YANNIS KYRIAKIDES & ANDY MOOR: A Life is a Billion Heartbeats CD Unsounds

yanniskandymoor

YANNIS KYRIAKIDES & ANDY MOOR: A Life is a Billion Heartbeats CD Unsounds

Continuing this duo’s exploration of Greek Rebetika music and following on from their album that is simply titled by this style; this latest release follows the same path and revisits live sampling and instrumentation with an ever so slight approach to what was previously achieved.

As music improvisation goes, I can categorically state that I am more often than not, put off by the medium as a whole. When musicians flirt with the word ‘contemporary’, the end result usually slots into ‘Avant-Garde’ territory (what we Brits translate as “French for shit”).

The main issues I have with these works by Yannis and Andy (both of them), is that underneath it all, they undoubtedly have a concept that could ultimately work, if they concentrated their efforts on the evocative harmonies that occasionally raise their heads. Unfortunately, becoming wrapped up in scraping guitar strings and noodling pointlessly, whilst making an abject racket takes precedence on this album; and it is all the worse for it.

5.5/10

XAVIER CHARLES: 12 Clarinets in a Fridge CD Unsounds

xaviercharles

XAVIER CHARLES: 12 Clarinets in a Fridge CD Unsounds

I am not a lover of Music Concréte or indeed music solely based on field recordings. In this case you can skip the field part, as Charles has wandered no further than his kitchen and created sound sources within that environment; namely his fridge, as the title suggests.

In fairness, he has also used his clarinet, and although I sound a bit harsh, he has been creating ambient music for some time, so in theory this shouldn’t have been run of the mill twaddle; and at a small insignificant level, some of this works.

However, I cannot get over envisaging a picture of Xavier in a pinafore, ignoring the washing up and farting around pointlessly whilst his significant other wonders if he will ever get round to cooking dinner for once, rather than pretending to be a musician.

This is as pointless a concept as many other releases from this genre and would most likely sound better if the clarinets had been firmly shoved up his backside; if anything it would have been as relevant.

4/10

SARAH PEEBLES: Delicate Paths CD Unsounds

sarahpeebles

SARAH PEEBLES: Delicate Paths CD Unsounds

Toronto based composer Peebles usually works with sound based art improvisation and installations, utilising a Japanese mouth organ called a Shō. The sound isn’t dissimilar to that of any other mouth organs I have encountered, if not more shrill than those commonly used.

I had expected a certain fragility to the album, considering its title; and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Occasionally, other instrumentation comes into play although it barely interprets anything that could be classified as music, with notes spat out like demented out of key Jazz (although this is an insult to many an established musician of that genre). This is an introduction to the Shō for me and if I have anything to do with it, the last time I will ever encounter one.

There was a time when the Unsounds label produced the odd gem that I could latch onto, knowing that nobody I knew could possibly have it; and as obscure as the sounds were, they were usually interesting if nothing else. ‘Delicate Paths’ is an annoying irritant from start to finish that made me cover my ears and screw my face up. Self-indulgent tripe.

4/10

YANNIS KYRIAKIDES: Resorts & Ruins CD Unsounds

yannisk

YANNIS KYRIAKIDES: Resorts & Ruins  CD Unsounds

I quite like oddities, especially when it comes as an addition to the packaging.  Inside the digipak are sets of postcards matching the theme of the album created by Isabelle Vigier, based on ‘The Golden Seaside’, created with manipulated images of Varosha (the resort of Famagusta.  They’re a neat addition and as stated I enjoy stuff like this.

Musically, Kyriakides utilises spaces and voice alongside compositions based on electronic and analogue structures.  On the opening ‘Covertures I’, things do feel a little disjointed as these individual elements are kept separate as a series of short breaks, with the vocal elements almost forming the part of a director barking out the orders for testing each form of media.

Next up, ‘Varosha’ comes across in much the same format, mainly comprised of traditional Turkish folk and disco themes cut and pasted together.  It’s at this stage of the release that things start to become difficult to listen to and it’s not until the ambient noise of ‘Covertures II’ that we get a complete track in its entirety.

Overall, I do respect the artistic qualities of what Kyriakides is trying to accomplish.  However, this is more of an audio art installation than anything else and try as I might to ignore it, this did make my teeth grind a little too much with impatience.

6/10

LEAN LEFT: Live at Café Oto CD Unsounds

LEAN LEFT: Live at Café Oto  CD Unsounds

On the whole I have been liking the output from the Unsounds label; challenging me with new and worthwhile experiences listen by listen.  Unfortunately this latest release falls flat on its face.

As stated within the title of this two-track album, this is a live CD that provides a fully improvised live set of collaboration.  Mainly comprising of drums and sax, this obviously slots into the Jazz realm of “anything goes”; although that doesn’t necessarily mean “anything good” will come of it.

Unfortunately for me this whole release is just way too messy, with rhythm sections falling over themselves and struggling to fight for supremacy over the rest of the instrumentation.  I can imagine this most likely being fun in a smoky bar with a beer in hand once the alcohol hits the senses, but on CD it’s barely listenable.

4/10

ANNE-JAMES CHANTON & ANDY MOOR: Transfer/4 INBOUND/OUTBOUND 7” Unsounds

ANNE-JAMES CHANTON & ANDY MOOR: Transfer/4 INBOUND/OUTBOUND  7” Unsounds

This is the fourth in ‘Transfer’ series of seven-inch vinyl outputs from this duo, comprising of poetry and musical intersections.

This a peculiar release that works remarkably well.  I may abhor poetry in any form, but the vocals pitched in many a language folded over the top of throbbing ambience works well.  A key focus on warping sub electronics and timing match the format and is cleverly paced and conceived and overall is a pleasure to listen to.

As usual with a single vinyl format like this there is little to speak of because of the sheer lack of listening fodder to sit down with.  However, I applaud any vinyl release more often than not and for once there is actually something here worth immersing yourself within, shortly before have to switch the record over.  ‘Transfer/4 INBOUND/OUTBOUND ‘ is one of those pieces of work I would like to hear on a full-length album alongside other tracks of this ilk.

7.5/10

PETER ADRIAANSZ: Three Vertical Swells CD Unsounds

PETER ADRIAANSZ: Three Vertical Swells CD Unsounds

Adriaansz coins himself as a lover of “audible mathematics” and someone who devotes himself to sound rather than notes on a page. Considering the nature of this live recording and the compositional qualities needed when working with an ensemble, I found this surprising.

The first half of this release is concentrated on the title track, split into three halves. Part one grates on the nerves, with its high pitch and constant singular piano strikes, but thankfully, part two with its multi-layered tones (swells), eases off the pressure with wave upon wave of drones lightly broken up with percussion. Come part three, all is frantic once more, with the barrage of suspense driven instrumentation, rising into a climatic end.

The latter five tracks on this album are separately titled as ‘Music for Sines, Percussion, Ebows & Variable Ensemble’, and do exactly what they say on the tin, so to speak. I did struggle with this somewhat and there was a lack of cohesiveness to the first four parts to this half of the release; the instrumentation is as professional as ever, but lacks the essential entertainment levels of this albums predecessor. The last track on this album however, utilises its string section appropriately, providing a rich throbbing low-end ambience, which left this release on a high.

Overall, ‘Three Vertical Swells’ is an album that not only provides two halves in its presentation, but also in its range of listening capabilities. The irony is, considering how Adriaansz approaches his composition; ‘TVS’ should be approached more for its technical qualities, rather than outright aural experience.

7.8/10