the act of lift, drop, secure: joe murray on ezio piermattei, grip casino, va aa lr

July 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita (tape, Tutore Burlato, #02, edition of 50)

 VA AA LR – Polis (CD, Intonema, int014, edition of 200)

piermattei grip casino

Grip Casino & Ezio Piermattei – Holo Orbita

Lighter than air music-collage/focus-group jam from residents of those fine city jewels Bologna and Rome!

Tweaked to the pitch of a moth’s wing, this is a delightfully delicate murmur.  The equipment list, as ever, gives us a clue.  I’ve grouped the guff-orchestra for ease:

  • mouth-puff – ocarina, saxophone, flute, voice, trumpet and harmonica
  • wrist-twist – viola, Dictaphone, xylophone, guitar, accordion, percussions, piano and viola
  • brain-crinkle – electronics, editing, tapes, turntable and field recordings

There’s a whole bunch more channels opened but I’m sticking to this deft weaving of mouth/wrist/brain responsible for the guttering flicker of sounds, neatly folding along worn logic-lines like a large map of Easter Island.

But what does it sound like?  Looking closely you can see the micro-view through your gimlet eyes:

Dusty reeds draw gritty smog across their hungry mouth parts, ducks smacking bills excitedly, frenzied sucking, distant fireworks/fluff removed from cardigan (amplified), goats doing goaty business, UFO take off, ubiquitous birds, hissing of door-frames.

Chinese electronics/traffic in Bologna cut-up via Dictaphone, bamboo pipe ritual induce Gnostic trance (but aping them ducks!).

Exorcist out-take on thin copper wire and congealed music box.  A Joycean setting: the Dublin pub, the craic gets out of hand when the old boys drag out a modular synth and castrated violin.  Old songs are sung, the seals join in on radio interference and novelty glass bells.

Dented gong attacks dolphin, its CIA brain implant tuning into world radio.  The undersea kingdom kinks under great pressure and the steel domes buckle with a deafening ‘ping’.  As bubbles rush upwards mermen struggle in the fizzing maelstrom.

Ruler p-w-o-n-g.  A Boards of Canada-style rusty  ident.

Standing back, up a ladder, it all falls into a wonderful pattern.  The monkey with a spiral tail!

va aa lr polis

 VA AA LR – Polis

Super-classy trio of movements designed for nervous boy racers with those massive sub-woofer systems in their peach fiestas (probably)*

I’ve always had a soft spot for VA AA LR.  Some of it must be their sound palette.  Like Martin Klapper or Voice Crack they are taking non-musical objects and breathing sweet sound into them.  Where VA AA LR differ is with the range of non-musical instruments used. Some of this is well documented (the flares of Newhaven for example) but here we have a mystery set of oddments from the past, present and future: aerosols, scaffolding, de-tuned wood and things unknown and unknowable.  Add to this the occasional voice and this warms up the effect like bubbling soda – less cold machine slick and more pink, rosy glow.

In movement one gritty loops of escaping gas click into place neatly with an ice-cube crackle and a louche, off-hand bass tone.  It’s like sonic lego; small units that are cute enough on their own but transformed when snapped tightly together to create a blocky Taj Mahal.  What could be terribly austere becomes playful as field recordings of voices, seagulls and windows rattling add an emotional heft to the crackle and pop of this strictly downtown funk.  Yeah…watch out Ronson!

Movement two continues with the bass science as a 2 x 4 plank is twanged all flubbery.  The builders are in next door banging away on pig iron with meaty pork mallets.  The nail-bar whirr of micro-dryers pepper the proceedings like correct grammar, making perfect sense but unseen (or heard) until you tune in.  The voices, this time a trifle menacing, are sometimes front and centre in the mix but occasionally sneak left and right with crude Portuguese curses.

Movement three is like a man or woman patiently undertaking a tough physical job, fence-posting for instance.  The rhythm of the task gets into your bones; you become the act of lift, drop, secure.  Ropes are bound tightly round this track adding a nylon bounce above the fly-tippers percussion and dry Perspex rattle.

Strangely enough the overall effect of listening to Polis is that I feel a little smarter than I did 33 minutes ago.  Like when anxious parents play baby Mozart to pump up their grey matter.  VA AA LR are the official brain gym for the mid-life dropout.


*if you are a details freak you can read about the real genesis of Polis here.  Until then… you can imagine what you want!


Tutore Burlato


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