the intersection of machinery and imagination: marlo de lara on dj crackle and dj snip, kit downes and tom challenger, klaas hübner, matt rogers and laurie tompkins

August 6, 2017 at 8:50 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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DJ Crackle and DJ Snip – Broken Records Phantasy (Ono Records)

Kit Downes & Tom Challenger – Vyamanikal (Slip)

Klaas Hübner – Sog (Slip)

Matt Rogers – SK√-1 (Slip)

Laurie Tompkins – Heat, War, Sweat, Law (Slip)

crackle and snip

DJ Crackle and DJ Snip – Broken Records Phantasy (Ono Records) Cassette (sold out) and digital album

It ain’t nothing new to be a fan of Stuart Chalmers in these parts. From his 2015 Crater Lake performance to his recent show with BBBlood and Posset at Fuse, Leeds/Bradford is delighted when the Chalmers blows through the area.

It is of no surprise to me that he extends beyond his layered noise sets to the world of plunderphonics with such ease. In the persona of DJ Crackle, he reassigns sounds in rhythmic and parallel arrangements.  The sounds are sourced by Dj Skip (Michael Holland) whose projects include Ono, Keswicklemon, Fulbaechop, OnoTesla, Islington Mill Creativity Exchange, and Show and Thumb.

There is a balance of intention and improvisation in these tracks. The first, ‘Beach Clouds’ sounds exactly like its title, riding smooth continuous waves into the album. From here the tracks become more cut-and-paste based with beats that vacillate from halted/stilted to electropical.

The re-purposing of R & B vocal tracks with percussion in ‘Brandy Songs for Supercat’ to ‘White Moonglows’’ electronic bending of a stretched drum and time elapsed words/moans makes this album both playful and mind bending.

Ending with ‘Torch Song for Trumpet’, a high-tide call back to the first track, one is crashed on the shores with sonic waves licking one’s collapsed body.

In some ways, I find work like this more psychedelic than the psychedelic genre itself. Disorganizing captured sounds and setting them free in the air – the whole heart and soul of plunderphonics is captured in this release.

Once the sounds erupt, they become free and no longer are tied to their origins.
 

Kit & Tom 1

Kit Downes & Tom Challenger – Vyamanikal (Slip) CD and digital album

Upon reading their press release, it becomes clear this accomplished duo does several site-specific free jazz/drone tinted improvisations with saxophone and various organs/harmoniums:

“Recorded at five Suffolk churches during a 2015 Aldeburgh Music residency, Vyamanikal deftly explores the native nuances and acoustics of six organs and their surrounding environment.  Downes’ organ playing is alternately delicate and thunderous, teasing out unearthly vibrations from converted harmoniums and mighty, century-old, manual organs like Framlingham’s ‘Thamar Organ’. Challenger’s sax lines act as a conduit between the instrument and their locale, probing errant pipe tones for interferences, and embellishing distant birdsong.”

While the dual tones achieved by the organs are sustained, the saxophone flies with hummingbird silence and delicate presence. It is dream inducing and parasympathetically rich – anti-‘fight or flight’ music or perhaps at times, like in ’Sa,’ it swells into a disconcerted moment.

Yet these nightmare anxieties are delivered underscored by grounding chords. The saxophone in ‘Vistri’ becomes more central, and in its minimal interactions with the diegetic ambient sounds (of birds and wind) the track in some ways is mostly filled with places for listening. The architectures potential is audible and is by far the most site specific on the concluding track ‘Nya-Aya’.

I (not Radio Free Midwich) question the explanation, necessity, and usage of a Sanskrit word. It is a trend that is worth examining in experimental music when white Western music and art practitioners, use language or culture not of their own. There are elements of exoticism or cultural appropriation when language or culture is reappropriated for endeavours like these, especially without the presence of people which inspired the work.

Their press release states: “Named after the ancient Sanskrit term for flying machines – ‘Vaimānika Shāstra’. “  I ask, what is gained by using the Sanskrit word versus the wording ‘flying machines’? Does the album get mileage by this choice of making a nod to Sanskrit? I would argue, the album does not require a cultural derivative to be enjoyed. In its context and completion, it is well composed and highly enjoyable.

