SYLVAIN CHAUVEAU & CHANT1450: Echoes of Harmony-Early Music Reworked CD/DL Sub Rosa
A crossover of early ensemble based repertoire of 15th and 16th century compositions, sound designed electronically, may not spark much interest for many; but it does grab my attention.
There is something majestic about the music created here, knocking on the door of Dead Can Dance, but flirting with the sounds of Gregorian spirituality; a mysteriously hidden, yet omnipresent lore.
Easy on the ear and surprisingly un-subcultural (considering the contemporary electronic influence), this does have a touch of the major league to it, where this could be exposed to a wider classical market and they would revel in it. I could imagine this going down well in an old opera house or a sitting in grand medieval cathedral somewhere in Eastern Europe littered with candles burning at dusk. On the flip side of the coin, this could also appeal to God botherer’s, sat at home on a Sunday afternoon lamenting their past discretions; and that’s where it becomes a tad droll.
Overall though, this is a pleasant and interesting piece of work. I would struggle play this more than once and most likely will never again as it barely differs in experimentation throughout. It is however, accomplished; and that’s more than can be said about a lot of releases out there. My cat William loves it too; and nobody argues with him.
O3: Trashumancia CD/DL Sofa Music
All the makings of albums I hate come to mind, when the words ‘Free Improvisation’ are uttered. It really does set me off on bad footing before I hit the play button, as history has told me most of the stuff in this field is nothing short of bloody awful.
Again, whilst being quieter than expected, this is a rambling concoction of bells, chimes, stumbling instrumentation and percussion that endlessly fumbles and falls over with no apparent nod to any form of musical gumption.
There’s no structure, no form and most importantly, no point to this genre and I am aghast at the amount of labels that churn this stuff out year on year. The sad thing is; occasionally you can hear a glimpse of musicianship that criminally hasn’t being capitalised on. If I never hear another album of this ilk, it will be too soon. Life is far too short to waste on monotony such as this.
DISPLACER: The Face You Deserve CD/DL Hymen Records
This is the final release of the year for prolific Canadian Michael Morton; who is on a seemingly unstoppable roll right now, in the productivity stakes.
Opening up with ‘Out of Time’, a steady bass line gels the gently applied and folded beats as cold and distant pads ease their way through the cracks; setting the scene for the general approach to this latest opus.
As usual though, Morton has the knack of surprising the listener once they have bedded in for the ride; throwing the odd curveball of electronics that wade in to kick over the bins and push items off shelves, as opposed to just tearing the place up. A gentle riot if you will, that is none more evident than on ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ (Mike is actually a really nice guy).
The title track plays with Displacer’s trademark looping elastic band, panning electronic leads and stuttering rhythm; that sets the scene well for the beat-free analogue synth extravaganza that is ‘He Becomes the Dream’.
‘The Face You Deserve’ has a lot to live up to, given the impressive and expansive back catalogue Morton has given to the world over the years. Once again, he has delivered an album that stands tall in his discography that touches on the past; and indeed adds some extra footnotes for the future, as a bridge for the endless possibilities to come.
GREGG KOWALSKY: L’Orange, L’Orange LP/CD/MC Mexican Summer
‘What does the sun sound like?’ asks the press release. It’s a mystery that never crossed my mind and most likely one we will ever truly find out, if it’s worth asking at all. No matter, as Kowalsky obliterates any questions that may be directed at himself, with an impressive conceptual 7-tracker that took me completely by surprise.
Warm summer enriched ambient is the order of the day here, with multi-layered pads that compliment each other as a fusion of pitch that sit on a bed of oven baked bass lines. Lush, high-end pitter-patters are allowed to flow across a sea of ranging drones, never losing sight of essential melody.
‘L’Orange, L’Orange’ is a dreamy album; and one of those releases, which you really have to make some space and time for. The rewards for the listener are endless here, once you allow yourself to be completely immersed in its tangerine, seamless folds. It also gains kudos for an ability to have kept me transfixed from beginning to end; and I very nearly just hit ‘play’ once again, as the final notes reverberated out.
CUT WORMS: Cable Mounds CD/DL Opa Loka Records
This is Richard Van Kruysdijk’s second full-length under this moniker, once again manipulating a variety of electronic sources and effects to produce a prime slab of ambient, that surprisingly doesn’t tailgate around the bleaker end as I expected.
As far as Dark Ambient goes, Richard has this pretty much nailed on tracks such as ‘Witch Brogues’. The low-ends drag in an alternate direction to the soaring highs; and the space between is utilised as a playground for other effects.
A variable palate is evident on ‘Cable Mounds’, where sounds cater for lovers of Drone and experimentalism and indeed, fans of analogue synth. This variation does surprisingly leave the release disjointed in parts; and it’s the direction that suffers somewhat as a result.
Overall though, there is a lot on this latest piece of work to smile about if you separate the tracks into sections; and the sum of its parts more than outweigh the structure as a whole.
ZE-KA: Ghost Planet CD/DL Opa Loka Records
French composer Jean-Phillipe Feiss has a background in classical music that isn’t all that evident on this project, which for the most part loiters with experimental noises until the cellos make an appearance on ‘Red Forest’.
‘Ghost Planet’ is an obscure affair, where the tracks themselves sound like midsections of background scores to a movie; that never actually evolve into full songs (apart from ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Oceans’). As such, this just adds to the peculiarity of the album as a whole.
This is not to say that this work is bad; it isn’t, not by any means. Track by track (barring the opening pointless high pitched number, ‘Fission’) there is much to become involved in if you like obscure and disjointed moments of desolate space. In those aspects alone, Ze-Ka has been successful.
LARVAE: Ghost Dubs EP DL Crime League
It’s been five long years since we heard anything out of the Larvae camp; and this is the first release for Canadian label Crime League, after the majority of their musical output came via the now missing in action label, Ad Noiseam.
‘Ghost Dubs’ is an aptly named moniker for the five tracks on display. Apparitions of ambience float and glide through a thin veil, as oozing bass lines are the glue for slow, stilted beats and chirping electronics to gloomily trundle along a moody path.
Paying homage to much of the output covered by cult Japanese ghost movies from the 50’s and 60’s; Larvae have got their concept firmly nailed down to a tee. Background whispers, creaks and groans permeate the entirety of this EP, enveloping the listeners’ consciousness with relative ease.
This is a decent re-entry back into producing music and sets the stage for any possible future full-length. I would have appreciated just a touch more horror, given the subject matter involved; but there is little on here to grumble about overall.