as live guests on my upcoming broadcast, this August 9th– obviously you’re going to want to tune in.

With guidance provided by a graphic score co-composed by a trio of garden snails, Rieman and Godston will be improvising on  deconstructed/reconstructed Rhodes piano, trumpet, and “small instruments”. If you’re in the area, I welcome you to drop by the station.

Please be aware that I may attempt to draft you to take us all out for breakfast afterward, so bring your wallet.

This is going to be a fantastic broadcast, and I really don’t want you to miss a minute of it. Be sure to tune in this coming Saturday, from 4-6:30 AM, CST to catch the whole thing. Feel free to call in at: 618-457-3691 to show your support for experimental and improv music, and of course, for your favorite DJ.

Look below the fold for tour info:

(more…)

Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong – “Hum and Rattle”

August 4, 2008

From the Seoul-based Balloon & Needle label, “Hum and Rattle” features some of label head Hong Chulki and Choi Joonyong’s phenomenal turntable and opened CD player compositions. Advantageous use of noise bursts that could make Merzbow flinch, contrasted with periods of near (or total) silence make this an ideal album for headphone listening– especially in regards to the delicacy of Choi’s contributions, which comprise everything from the the faintest digital seek-sound, to full-blown read error exploding into unlikely patterns of bitrate-lacework.

For his end; Hong’s turntable tends toward the lower frequency (and possibly sans vinyl) approach to noisemaking. It’s DJ Q-Bert’s nightmare– needle drops, empty platters spinning against the tonearm, skipping one groove and proceeding to practically lathe-cut the next.

Fortunately, both Hong and Choi evidence a strong ability to not only play off one another’s sounds, but an enthusiasm for allowing both sounds and each other room to breathe. Openness is what sets “Hum and Rattle” apart from many other discs splashing about in similar waters. This approach is most easily heard on the second track, “u a”, something like an 11-minute act of digital call-and-response where one player is a void.

The album closes with a live recording made during a Relay free improvisation meeting. Although it naturally lacks the stereo dynamic that helps make the previous tracks as compelling, it’s nice to hear evidence that Hong and Choi do not rely on studio tricks for the generation of their sound. Rather, the turntables and CD players are treated as instruments in their own right, a much-mouthed but rarely-heard acclamation.

“Hum and Rattle” is attractively packaged in a simple folded-card sleeve, and is available from Balloon & Needle.

Cristopher Cichocki, Kevin Shields, Rale – Untitled split DVD-R

August 3, 2008

Here’s something you’re going to want to pick up, maybe right now. Seriously, come back and read the review afterward. Ready?

If so, you’ve got a fantastic little 3″ DVD-R winging its way to your mailbox right now. I use the word “fantastic” because Cristopher Cichocki’s video work simply kills, bringing new dimensions to noise that just didn’t seem to be there before. Watching his intricately-edited videos, which practically abuse your persistence of vision, is like discovering a new sense– suddenly, noise has real motion and form– it’s a tremendous accomplishment.

Of course, it helps when you’ve got good noise to work with; I don’t see Cichocki being able to redeem The Gerogerigegege anytime soon. Thankfully,  this is not the case; Kevin Shields and Rale fill out the audio portion of the disc quite nicely. For his part, “Motorhands,” Kevin Shields contrasts high-pitched tones with a pounding wall of static-embedded shuffles. I’m not sure how the sounds are being produced, but there are a lot of interesting subtle shifts in their overall timbre that are going to take me more than a few listens to truly catch. If you dig it, Shields may still have copies of the original vinyl boxset it appeared on, “Thrash Sabbatical,” with Thurston Moore. Feel free to pick one up for your favorite poor music reviewer as well!

The second half of the disc is “Tattered Syntax” by Rale, an artist I am unfamiliar with. Actually, I’m not even familiar with the handful of labels he’s released various cassettes with– it seems I’ll have an entertaining afternoon following up on these. As for his contribution, Rale just doesn’t let up. Massive crunching noises work over both ears, while something like a horde of angry turntables waits in line to finish the job. There are cracks in the wall, but nothing like a respite or lull. Rale is apparently a “buy the ticket, take the ride” kind of guy.

