Number 69

Welcome to a pitch black world, inhabited by people that call themselves En
Nihil and have a pre-occupation with death. Drenched in reverb, delayed
endless drones, from which a dark beast arises. ‘Open Your Eyes And See
Death’ is a perfect example, the closing track ‘Drift III’ has a synth line
played in droning mood. If you like stuff from bands like Yen Pox or Caul,
then this will appeal to you too. File under ‘pitch black’. (FdW)
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>From the Cold Lands of Moscow we have the second CD of this
‘ambient-techno’ trio Species Of Fishes. Well, ambient… this finds them
more in techno territory, where they have learned more skills of the
current waves in techno trade. Don’t think that everything in this area
that is good comes from the UK or Germany. SOF go in many directions, like
the harsh hip hop rhythm or the minimal approach. The track that is called
[ctrl +s] could have been made by early Panasonic. Towards the end of this
CD the longer spacier tracks rule the silver shiny disc. Maybe the mixed
interest in the various dance directions will work against these boys, but
for home listening, a well varied CD is delivered. If their first one
appealed to you, then get out to get this one too. (FdW)
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The fifth part of the ongoing collaboration between the old hero of cosmic
music and the new master of ambient electronica. Like on Part IV, they are
helped, on two tracks, by Bill Laswell. This is the sort of music that has
nothing do with musical innovation, progress, but therefore it is downright
retro music. And oh yes: I love it. Part IV has been in my CD player so
often on those Sunday mornings while reading the newspaper, drinking coffee
and talking to the cat. No doubt this CD is going to be my next Sunday
morning greatest hit. (FdW)
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TIPSY – TRIP TEASE (CD by Asphodel)
Imagine a high tech cocktail made from one part Martin Denny, two parts
“Organ Transplants” by Stock, Hausen & Walkman, with a dash of Combustible
Edison added in. Sounds tasty, eh? It is. Campy, amusing, irreverent, and
obscenely engaging are all words that describe “Trip Tease”. Welcome to the
contrived, market-targeted, safe and ultimately, DISPOSABLE world of Tipsy.
Much like last year’s derivative and tedious wonderboys Loop Guru, Tipsy
fit their niche so well that nothing is left to the imagination. Pop this
lil’ puppy in the player and crank it up! It’s the best party music you’ve
ever heard! You love all the catchy hooks and humorous musical jokes.
Thirteen perfect pop gems. Play it a few more times and you’ll start to
notice that nothing’s been forgotten, it’s a completely perfect listening
experience. But wait! Around the tenth listen the whole thing has been
reduced to a boring and predictable formula. Without any of the rough edges
or esprit of “Organ Transplants”, which it so obviously rips off, this
album can be expected to rack up some huge sales with the hip set. What’s
to not like about this record? Nothing and everything. Who got the soul?
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PUBLIC WORKS – MATTER (CD by Staalplaat)
The cultural critique continues? Last November Staalplaat released the
seminal Public Works platter `Music with Sound’ on CD. Hot on it’s heels
comes this package, a rather different beast. Gone is the overt cut
up’n’collage technique of old, to be replaced by a more song-orientated
approach. Well, not really songs, but these tracks do have `proper’ rhythms
and bass lines etc, as well as the ubiquitous cut up vocals. The disk
begins with deep slurred voices (performedrather than sampled?) and
threatening strings. The next couple of tracks disappoint, but things pick
up by `Follow Me’, where the sounds get noticeably louder and more
exaggerated. Track six (`Artifice’) has some darn good moments that could
pass for Tricky (honest!), while `Progeny’ is the kind of slurred, drunken
jazz that A Small Good Thing aspire to. The last track is the most
bizarre, sounding like an atonal Chinese 78 – big social realism and all
that. So take note – while this CD isn’t Music with Sound it has a charm
all its own. (RTH)
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(Both CDs on Empreintes Digitalis, Canada)
Francis Dhomont was born in 1926 and studied under, amongst others, Nadia
Boulanger and Charles Koechlin. His theoretical texts and essays are
regularly published in various international journals, he lectures
regularly and is the author of many radio programmes for national Canadian
radio. He has received numerouis prestigous awards and now divides his time
between Quebec and France, teaching electroacoustic composition and theory.
These two releases are part of the same group of works titled ‘Cycle Of
Depths’, which is comparable to his previous ‘Cycle Of Wanderings’, not
only availible on Empreintes Digitalis but also on BVHaast, a Dutch label
partly lorded over by Willem Breuker.
‘Sous Regard …’ or ‘Under The Glare Of A Black Sun’ to folks like you and
I was originally produced in 1979-80, completed in 1981 and since then has
won a bunch of awards for electroacoustic composition. It was inspired by
the works of British psychoanalyst R.D.Laing (author of ‘The Politics Of
Experience’ and ‘The Divided Self’ and one of the first in his profession
to explore the potential of LSD in analysis), and tells the story of a slow
descent into madness. The spoken texts are quoted from the works of Laing,
Plato, Kafka and Buchner.The piece makes us share the anxiety, anguish and
solitude of the schizophrenic, attempting to present us with a sonorous
image of a (mostly) inaccesible world. Laing himself once said ‘I cannot
experience your experience, or vice versa’. Dhomont presents the experience
he thinks they (schizophrenics) have, constructing a more general myth
through which the ‘normal’ man may discover his own schizoid traits. ‘Sous
le…’ tells us about ourselves, about the terrifying solitude that faces
every man, as if we are sitting at the end of a cavern capable only of
looking ahead.
