Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Manuel Mota - rcK (Dromos)

Manuel Mota has always intrigued me, ever since "Leopardo" on Rossbin some ten years ago, but sightings had been few and far between since then. That's been safely remedied with this handsomely produced, five-disc solo set. The recordings are in different circumstances, at home or in concert, and took place between 2009-2012.

Richard covered matters well enough that I'm at pains to add much more. As has been the case in the past, at least with my exposure to his work, Mota uses fairly clear tones in a loosely melodic manner that hints at melodies but never quite states them, instead eddying off to the side with calm, wandering ruminations. For all of the first disc and the first two tracks of the second, the sounds are quite of a piece, pleasantly so, but similar enough to create a strong urge in this listener for, after a while, a change of pace. The third cut on disc II supplies that with a repetition of a single three note figure (two quickly slurred ones and a rising third) that sound like a kind of animal cry before, once again, drifting off into 'Opposite'-era Sugimoto soft ramblings. The live set on Disc III, from Lisbon 2011, benefits from a deeper, fuller room sound, Mota's strongly plucked notes having more air in which to reverberate than in the home recordings, though the music itself continues to reside in that same Mota-space. There's also more of a bluesy, Loren Connors feel here; would have been quite beautiful as a release on its own, my favorite section here. The 2009 Ljubljana set is more abstract, recalling Crimson's "Moonchild" (!) and a bit of Bailey, segueing into some wah wah that ethereally summons 70s Miles. The Instants Chavirés performance is a shade spacier than the prior one, with gentle echoes, velvet soft while the closing piece, home again, returns to the standard mode, albeit with a (relatively) loud section.

There's really very little to criticize--all the music is at the very least enjoyable and, on occasion, very beautiful, if in an elusive manner. Though it's 5 discs, the total time is only around three hours, so it's less to digest than may be immediately apparent. It's satiated by Mota hunger for now. Others who've experienced a pang or two for the same in recent years could do far worse.

Toshimaru Nakamura/Manuel Mota - FoZ (Dromos)

The salient item in this 2011 duet is that Toshi plays guitar throughout, a rare enough event. Short of that, I didn't derive much from the session. The pair of electrics, while sparely played, are harsher than much of the music on the box set though still in Connors territory but absent the deep, forlorn blues. There's something hollow in the sound which might have its own appeal--and sometimes it's almost there for me--but never quite engages. Low groans that fracture abruptly, thick keening offset by Partchian strums. It's an unusually hard go in the sense that it often sounds like I should enjoy it more than I end up doing so. Perhaps it will grow on me over time but for the moment, Mota's solo work, at its best, far outstrips this session.

I love Margarida Garcia's cover design and lettering, though; arguably worth it for that alone!


Monday, May 06, 2013

Andrea Borghi - Vetrale (obs *)

Instrumentation for this solo disc is listed as, "modified turntable, elaborated glass discs, computer, effects" and the several handsome photos included on oversize cards depict a stylus and dirt-bestrewn platter. These lead one to anticipate a rougher go of things than is actually the case; perhaps the computer and "effects" leavened matters out a bit. Whatever the case, the sounds are very attractive, dense and multicolored. he six tracks all possess an elusive rotating quality as befits their origin, a cycling kind of hum beneath a fine sizzle. As a rough analogy, think of the better music produced by Gunter Muller and crew in the early oughts and throw in a few handfuls of gravel. Absorbing throughout, a handsome package and a very good recoding.

obs *

Tim Blechmann/Manuel Knapp - VIII (Nada)

Releases like this always present something of a quandary. Structurally, at heart, the music isn't very complex: more or less a sustained surge. It emerges, it grows, its internal elements seethe to the surface, interact and eventually subside. The juicy bits depend largely on the elements chosen and, ore pointedly, what transpires during their interaction, how surprising and/or beautiful a mix results. Here, Blechmann (laptop) and Knapp (electronics) offer up some choice morsels and lend them in a generally engaging, if unspectacular, manner. There's a nice soft/harsh edge to the sound--like sheets of metal rubbed flatly against one another, a very appealing audio bonbon and things eventually edge into a noisy territory à la, say, classic Voice Crack. It's an enjoyable ride though one might question its ultimate nutritional value.


Note: posting may be spotty to non-existent for the next few weeks as I'll be back in the States for a visit and am not sure about my listening/writing opportunities while there.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A few short notes, from memory, on the concert this afternoon at Foundation Suisse, in the Universitaire a Paris.

The building is a Le Corbusier, a rather attractive one, and the performance took place in the room pictured above with five members of Ensemble Dedalus (Amélie Berson, flute/Silvia Tarozzi, violin/
Deborah Walker, cello/Thierry Madiot, trombone/Didier Aschour, guitar) situated in front of the large window, playing pieces by Hauk Harder, Pascale Criton and Michael Pisaro, all of which involved microtonal tunings.