Packaged appropriately on a sharp slice of aluminum threatening to tear its way through the fragile vellum wrapper, this untitled split DVD-R is the first in the Table of Contents “Singles Series”. Not sure if these will all be DVD-R, but one can only hope. Brilliant stuff, and a must-have for noise and experimental film fans.

The Cichocki/Shields/Rale split is currently available through both the Table of Contents and Deathbomb Arc labels. (And hey, dig my interview with Cichocki from back in May!)

Gen Ken Montgomery – “Drilling Holes in the Wall”

August 2, 2008

From the Monochrome Vision label (in Russia, of all places) comes a collection of Gen Ken Montgomery works from 1986 to 1991. Montgomery’s prolific nature means it is by no means complete; but still invaluble for assembling disparate works now relatively unavailable, previously unreleased, or truncated in their original outing.

On this disc, Montgomery’s title track is the main feature. Sourced completely from a modified Casio MS-10 keyboard, Montgomery wrings a breathtaking variety of sounds from this miniature machine. Originally presented as an eight-channel concert, “Drilling Holes in the Walls” does not let listeners down. If anything, more current electronics artists should be ashamed for the paucity of their work, given the ubiquitous nature of enormously-powerful synthesizers at their disposal today!

“New Age Machines,” now apparently complete for the first time due to the inclusion of an additonal ten minutes, harkens to the classic days of electroacoustic music. Conjuring visions of the INA-GRM, Montgomery proceeds to flesh out a science fiction machine of epic proportions– or as my daughter puts it, “something like technology, and critters, and maybe two trashcan lids banging?”

As consistently holds true with any of Montgomery’s works, it is the listener’s willingness and enthusiasm for sound that will make or break its perceived value. Take “Icebreaker,” for instance. As one of Montgomery’s favorite noise-makers (along with various laminators), the ice-crusher commands our full attention, merrily rumbling and squeaking and crushing along– it’s something like the Wall-e of it’s day, I guess. These sounds are of interest to Montgomery, apparently right up there with any of the more commonly-cited natural sounds of interest: birds, rain, seashores, etc. Although increasingly processed into something more abstract, listeners should have a healthy appreciation for sound of all kinds before seeking this disc out.

Of particular interest to me, however, is the live cut “Don’t Bring Those Things.” Referencing Montgomery’s exasperation with East Berlin for denying entry to his homemade electronics (to the point that he was forced to borrow equipment for a live performance) the track is a lovely example of Montgomery’s aesthetic, unfiltered by the studio, and one of only a couple times I’ve heard his voice in a recording.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/2/08

August 2, 2008

Today’s show started out strong, and so far, I’m very happy with how it’s going. Playing from the Cichocki/Shields/Rale split DVD-R was difficult without a television available to help select the tracks, but I checked it out ahead of time– hooray for auto-play! BTW, a dedicated TV and DVD player are next on my WDBX wishlist, should anyone feel generous.

Right now, I’m doing the “Rothkamm-centric” portion of the show I promised a couple weeks back. Taking my queue from Rothkamm’s studio multitudes, I too will be harnessing the power of technology to thicken the mix– at present, I am mixing from three Rothkamm albums– I wonder how many instances of the man this has yielded?

I think the Rothkamm mix went very well. I may have mis-labeled a couple of the track names in the playlist, however. It gets a little hard juggling that many discs at once! For the record; I used FB01, FB02, FB03, LAX, Just 3 Organs, and Opus Spongebobicum to create the mix. At present, I’m playing Carl Stone’s “Kreutz” from Nak Won, on the Sonore label. I sent a friend to a video of this played live the other day, so I figured I’d go ahead and play the album version this week.

I’m digging the Warm Climate disc, “Circle Dub/Regrettable Form,” on Phantom Limb. It’s going to take a few more listens to fully get my thoughts worked out on it, though. It just came in with another, which I’ve not yet had time to check out– maybe I’ll have a review for you this coming week!

