Various Artists :: Total 5 (CD by Kompakt)
Phew! I am in a heavy sweat, breakdown, oh yeah. And so goes the new release from Germany’s Kompakt imprint. Once again offering a sterling release of funkified electronic splendor. The playful Duran Duran addendum “All She Wants Is” by SCSI-9 (Anton Kubikov and Maxim Milutenko) just uses up every opportunity to make the listener get physical and dance. And this collection is just brighter than the sun including tracks like Superpitcher’s buzzworthy 80s meets electro “Mushroom” and M. Mayer’s tech-bent “Speaker” creation that brings back only the most filtered and worthy aspects of say Front 242 and Bigod20. Elsewhere here you will find the exalted state of aural ecstasy as the Burger/Voight team mixes up Phong Sui’s “Wintermute” which is a sort of temporal zone with guitars and that sort of flavor. The celebrated T. Raumschmiere (Marco Haas) puts the “Total” into the title by fortifying his track with enough percussive bass riffs than you could shake a rump at (did I say that?). Before I go, I care to mention that the smart track here is Thomas Fehlmann’s venture into staccato static. His layering of vinyl and itchy beats is non-toxic so dive into this pool of “Radeln” and swim upstream with its second cousin “Nepal” by newcomer Mikkel Metal. “Normandie 2″ takes this full experience to a fine close and shows off the numbing bass of Jonas Bering. Anyhow, I am just abducted by this late Summer release, which should have been released at the height of July; though it will keep the heat flowing through the holidaze.
Satoru Wono :: Sonata for Sine Waves and White Noise (CD by Sonore Records)
Essentially, this is a four track long-player, with the actual “Sonata” separated into four parts itself (Sonata, Scherzo, Adagio and Divertimento). Satoru Wono warms us up with an “Overture” that sounds at first like a grocery checkout cash machine, and suddenly its repetitiveness has a beat, a presence, a mechanized mind of its own. The “Sonata” sets pitch free and wide, frequencies so bright that you may find pleasure in their resonance with the many devices that surround us in hospitals, offices, airports and everywhere in between. This is like a disembodied pathway to the edge of the future. Like Pita and Carsten Nicolai, Wono uses sinewaves and other mechanics to speak his universal language. He doesn’t treat his audience like dogs or seals, anticipating a higher sense of aural perception; rather he uses the entire spectrum of sound in a compartmentalized way, sort of like a series of finite vignettes. By using pacing and punctuation the sound is uniquely alien. Perhaps this is an online live recording from Pluto? One thing is for sure, this may encourage some to set their mobile phone not to chirp “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Sonata for Sine Waves and White Noise does for electronic music what Jeff Koons did for the visual arts, to subvert the audience’s perception of the immediate exterior with a sense of street smart satire.
Rechenzentrum :: Director’s Cut (CD/DVD by Mille Plateaux)
OK – so here I sit in the dark in literal surround sound. I am haunted by the palest yellow flicker and clap track, click percussion of “gaujaq totale” (I knew that one day this wireless keyboard would come in handy). This Director’s Cut set comes with both an audio CD and a 2 sided DVD (PAL/NTSC) for your total A/V pleasure.
Like other recordings from the venerable Mille Plateaux imprint, this is almost monolithic and once the visuals are added, albeit blurry, austere and conceptually minimal, the picture is painstakingly painted. The creeping repetitive image of an aircraft landing, layered with television static/interference/white noise breeds an iconic patterning in its implied sense of imminent danger and importation of short term memory testing. “Slate” is an electronic river, fountain or other source of liquid pleasure. The color striations play with deconstructed CRTs to the quiver of a young caterpillar. “Bleichbaduberbruckung” uses sepia toned viscosities to contextualize patterned distortions. The video here is a bit generic and blatantly amateurish-looking, with a bit of an “evening news” graphic look to it. “Projectktor” appeals to all those who appreciate the artist’s hand in the art-making process, one film frame lingers until the tonal shift in the track moves and then there are overtures of Fritz Lang and Kraftwerkian radioactivity. “Paramount” blends monotone shapes in thick layers, with a bellow-full, percussive sense of containment. In “Happy End,” a fragile, agile, gawky and choppy beat superimposes itself in a short, sweet conclusion.
The audio disc goes a bit further by offering you a “secret ending” as well. Overall the visuals are pretty trippy, lending to the live experience by adding a new colorful dimension of shapes, images and other randomness to the musical mix. This threesome’s video maker, Lillevän has scratched and distorted “35MM” is a way that recalls early Cabaret Voltaire reels. The latent obscurity and repetitive imaging plays well in a live setting, but here on my 13″, my eyes are popping a bit. So, with a complete video soundtrack, the tracks have a seamless immediacy associating a multimedia rethinking of how a collective can better market their creative process. The wash of flexible tones meets in the middle for Director’s Cut– a feast your ears and eyes.
Gareth Mitchell (a.k.a. Philosopher’s Stone) :: August; Snow; Pieces (CD
Three tracks, thirty minutes, in a limited edition of only 141 copies!
What Greece’s Absurd offers the few who have access to it, is a complete
suspension of linear sound. Gareth Mitchell has created an apocalyptic
sense of atonal ambience that distills immediate gratification with
silent tension. Tiny icy tones replicate, divide and detach from the
center in a informal dance that leaves much to chance and surprise.
Though after a bit, a rhythm starts forming as the repetition leads way
to more minimal, singular high-pitched tones. There is magic in the
music, but it is also inherently distancing. What is being said here
seems somewhat parenthetical, or is like some random scan of the pages
of Mitchell’s aural journal. The final track is six minutes of
electronic bliss and angst superimposed upon each other as if it were a
space missionary lost in the cavity of time.
Shifts :: Vertonen 1 to 7 (CD on Humbug)
Am I on a creeky old pirate ship set adrift in the Mediterranean? Frans
de Waard and Co. have concocted a raspy, drone induced recording
drenched in ambiguous atmosphere. This reminds me of a classic,
heart-stopping horror flick without the action, but with all the
pretense – think Cronenberg sans the gore. Could it be a walk in a
London park at midnight with Big Ben vaguely chiming in the distance?
Perhaps a small town village where an ice storm has ravaged the area
electricity? After being recorded in 1995 then re-mastered in 2002
Vertonen is part Maeror Tri, part Wes Craven. This effort
keeps the ear guessing and dizzy simultaneously. This would make a great
soundtrack, but might work best in an atypical environment, like an
elevator, locker room or state building. Fragile and minimal, this
unpredictable recording has a distinctly original feel and is one of the
finest pieces of experimental electronics this year.