It demands repeat listens and room for wondering.

 
klaas hobner

Klaas Hübner – Sog (Slip) C50 Cassette, CD (sold out) and digital album
 

sswsw

Pictured above is ’sswsw’:

“Five laboratory oscillators that generate sine waves of different frequencies, each modulated in volume by mechanical metronomes. The metronomes rest on a light wooden board which sits on 2 aluminium tubes. This setup references Christian Huygens’ 1657 experiments with synchronisation. The free swinging board slowly synchronises the movement of metronome and therefore the modulation of the sine waves.  Spontaneous synchronisation with sine waves was developed as a performance within Corsin Gaudenz’s theatre work ‘Time is on My Side’.” (album notes)

Check out a video of all that good stuff here. Recorded at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, March 2013.

Upon opening the album, with its artist notes and images, I was extremely excited! The album description of the artist alone delighted me and the various media forms in which he explores: “SOG is the magisterial Slip debut of Klaas Hübner, the Berlin-based sound sculptor, improviser, and instrument-builder whose installations coax out uncanny chants from whirly tubes, ceiling fans, styrofoam, and cassette tapes.”

Hübner’s construction and composition are equally beautiful. While the sounds are merely one dynamic of the experiments, the process to its execution is intriguing. Hübner’s work takes up space.

They visually are stunning in their technological construction. As objects, they are intricate and shiny. Conceived as an extension or expansions of various sound and technological historical experiments, as in ‘sswsw’, the work is enthralling.  The work is the material.

One is very aware that these processes/objects emit natural sounds at times, they are built with hands and structures. Sounds meet at the intersection of machinery and imagination. The tape loops used in the ‘schwarzwald’ installations are ugly and light. This vacillation is what pushes the instrumentation beyond many tape loop releases/recordings.

music-for-ceiling-fan-tubes

Music for Ceiling Fans and Tubes: “Lying on their backs below a ceiling fan which rotates just above their bodies, Lysandre Coutu-Sauvé and Klaas Hübner play this composition. One whirly tube is attached to the fan generating a permanent hum, while the two play small tubes as flutes and percussion on the fan blades.”

Watch this goof here.  Recorded at T10 studio, Berlin, January 2015.

This not to say that the compositions lack melodic or traditional musical structures.  A constant beat is provided while flutes guide us to down a wandering path. It does not have a destination but rather like two flutes in conversation they move across various ecospheres.

Perhaps the best part of these compositions is the footage that accompanies the pieces in the notes. One can listen to a track, experience the sounds as they stand, and then revisit the actual set up and machinery used through Vimeo. I particularly recommend listening to the organ and welding track ‘Chateau Poulet’ and opening the footage of the performance. It is refreshing to see works like this in our review pile.

I enjoyed the well conceived nature and the sensual complexities of Hübner’s work.
 

matt rogers

Matt Rogers – SK√-1 (Slip) C30 Cassette, sold out CD and digital album

Press release description: “SK√-1 is the debut Slip missive from British composer Matt Rogers: a suite of solo scorchers belched straight out of the jack of a GravesEnd Casio SK1.”

If one were to take an orchestral arrangement and push it through a misfiring Commodore 64, you might get the sounds Matt Rogers fired in this album.

Unlike the overt sonic attacks of harsh noise, these compositions are strategic and evolve into several fronts. Don’t get me wrong, you are still being attacked. Perhaps it is the instrumentation evoking Cold War computerized technology or the laser-like precision of the ripples and oscillations.

One never is comfortable and even in the pauses and sustained notes, there is no peace. It is unrelenting in its persistence and yet sounds like it is crumbling in its execution.

While these are composed pieces, the affect is the immediacy of a live noise set in which danger and immediacy are integral to the experience.

Then track 5, SK√-1 ■■, arrives on deck. Like a circus-tent taunter or a hypnotic slot machine, it is joyous and bouncy yet still demanding…

 

  • Track 6, SK√-1 □□, is more pensive and thoughtful.

  • Track 7, SK√-1 ▪■, is a call to re-organize the efforts, a gathering and planning of resources.

  • Track 8, SK√-1 □, is the victory of the invaders, littered with small uprisings.

It is not difficult to imagine a space war of sorts listening to this album.

Another impressive release from Slip.

laurie tompkins

Laurie Tompkins – Heat, War, Sweat, Law (Slip) C25 Cassette (with fold-out A3 poster of ‘business wanker’ artwork) CD (sold out) and digital album

Laurie Tompkins work reminds me of early K Records, like Beat Happening on too many drugs.  Or maybe angry cats?

Embracing unprocessed sounds and the humanness of voice, it is absurd and yet structured. Without reading as intentional, each track is present to the sounds played with. The work is very human-centered, not like Carl Rogers’s psychology, but from where it originates.

