May 2011 stuff

CHRONOMAD – Chronomad cdep – can’t recall how I first came across Chronomad, but it was quite likely whilst delving into the Notwist’s label catalogue a few years back. Reviewers seem to think that these days they operate in areas also familiar to Muslimgauze, Shackleton and Demdike Stare (see below). For this, the first of their three releases, a middle-Eastern influenced Pole might be as good a comparison point as any.

BELL, IRMLER, LIEBEZEIT, LIPPOK – Spielwiese 2 – limited album/cd on Klangbad. A live collaboration, and pretty much what you’d expect from the four talents on display. Nicely packaged but inessential listening that at times isn’t a million miles away from Liebezeit and Friedman’s Secret Rhythm albums – albeit more varied and rewarding than that flagging series has become.

MACHINEFABRIEK & STEPHEN VITIELLO – Birds In A Box – limited edition of 200. Swapping boxes of stuff (we can only guess what they contained) to bang, scrape and otherwise sonically manhandle, this is an exercise in textural listening, although the occasional wonky half-rhythm peeks through. One of these days I might lose my appetite for Machinefabriek releases, but I can’t see it happening yet.

IN THE NURSERY – Blind Sound – all the trademark tropes in place (vaguely martial rhythms, strident horns etc..), and as with all their releases this couldn’t be the work of anyone else (except perhaps Laibach). Meh.

BARRY ADAMSON – Therapist – DVD film & CD – Adamson has been peerless as a composer of soundtracks to imaginary films. Now he’s produced, written, directed, edited and composed the soundtrack for his own – the resultant short film certainly giving the lie to the auteur theory to which Adamson somewhat foolishly subscribes (going by the interview extra on the dvd). Very few are able to effectively deliver in all of these roles let alone adopt them simultaneously, and the developmental value of perspective and critical input is obvious. I’d like to be encouraging, but the result is a mess of diabolical scripting, meaninglessly stylised shots and fashionably eyewatering over-editing that might most charitably be described as an impoverished iteration of the cinema du look. Most aspirant filmmakers end up burying their first fumbled efforts deep in a storage box (I know I did) if they hang on to them at all.  There’s a huge and potentially valuable learning curve for Adamson here, no doubt, but why inflict the (embarrassing) results on the paying public? On the other hand, the soundtrack……

MERCURY REV – Deserter’s Songs Instrumental – bought as a ‘tour-only’ exclusive at their recent rockin’ Queen’s Hall show, only to discover that it’s on general release soon anyway.  Ach weel – not listened to this yet, assuming it to be -erm- the album without vocals.

LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY – The Return Of Sound System Scratch   &  Rise Againthe former a companion volume to last year’s selection of disco plates, the latter his most recent US market aimed outing. Some longtime Perry afficionados don’t seem to have time for much of Perry’s recent output (Sherwood-produced efforts aside), but there’re always at least three or four pop reggae gems on each release, and this is no exception. Still can’t get enough of the old groaner in this house.

ROEDELIUS – Momenti Felici – missed this the first time round, another Bureau B rerelease. It’s a cracker too, one of his ‘grand piano’albums, this with ethereal vocal and woodwind accompaniment. Roedelius’ back catalogue = the gift that keeps on giving. Stunning.

13 & GOD – Own Your Ghost – been waiting a while for this second collaboration between members of Anticon and the Notwist, with only a recent download of a two-year-old Japanese live cd to stave off my pangs. Top stuff.

DEMDIKE STARE – SymbiosisTryptych – bought after hearing a track on a compilation someone sent me that sounded not unakin to a looser, jazzy Rhythm & Sound track. Apparently they’re an influence, but these albums reveal an altogether darker and more varied palette.

MUSLIMGAUZE – Beirut Transister – caught up with a good few older releases over the past year or two and along the way acquired the habit of picking up new additions – but the barrel is well and truly being scraped here. Enthusiasm exhausted.

JOHANN JOHANNSSON – The Miner’s Hymns – when I heard that Johannsson was collaborating with a miners’ brass band to perform at Durham Cathedral last summer, I damn near drove down to witness the performances, such was the strength of the spell that Virðulegu Forsetar (also a work for brass and organ, recorded in a cathedral in Reykjavik) weaved over me.  I’m almost sorry, listening to this, that I made the penny-pinching decision to stay away. Where Virðulegu Forsetar’s four rumbling, slowly developing suites vibrated ornaments off the mantelpiece whilst providing an encompassing Sunday-morning wake-up listen chez ayeball, there’re different dynamics on display here, a powerfully cavernous sadness to this music that precludes any such casual listening.

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