Aelters :: Ardchilds’ Com.undo (Sonig, CD)
From the top, Aelters, the French guy who sadly left DAT Politics to pursue a career in sound mayhem, has established a fast-paced jumble of cartoonish, sloppy funk. I like the harkening of “Sha-zaam” on the lovely “Je T’Aime” – or at least that’s what it sounds like. Sort of reminding me of when I was a kid running through the house with my own superhero declarations. This cut-up, re-pasted and spun backwards epic is literally all over the place. From quickie, colorful punches to little kids just mumbling in a sing-song way – this is far more accessible than his former more academic feeling work. In fact, this takes out the garbage with a Gumby/Pokey humor. It’s all in the glitch – and all the glitches are packed inside Ardchilds’ Com.undo. If there were a single for this quirk-fest, it would have to be the tight,
upright “Staropeakotop.” And so goes a fine new offering from a true knob twiddler with a microfine approach to process.
Kaffe Matthews :: Eb + Flo (Annetteworks, 2CD)
The sound periscope is up and surveying the space for its miniscule findings. A drone that is apparent, yet sheer warns with its sine wave presence on “Long Line Starting”. This warps sound in ways that are subtly disturbing, yet refined from previous works in an allegorical
way. This could be a soundtrack, but the image would be somewhat blurry and undefined to the extent that those who are prone to noodling in their seats would consider venturing from the theater. This could be a radio play, but there may be assumed technical difficulties due to the obvious play on the genre and its basic physicality. It has these inherent tensions making it a heady listen. “Clean Tone Falling” derives its super-science allure by incorporating the feedback of an eerily deformed Theremin that sounds as if it is falling from space and landing on Jupiter.
As a symphonic work, Matthews has certainly adapted sounds that may be a source for futuristic dance and performance art – with which I am sure she has already beaten me to the punch line. On the brilliantly edited “Get Out More,” the uncanny resemblance to pretty much nothing I’ve heard before or since takes patchwork snippets of sounds and almost literally solders them together. Gone are some of the more tranquil longer passages as heard on “Cecile” and “Bea” as this 100+ minute double CD set, makes listeners wonder where the alphabet might take her whimsy next. “Much Room” starts the Flo (disc 2) possibly at sea – Bleeps ahoy! As a sound architect in 6 years Matthews has developed a well-respected catalogue that experiments with the brilliant textures of atonal reclusivity. No doubt that she has become a forerunner of sorts for women in electronica, with very few making any certain steps (save Joyce Hinterding and maybe Mira Calix). This is the recording that not only puts her squarely on the map, but maps out a long future ahead. The track “In the Dust” is on fire. Literally fielding an open net mic to do a collection of random bits of streaming, flying residues. Up against a curtain of cinemascope-wide sound waves Eb + Flo balances itself out inclusively.
Tu M’ and the Magical Mystery Orchestra (Aesova, CD)
Michigan-based label Aesova does what all others should be considering these days – it mixes sound metaphors. Here, the secretive collective only known as the Magical Mystery Orchestra plays compositions by these two young Italian electronic busy bodies, which are then transitioned back for the composers to edit, warp and re-program into their own reformulated ditties. Kicking off this 10-track, bright pink-covered 5-incher is “Glamour” – a fusion of happier than Pokemon
vs. awkward Kronos Quartet toy piano aesthetics. A sudden shift to “Before the Rain” sounding a whole lot like contemporary (and co-Fallt labelmate) Warmdesk. At first it was jarring to hear anything by Tu M’ that even had the slight hint of anything resembling electronica – but this proves that through collaboration and interpretation new territory can be covered flawlessly. That said, this is far from something you might anticipate being remixed by Plaid or even Miss
Kittin – but it steals something from the genre of the moment while giving back so much more.
Though I would bank on these sound artists – and I mean artists with a capital “A” – to produce many ingenious eyebrow-curling demonstrations of their fusion of offbeat collage and smart mind-funk over the next handful of years. By combining traditional instrumentation of the Orchestra alongside the manipulated electronics of Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli there is an instantaneous sonic synergy that is speculatively warm. Their “Singing In The Rain” rips the feet right off Gene Kelly and replaces them with something ala the crevices of Richard D. James vs. James Brown at say a fashion show catwalk-off in Milan. Only this time everything has been miniaturized and the audience are Coliseum-like blood thirsty revelers. Be (very) afraid (but know the sound shapes herein mean no real harm – they are hear to entertain all your senses that are dormant)!
Stephan Mathieu, Raboud Mens, Janek Schaefer, Timeblind :: Quality Hotel (Mutek_rec/Oral, CDs)
One quality hotel room, four artists from four countries and seven tracks recorded during 2002′s Mutek Festival in Montreal – what a great community idea! The track titles are “going-up!” (ie: Tenth Floor, Sub-basement Level, Eighteenth Floor, etc). There is a lot of breathing room here – a lot of minimal and/or architectural space for these composers to play in. This, at times, sounds like a slow-mo ping pong match in space then next thing you know its an electronica stir-fry.
Though improvised, you would think this was a formative band coming together in a retrospective manor. These four could have truly started a significant trend for residency-like collaborative recordings, and judging by the communal atmosphere at Mutek, even among the likes of Atom Heart, Coil and Ritchie Hawtin- the atmosphere is ripe for endless possibilities. This is one part sensitive launch pad, one part quirky experimentation and one part heady, overly conscious fiction. How many parts does that leave the listener to interpret the message…if there were one? Tranquil moments turn suspenseful, turn agitated and take you on an active journey – free-falling, dissonant and immortal. There are moments here that one may describe as obtusely retractive and distant embracing the ear like a phantom wind.