It is pure play, touching objects, feeling surfaces, and hollering at friends. It is undirected and let loose to build, fail, and climb. Sometimes solidifying into group efforts and other times the mere audible process of attempting to connect and communicate as a group.

The lack of digital instrumentation is welcomed and with percussion often sounding like handclaps, snaps, and stomps, the definition of instrument seems to be made up on the spot. The last track ‘Regret’ is the most song-like in its structure. Almost like the party at the end of a chaotic time, the track attempts to find a harmony in the rhythms played like a broken hand crank machine.

The album is reminiscent of absurdist noise projects like Usurper and The Earwigs, something beyond intentional humour.

Unlike the rest of the Slip releases, it comes off like sonic polaroids after your best friend comes over to play and now the house is trashed.

Definitely a choice for those who enjoyed unprocessed sounds/recordings.

 

Stuart Chalmers’ Batcave

Slip Bandcamp

-ooOOOoo-

the developing process: chrissie caulfield on chaines

September 20, 2016 at 9:56 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Chaines – OST (poster package plus download, Slip, [SLP017])

cover

My last review, of Furchick’s Trouble with a Capital T, mentioned that I was drawn into that album by a compelling opening track. In contrast I have to admit that the opening track on this particular album did actually put me off it for a few moments. However, persistence is a virtue which is often rewarded.

I encountered Caroline Haines’ music via the Feminatronic group on Soundcloud (which I heartily recommend, by the way) and her excellent track ‘Eraserhead‘ . From this I went to her Bandcamp site to see if she had anything worth reviewing for this blog… she does, readers, she certainly does.

The title track(s) of OST are for a collaboration with a visual artist but I’ve been so engrossed in the music that I haven’t even bothered to see if there is a visual element to the work apart from the prints that come with a tape – I’m really all about the sound, as you might have guessed. ‘OST1’ is a ritornello of noise interrupted by acoustic and electric guitars and industrial samples with the voices of collaborator Mary Stark and others rendered almost indistinct. It is variously terrifying, intriguing and occasionally comic as you never quite get a handle on what is going on. I must have listened to this track ten times or so and it always sounds fresh and new. Hearing it on different speakers or headphones just brings out nuances that you’d missed earlier.

The first track ends with Mary’s voice coherent for the first time and segues into ‘OST2’ where she has much more to say… certainly more that’s comprehensible. Over a guitar and percussion ostinato with occasional backing from what I suspect are the noises of an old-fashioned film projector, Mary talks about her film making in an entertaining and engaging way, including her love for the obsolete film technology which adds so much to the sound of the piece. Between the more normal speech parts we have Mary reciting timing countdowns or ingredients lists from an old-style chemical film developing process. This reminds me so much of evenings spent in my father’s darkroom making black and white and (later) colour prints. I can almost smell those chemicals again, though I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing, they were horrible!

‘OST3’ opens with ambient washes of gentle, slightly clipped (in a good way) noise – like wind with bits of smoke in it. Mary then explains more about the haphazard way she produced her first prints in a badly-equipped darkroom, the equipment she uses for her works, and growing up in the North West. As the Bandcamp notes state, this is in some sense a love letter to analogue film – the descriptions and anecdotes presented here are compellingly presented and are integrated really well with the sounds. The way the different sentences are EQed and the reverb on the voice really serve to bring out the messages and turn the disparate parts into a wonderfully coherent whole.

And so back to that first track, ‘Here’, that nearly prevented me from getting further with this wonderful album. It starts with out-of-tune whistling – need I say more? About the only acceptable incidence of any sort of whistling in music, in my opinion, opens Supertramp’s ‘Easy Does It’and after forty years I’m still unsure about that. But once you get past this drunken obstacle the track opens out into something rather lovely and the whistling becomes half-drowned in synth pads and noise. It does work, and the noises at the end close it off well, but I still have trouble with the solo opening. Sorry!

The final track, ‘I Found This’ continues the industrial theme with some great off-kilter rhythms accompanied by indistinct vocals. It breathes in and out like a huge mechanical squeezebox building to gentle and not-so-gentle climaxes that consume you before dropping back to just the vocals and then starting again. This is more of a pure ‘music’ piece than the OST ones, the clanks and string sounds being the main driving force behind it, with the vocals adding a mysterious side-order. These are surely the sounds of human beings subsumed by the machines they are working.

—ooOoo—

Slip

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