Number 192

MICHELE BOKANOWSKI – CIRQUE (CD by Empreintes Digitales)
DAN LANDER – HABITATION (10″Vinyl on hronir Records)
ANDRE DUCHESNE – REFLEXIONS – (CD on Ambiances Magntiques)

MICHELE BOKANOWSKI – CIRQUE (CD by Empreintes Digitales)
A fistful of new releases arrived from peerless Canadian label Empreintes
Digitales a few days back. Two were full-length CD’s and two were recent
additions to their ‘Compact Compact’ series which consists of CD’s shorter
than 40 minutes.
This particular item contains one composition titled ‘Cirque’; 37’00 of
electroacoustic music divided into five movements and constructed, it
seems, almost entirely from recordings made at a circus. This journey back
in time tears at the tangled cobwebs of adulthood, disturbs the dust of
cynicism so that it rises into the air, obscuring the view for a moment,
and when it settles once more we are captured, willing prisoners of magic
and wonder. Remember the first time you went to a circus – how huge the
tent seemed, colourful caravans scattered close by, distant cages, the
promise of candy floss and clowns. And inside, how much bigger the tent
seemed when you were inside ! The ring, smoothly raked – virginal, holy
sawdust, and on the other side of the caged ring, the curtain and the wire
animal tunnels. The circular tiers of seats – those closest to the ring
were always covered with velvet and boasted slightly frayed golden braiding
& tassels – which seemed to rise like a giant’s staircase, floating high up
in the semi-darkness. The sweet smell of straw, the pointing, uniformed
ushers speaking in strange tongues, and oh! the anticipation, such
anticipation. The whole tent, full of children (accompanied by an
occasional adult), is illuminated by the excited gleam shining from
hundreds of bright, wide eyes. Every mouth an ‘ O’. Neverending drumrolls
acrobatic loops taut accordeon. The invisible band strikes up. There are
nervous flurries of spontaneous applause. Suddenly and from nowhere, a
horse starts galloping around the ring in tighter & tighter circles, all
the while the rider assumes increasingly more complicated positions, until
he hangs upside down underneath the horse, his hair brushing fine furrows
in the sand. Crackling whips, the urging clickwhistletalk of the animal
trainers working fierce beasts into a snarl. (I once saw a man put his head
in the lion’s mouth, honest !) Suspended breath holds the trapeze artiste
aloft – if someone were to exhale, he would plummet to certain death.
Rolling clowns dodge pies shoot stars waddle in and out of soap bubbles
lose stuff find it fallover disappear. And then, when it seems that time
really has stopped, the entire multifaceted cast leapfrog out from behind
the curtains, whirling round and round like a spinning top until they are
vaporized by the loudest cymbal crash you ever heard. And slowly because
you are exhausted, you leave the tent, this temple of delight, cheeks
stickysweet, faceflushed, ringing ears. In the car you fall asleep
immediately filing a memory with each deep breath. These wait, sometimes a
lifetime, for that knock on the creaking door which guards their innocence.
And when the door opens, and the show begins again, every sense is satiated
by the treasures we thought we’d lost, and for a moment we are slowly
rehearsing our last dance.
This music, by Michele Bokanowski, is a knock on that door… (MP)

DAN LANDER – HABITATION (10″Vinyl on hronir Records)
Dan Lander is, I think, predominantly a radio artist. He has participated
in numerous international broadcasts and has filled radio editorial & jury
posts in Canada and Europe. I have only heard one other work by him which
was on a Nonsequiter/Radius CD. It was cleverly constructed from the
manyvarious ravings and rantings which bombard late-nite American radio/tv
audiences. (Sorry I’m a bit vague on all this, but I did not keep a copy of
it, which in retrospect, was a bit silly of me.) The man’s obviously
produced bunches of other stuff too, however I have not encountered any of
it during my foraging expeditions.
There are four tracks on this 10″ record. – one on one and three on the
other. The long composition is titled ‘The Road Belongs to Everyone’ and I
found it a somewhat unpleasant reminder of countless lost hours stuck in
traffic on hot days when everyone seemed to be glued to their carhorns and
nearby a couple of stoned kids with eternity stretched out in front of them
thought it was the hoot of the day.
The flipside contains three pieces which focus on the human voice. The
first track sounds like an audience applauding a street performer in
ever-increasing waves responding to the same activity, in the next
sentences are reconstructed from single words and phrases and tell truths
originally disguised with media rhetoric. The last track starts with a
rumbling kittypurr which serves as cooling counterpoint to the dance of the
kitchen machineries.
Not an everyday event, but certainly one which will slip neatly into a
collage salad.

