Monday, March 29, 2010

NMPERIGN W/ JAKE MEGINSKY - "Selected Occasions of Handsome Deceit" LP (Rel)

Have been meaning to write about this one since it was given to me last month. A very attractive single-sided vinyl release from the people at Rel. Eli and Ashley clearly know what they are doing.

Not your typical nmperign set here. Meginsky (x.o.4) pushes Greg and Bhob into more expressive territory than they usually inhabit. Some of my favorite parts are the sudden cut-to-the-corner-of-the-mountain builds that sweep up the whole murky foundation that has just been laid and replaces it with an in-the-clouds outlook on lost and found. That is not to say by any means that the record is without the constraint that one expects to find on an nmperign release. Lots of angles and textures, lots of space, lots of listening going on here. The session moves in and out of crawling excursions, lifts, and utter cut-it-loose drop-offs into high flood and pitch wail on the ground zones. All three of these musicians have the ability to come in and out of positions with the utmost clarity and commitment, while at the same time maintaining the freedom to go wherever the other two are taking them. The stakes are high - no question - but the overall tone is collective rather than being adversarial. Consistently surprising.

Plenty of space here for the sonic alchemy to do its thing, but matched with an equally strong presence; an aggression and timbral blending that beats in and out from organic/wet to fine/dry to straight electronic. Don't be mislead, this is an acoustic set with all hands on main guns (Meginsky - Percussion, Kelly - Trumpet, Rainey - Soprano Sax). But the recording nevertheless conjures the ethos of electronic music. The sharp cut-offs seem mechanical at moments, the out-of-nowhere slices of sound float in with a purity of tone that is uncanny. At points the recording sounds invaded by burnt circuits, ever so gently humming or buzzing in the frame. Sometimes nmperign sound like they are sampling environmental sounds. But of course, they are just playing their instruments (the way only they do). Yes, these guys are that good.

And at the same time, they manage to side-step the treacherous pit of acoustic chamber improv cliche completely. The work here is visual - child swinging on the rusty solo swing at the back lot after a lot of rain - strange, careful stockhausen monsters looking on at dawn, or is it dark, it all works whatever; but it also works on the, "just what it is, cut and dried, no strings attached, flat, fragrant sound" level too.

14 minutes of really, really good music.

Pressed on 160 gram copper plate mastered vinyl, cut to 45 for Maximum Dynamic range. (For a slightly more chillers vibe, try it on 33. It is pretty phat there too.) Cover designed by Eli Keszler, printed by Ashley Paul. A light blue fold-over paper is integrated in to a heavy picture disc sleeve, screened notes are featured on the inside. A one-time edition of 300 copies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jazzfinger - "Gates of Failure" c60 (Gods of Tundra)

Jazzfinger is the Newcastle, UK based duo of Ben Jones and Hasan Gaylani. They have been releasing material since god knows when. I haven't listened to too much of it, but what I have heard I have been really impressed by. Lots of different sounds, often surprisingly laid-back in its approach, always compelling.

Pretty fast moving stuff here at first. Side A (Pursue The Voice) starts in with a rusty see-saw scream, soon surrounded by muchos scrapes. The sounds are cut with sharp edges - they definitely penetrate deeply. But for all the free sheet-metal gliding that goes on above, there is an equal element of brooding fog drone-tap-in-tap-out FF bellowing below.The moments when these two planes slide together and bustwash fuzz portrait of preexisting golden genes are the best. When the jams get locked into all out spirit war underneath the audible surface and only the overwoofed buzz-mist floats through is when it really gets cookin'. Honey, we burned the butter. Yummy smell for an hour. She smacked his steel plate repeatedly. Did you listen? Or did you listen to the days news? Some kind of trans-obliteration, La Monte would be pissing his pants.

Almost Skaters-esque tape-up plug-ins and outs all of a sudden. Marking time with the occasional cyber scream, liberty bell, or spoken transmission. Somehow, I can still hear my shirt rustle. Sort of casual wear.

Side B (Brink of Infinity) comes in on a much more limited spectrum. More of a classical drone composition. Slowly augmenting the sound with mixing-ins of higher frequencies. This is best subdude, maxed-out crud jams for real. Almost nothing to orient oneself with. Diving in and out of baskets of overloaded drone drizzle, with the occasional static solo sketching on the roof. Long-time cultivated, cultivators of long-ended land magnets. It takes its time. There is no fucking rush. Oscillating between earth and sky, sinking and flying, a movement here, a fried overtone there. A very generous offering.

Sure this stuff is some bleak inner/innerer groove, but it isn't utterly without contact with the outter-space. It is committed. It doesn't come up for air because it doesn't have to. Get comfortable with the see no nothing lifestyle, because it is blackened windows and blackened glasses on this rip-roar of a good time pulse interference tape.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Robert Beatty - "Solos" (What The...? Records LP)

"Solos" is a record of live solo electronics sets by Robert Beatty (Three Legged Race, Hair Police) ripped out of the middle of shows he did with Burning Star Core (C. Spencer Yeh) during a tour in April 2009. The work offered here is really damn good. Beatty manages to squeeze and push an unthinkable range of electronic sounds out of a limited set-up consisting of a space echo, synthesizer, mixer, question boxes?? and whatever else electronic he could find, etc...

One of the things that thrills me the most about this record is how dry and naked it is. I feel like I can hear every decision that is being made as it is decided, and that it is always a moment to moment journey. There is no question that Beatty is a hardcore improvisor, and that he is in it for the sonic explorations. You will find no cliches here, no recycled sounds, nothing remotely recognizable really (unless your a B├╝lent Arel aficionado, in which case you are primed and ready to be blown away by Roberts explorations as it is).

These solos are experimental/FARC-fucked and some might want to describe them as avant-guarde-yourself-against-avant-guarde, but one thing that Robert doesn't have a shred of is pretension. He doesn't shy away from a dank groove when it presents itself, and he isn't interested in undermining any world-views.

The packaging consists of a few b&w photocopies of Robert (in various situations - eating, sleeping, with a VHS copy of Michael Christian's "Hard Run") and his equipment.

This is straight alien waffle-babble. Give the circuits the time and let them do the talking. This is the kind of shit you want with your morning coffee. It's a good crawler or a glazed stick - you kinda know its gunna fuck you up for the rest of the day, but you down it anyway and are soo glad you did. Some moments come close to electronic congo jams and then sweeptwee into the back corner pocket... of the solar toaster system.

Since the record is a bunch of pieces collaged together, it really moves. It never dwells and gets soggy. It is always dirty. It is always on the run. I think Robert is not often given the attention that he deserves. This comes as highly recommended as anything! Only 166 copies out there.