Say Bok Gwai — Not All Chinese Are Good At Math
Kevin Shields, Cristopher Cichocki — Motorhands
Rale, Cristopher Cichocki — Tattered Syntax
Gen Ken Montgomery — Don’t Bring Those Things, Live Erloserkirche 3/19/86
Gen Ken Montgomery — New Age Machines pt.1
Husht — The Glycolysis of an Insistent Bird
Rothkamm — B and B Plus 33
Rothkamm — Independent Bernoulli Trials
Rothkamm — Half Man, Half Amazing
Rothkamm — Outdoor Heritage of New Jersey
Rothkamm — Reality OR Room in Hollywood
Rothkamm — Opusspongebobicum, Variation 23
Rothkamm — Opusspongebobicum, Variation 10
Rothkamm — Incident Outside Mesquite
Rothkamm — Ancient Meats
Carl Stone — Kreutz
“Blue” Gene Tyranny — Somewhere in Arizona 1970
“Blue” Gene Tyranny — Somewhere in Search of Heaven, A.D. 999
“Blue” Gene Tyranny — Somewhere Inside the Red Circle
Warm Climate — Rehearsal Repulsive
Warm Climate — Terminal City/Warm Winter II/Backstabbing Waitress
Absolut Null Punkt — Absolute Magnitude 1
Amere3 — Hiba
Amere3 — Rauli

Experimental music on video

August 1, 2008

I’ve decided that Fridays at STARTLING MONIKER should feature a few interesting experimental music videos. I come across a lot of good ones during the course of the week, so it’s time I started sharing. Here’s three to kick it off:

The first is Ironing, performing live at Hal McGee’s first Apartment Music show. Ironing describes the atmosphere; “Went through his stereo for volume control, RSVP due to capacity issues, coffee and cake served. Recordings were made straight to CDR and all performers had a complete recording of the entire show before they left!”

Next up, Pamela Z performs “Metalvoice,” at The Kitchen in New York, October 2004. I’m still up in the air about my feelings on her performances– theatre has never been an interest of mine, and it’s obviously a crucial element of her work. On the other hand, I have a huge fascination with artists exploring extended vocal elements…

Speaking of extended vocal elements, here’s my go-to lady for the job, Joan La Barbara. Finding her associated with Sesame Street just made her even more super cool.

Husht – “Amber”

August 1, 2008

It’s always interesting, but occasionally embarrassing, to look back at our younger selves. Many things change– priorities, interests, our aesthetics; but checking on these can reveal a previously-unknown arc of our existence. Suddenly, the point of our present becomes a line joining moments over time.

It’s especially fun to do with musicians. When I got the chance to check out “Amber,” a 15-year-old tape recording that had been languishing in Andrew Chadwick/Ironing’s personal holdings, I was rather excited. The tape, recorded to boombox “in the wee hours of the morning” with Jim Tramontana, is a series of remarkable pieces both for their forward-looking sense of improvisation and the relatively low-tech means employed for the production. “Paul’s Very Exhausted Horse” for instance; features a variety of small electric guitar noises, a cracking patch cord, and every extended technique these two could muster for wringing sounds from both. I’m still wondering how the little hoofbeat rhythm was made!

There is a bit of repetition on this disc. “Morphogenesis” carries on for nearly 20 minutes, and for such a large piece, does a fair job of keeping it together. Laborious amp groaning and some electrical grounding problems present a pleasant ambience for Chadwick and Tramontana to nestle water and cow sounds within. An unexpected snippet of “The Star-Spangled Banner” drops in, something of the Ironing works I’m more familiar with. “Threads” starts in much the same manner, but doesn’t seem to find its footing as well as the previous track. After what may have been a short pause to re-group, the duo manage a little five-minute spell of something like the ryūteki in Japanese gagaku. Entrancing stuff, demanding of your attention.

As with all Hymns releases, “Amber” is attractively packaged in a heavyweight paper slip with insert. For this disc, however, Chadwick has gone to considerable trouble distressing the paper inserts with outdoor contaminents naturally stuck to the backside– now sandwiched between the paper and a prom photo (or something of the kind, anyway they’re all unique)– and finally, laminated for posterity. Fun stuff, this.

Husht’s “Amber” is available now through Hymns.