There is certainly an element of underlying danger here – not from external
forces but rather from those sharp, shiny, sterile, surgical razors with
which we perform psychological surgey on ourselves as we lay on a
ramshackle operating table constructed out of our belief systems which
itself is placed in a dimly lit corner of a huge reverberant space. Bats in
the belfry. Too many toys in the attic. No room to spare in this warehouse
where ominous chords pace the staves…This is the domain of archetypes
Foret Profonde (which sadly translates as ‘Deep Forest’ – remember that
abysmally beige and blandish semi- Gnu Age array of ethnic samples and drum
machines with the same name released three or so years ago ?) is fabulous.
Foret Profonde is the second part of, what is till now, a diptych (preceded
by the above). A third part is imminent.
Styled an acousmatic melodrama, Foret Profonde is based on the fascinating
book ‘The Uses Of Enchantment’ by Bruno Bettelheim, and it has gradually
taken shape as a composition over fifteen years, culminating in two years’
final production. It is, like Bettelheim’s book, a guided tour of the
childhood soul, which itself is nothing more than a return to initiatory
world – both cruel and reassuring – of fairy tales. The composition is
divided into 13 sections (6 of which are purely instrumental) all of which
contain some form of quotation from Schumann’s op.15: Scenes From A
Childhood. Texts by Hans Christian Andersen, Dante, Those Grimm Brothers,
Shakespeare and of course Bettelheim himself are used in the piece.
The recurring theme in fairy tales of being lost in a forest (it’s up to
you to work out the psychological parallels here) is reiterated here too.
To anybody who has heard fairy tales, this image is unforgettable. As
Bettelheim says, “…without fantasies to give us hope, we do not have the
strength to meet the adversities of life. Childhood is the time when
fantasies have to be nurtured.”
Actually, this is probably the best CD I have heard so far this year.
Monstrous. Unpredictable. Hallucinatory. It plays on the memories we all
have that we connect to specific sounds. It is an intriguing voyage into
familiar and dangerous territories where branches snap for no reason, where
long shadows flit between the tree trunks and the passing breeze carries
traces of wolf-breath. It’s the place where trapped birds are princesses,
where the lure is golden, where banished sons become kissable frogs.
Magickal slumber, castles and caves, locked rooms (with the key left in the
lock, of course) and the endless growth of entangling vegetation…(MP)

Sometimes when I hear a new release I like it immediately and buy it. Other
times I know I have to play it a few times to grow into it, but still buy
it immediately. I know I am going to like it after playing it a few times.
I immediately liked this seven inch when I first played it. It is the sound
of a needle that skipped onto the label, a terrible noise that normally
makes you jump up and run to your turntable in complete distress, because
it sounds like the needle is getting fucked. But now it is quite pleasant
to know somebody recorded it for me so now I own this sound on record, and
can use it whenever I want, without having to create the sound myself, and
going through the risk of destroying a good needle. The concept of this
release is a very strong one, since it is a sound everybody recoginizes and
associates with a record needle going on the label, a mistake, but it is on
a record! Concrete sounds as this one have a great impact on people. It is
like Steve Reich said about “Concrete Music” when people like Schaeffer and
Pierre Henry started to manipulate the sounds they recorded, they also took
away some of the original emotional impact these concrete sounds have on
people. The sound of a ringing telephone has a different impact on somebody
compared to the ‘the manipulated, timestretched, pitched, backwards with
effects version’. But of course; maybe there still will be a ‘fingerprint’
of the ringing phone in the end result that makes you run to the phone
every time. Subconsciencely the original sound still works.
This 7″ is accompanied by two pieces of text of which I will put one down
here. It is an adapted piece of text from Marcel Proust;
“…often one hears nothing when one listens for the first time to a piece
of ‘music’ that is at all complicated. And yet when, later on, this track
had been played to me two or three times I found that I ‘knew’ it…And so
it is not wrong to speak of hearing a thing for the first time. If one had
indeed, as one supposes, received no impression from the first hearing, the
second, the third would be equally “first hearings” and there would be no
reason why one should ‘understand’ it any better after the tenth. Probably
what is wanting, the first time, is not comprehension but memory. For our
memory, relatively to the complexity of the impressions which it has to
face while we are listening, is infinitesimal, as brief as the memory of
someone who in their sleep thinks of a thousand things and at once forgets
them…Of these multiple impressions our memory is not capable of
furnishing us with an immediate picture.” (RM.)
Address: Adverse – BM Fuzz London WC1N 3XX – UK