Sometimes it’s easy to start a review. It could go like this: “Boxmedia is a small label from Chicago, having proved themselves to release interesting improvised music on the edge of free-jazz and noise…” Very nice opening lines. Then I go on and tell you about the qualities of improvisers such as Micheal Zerang, who plays percussion and zither, and Fred Lonberg-Holm, who plays a variety of stringed instruments. Then something about the fact that this disc contains nicely improvised music, recorded in one day last year, about building blocks of suspension, free explosions of noise etc, and we would conclude that the Boxmedia lived up to their standard once more. We move over to their next release and since we study the booklet first, we start the next lines like this: Town And Country are an unknown four piece band with two times bass, piano, trumpet, guitar and harmonium. Then we put in the CD in and then we wait for the improvs to come. But… but nothing of the kind of happened. Highly constructed music, melancholical, laid-back, atmospherical. A sort of non-jazzy Tortoise or a totally instrumental Gastr Del Sol. Excellent late night hearing stuff. What can I say? To true surprise from Chicago. (FdW)
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ANDRE DUCHESNE – REFLEXIONS – (CD on Ambiances Magntiques)
Considering the output of Duchesne we see a small but varied oeuvre. His career started in the end of the 70s with Conventum, belonging to the first generation of musicians of the Ambiances Magntiques family. Another guitarist of Conventum, Rene Lussier became a real globetrotter after the label (and the artists!) became more known outside of Canada. Lussier is for example member of the illustrious Fred Frith Guitar Quartet. In the mid 80s both Lussier and Duchesne were member of another guitar quartet, namely Les 4 Guitaristes de l’Apocalypso-Bar. For Duchesne this remained – as far as I have an overview on his career – his only real international cooperation. Duchesne always concentrated most of his activities in Canada. He composed for big ensemble (L’oul) and for Locomotive, a group operatingwithin the rockformat. In 1984 he released his first solo-album ‘Le temps des bombes’. Duchesne, playing guitar and singing political texts, is assisted here by several musicians.
Now, 15 years later Duchesne makes a statement of a completely different nature. On ‘Rflexions’ Duchesne plays classical guitar and that’s just it. No guests musicians, no singing. This must be a release made out of love for the instrument. In 14 tracks Duchesne lets the guitar speak to us. The title ‘Rflexions’ expresses very well the atmosphere of the music, created by the compotions and the sound of the guitar. It brings you in a pensive mood. Romantic, but never in a superficial, easy listening way. Let this one speak for it’s self! (DM)

Of course I could ramble again about a band that no longer exists, but who have made a great impact and still find labels willing to release their stuff. And what’s the problem with that? Nothing I’d say – as long as the music is good, why bother. This new set of Maeror Tri recordings are taken from various cassettes they released when nobody dared touching them for a CD. Of course the digital format serves this kind of music much better. Which is a strange contradiction I guess, since Maeror Tri are essentially a lo-fi band. Obscure drones created by the use of guitars, bass and tons of other sounds built a dark, broading atmosphere. Inhabited by these sounds there is usually not much air, not much light. “Philemon” is an example of such a hermetic closed piece of music. To those who found out about Maeror Tri recentely there are also some suprise tracks to be found here. “Archaic Sensations” for instance is pushed forward by heavy drumming. Not just for completists a much have, but also for the newcomer. And me? Ah, the only thing that I really want is their complete discography available as large box set edition – CDR is ok. (FdW)
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Some people stumbled upon their own unique sound one day and decided to stick to that sound. Jliat is one such person. All of his CD’s upon till now consist of a single track of drones, light hearted, meditative and contemplative. Simply beautiful stuff that creates it’s own world – outside the the real world were music has to change all the time. This CD with a long long title is no different. Maybe a bit more arppeggio, but this is just a minor difference from the previous lot. The reviewers task is simple: beautiful again! (FdW)

To the initiated this might be a surprise release. Achim Wollscheid is not really a musician, but much more a thinker, a visual artist, or maybe a conceptualist. And he of all people on Ritornell, the new dark ambient side kick of Mille Plateaux? Miracles are still part of this world. So should we expect the full 4/4 chairs clapping? Achim doing Oval or SND? Nothing. From what I gather from the package, Achim has a radioprogramm at Radio X and he plays music without telling what he is playing. Rather he searches for the similarities between music and therefor he plays 3 to 5 CD’s simultanously. Of course, a concept is required. In his six pieces, Achim chooses for a drone background, over which he plays his stuff. This is mainly a sort of free improv drumming, scraping, scratching and noisy bits. I’ve heard much music in my life, but I don’t think I recognized a single bit in here. Besides this puzzle, there is another one: does Achim do this on a regular base? Why release this as a CD, and not any other? Nice stuff anyway, not really special, but a nice action as radio DJ. (FdW)