Harder's "Der Geschmack von grünen Heringen" began with luscious unison lines between flute and violin, gradually both expanding to other combinations of instruments and staggering their entry slightly, resulting in a kind of hocketing effect. It was very enticing for the first several minutes as one tracked the reformulations, quiet and steady, from group to group within the ensemble. However, the idea was pretty well established four or five minutes in and the final ten or so revealed little more. Criton's composition was much more fascinating throughout. The composer was present and detailed (to the extent I could understand) the tunings involved, having the violin, cello and guitar quickly demonstrate same. The first section involved rapid taps on the string of these three instruments while the flute and trombone played soft, long tones beneath. The second had the strings utilizing circular bowing (or strumming, in the case of the guitar), forming gorgeous, iridescent clusters that skirted standard tonality without treading there. The whole piece floated wonderfully, quiet and shimmering with alien colors.

Before the concert began, there were four Asian students playing frisbee outside the large window. They were asked to move their doings by one of the show organizers, a decision I thought was unfortunate given the likely nature of, at least, the Pisaro work, memories of the guy with the ladder at St. Mark's Church in the Village still in my head. I was greatly heartened therefore when, prior to his piece, Madiot got up and slid open the doorway, allowing the exterior sound world entry. The composition was "chords, partially obscured" (2008), originally scored for clarinet, harmonica, electric guitar, violin and cello (plus electronics), adapted to the instrumentation at hand. As if on cue, just as the quintet was about to begin, an airplane engine's lovely sound filled the sky. The work was incredibly beautiful; the cello played a soft, continuous line while the others played a handful of five or six second single notes, deliciously harmonized, very much like the most wonderfully sonorous breathing you ever heard, at least a couple of times very subtly augmented by electronics, possibly a field recording (maybe more often than I realized). They would played three or four such phrases, then sit silently for 15-20 seconds. Outside, the environment cooperated as perfectly as one could hope. Off to the left, about 30 feet out of view, a ping pong game was occurring, the delicate "pok" of the balls intermingled with triumphant or disappointed cries. The traffic on the other side of the dorm buildings hummed. One bird warbled richly, a cawing crow chasing it away. People walked by, peered in, made barely audible comments. The music accepted it all, breathed calmly, registered its own thoughts.

So, so great.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

BOT - Compositions Continuums des Machines (fibrr)

If I understand correctly--something always in doubt--BOT is a program more or less designed by/under control of Julien Ottavi which takes as input multiple sources ranging from mics planted at various locations in and around Nantes to specific inputs from individuals then, using its own internal algorithms, transforms them into an output at its own discretion. I don't know whether the program undergoes any kind of "evolutionary" enhancements, if it learns from previous work (or reactions to same) or whether it simply sits there, processing and regurgitating, 48 minutes of which, sampled from September 2012 through January 2013 is offered here.

I doubtless would have taken this for an intentionally processed field recording if I didn't know otherwise, the shards of recognizable sounds (birds, insects, sirens, etc.) sliced and diced with electronics and, presumably, sounds rendered into shapes at a great remove from their source. And it would be a pretty good one. Everything's thick, sinewy and variegated, everything flows. There are the occasional semi-cliched electronic squiggles and the sounds themselves aren't especially unusual, but the stew is tasty. Is this partially because of a lack of human (routine) choices being made in the work's construction? I'm tempted to think so but again, I'm not clear on exactly how much, if any, flesh and blood interaction there is. Better to just relax and enjoy and BOT, whether neuronal or circuitry, does a pretty decent job of it.

(Various) - Nantes Is Noise (fibrr)

Fourteen tracks curated by Julien Ottavi to document, in part, the noise/improvised music scene in Nantes. Interesting for this writer in that I was only familiar with 6-7 of the names involved so, at worst, I'd get a fuller picture of what's occurring there. Happily, "noise", herein,
is not automatically taken as the equivalent of "loud onslaught", not by a long shot.

Some highlights:

--a short piece by Keith Rowe, "W-O", opening the disc, quiet, intense, scrabbling.
--Formanex (Anthony Taillard Emmanuel Leduc and Ottavi) offer another soft-edged work, with eerie moans and faint static over sharper slices and low hums. Not sure from when this derives, but good to hear the group is still functioning and producing strong work.
--a fluttering work by Jerome Joy that sounds like a combination of electronics and insectile field recordings.
--a lovely, gently wavering drone from Taillard
--Jenny Pickett's field recordings ("In the clearing") which seem to include activity that may not be far afield from a Rowe/Lambkinesque documentation of otherwise non-aurally centered activity
--Ottavi's "Noise serie: Mouvement allegro", beginning with the intense mesh of sound one might expect before abruptly shifting to nighttime insect life, near silence, then a final burst of ultra-harsh static.

(btw, Clinch's piece sounds remarkably like a further sped up veriosn of the sped up sections of Zappa's "Lumpy Gravy")

As with almost any compilation, a mixed bag but a reasonably sold one and a good snapshot of a scene that's not otherwise well documented.

apo-33 (home of fibrr)