Are You Hearing Things?

A HALF DOZEN AT FULL TILT: As September crept into the calendar so slyly this year you’d hardly know it’s nearing Autumn with the endless Texas heat and humidity, though some of this raucous is likely caused by the sounds herein. This batch rounds off some of the records that almost slipped through the cracks, almost, though after a listen or two grasped the edge of my senses in a way that didn’t let go. Sure, a few of these are wild, a few are a bit laidback, and though these come from opposite ends of the Earth each manages to tilt the listening axis enough to collectively bring the ear to full tilt my fair people! Concept and construction may be quite diverse, but each one of these has an intriguingly embedded passion about it. Listen…..

Bandiera Di Carta (Other People) is a collaboration between duo Tomaga & Pierre Bastien. A squeaky wheel with a beat, a meandering bow without an instrument, an abstract collision between cause and effect. The way this trio works together has some in common with the outsider industrial artists of the late 70’s like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, there is a hollowness to tracks like Pipes of Dunkirk that seem to offer an homage to vacant spaces, adding an vital coordination between percussion and sound effects. The title track is a strange twist that balances tribal drums sounding like an engine trying to kickstart. A broken down post-punk jazz that rides along the edge of half-beaten rock riffs twice removed. This is a jam record with a serious attitude.

Tse Tse Fly Middle East‘s These Are Our Friends Too is a collection, a compilation of many works, spoken word, poetic, looped, with brazen noise, narration, that is gender specific. Yes, this is a savvy selection of female artists and musicians from Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Serbia, Bulgaria, Sweden, and the UK – all with something serious to say – to eradicate FGM or female genital mutilation. The sound of scissors on Iida Aino‘s piece alone is menacing. Through small actions, this harkens to the era of ‘happenings’ and beat poetry – with the searing addition of experimental sounds, even folky, as well as field recordings. The effect is like a deep listening storytelling session with intermittent instrumentation, and other disturbances. I’m reminded of some of the early work by Exene Cervenka – salient overtones floating from lounge to support group-like space to dank club setting. For these ears I’m thankful for the standout work by Nour Sokhon, and for the introduction to her strange world. Though there’s so much more here (and here), well worth multiple spins. This is not female empowerment per se, its a series of voices that move the mind forward.

Interstat is the latest from Slovakian sound-makers Donoval & Fiala on the Buenos Aires-based tape imprint Canigou Records (this is Vol. 2 of the Cascade Series, a collection of recordings exploring ‘process’ and the synchronicity between improvisers). It’s got a divine fluidity that allows the listener in almost immediately. It has this ‘between’ sensibility, ambient, unplugged, warm tones and static – it’s nu-shoegaze with flowing melodies. Or so you think….Though the tracks are simply numbered by Roman numeral chords become screetching loops and tonalities get quite chilly. This is one of those sleepers that keeps you waiting, wanting in anticipation for what its next move might be. This is complex, minimal at times, and maximal in terms of atmospheric fields that are ever-changing. Phenomenal recording.

G.A.M.S. (Karlrecords) is the duo of Andi Stecher (percussion) & Guido Möbius (feedback) and their self-titled album is a pulsating jam session on its own time. The opening track Tremslo is a knockout of haunting peculiarity featuring the vocal striations of Yuko Matsuyama. The duo incorporates gurgling noises, synthesized flutters and stunning percussion throughout. I’m reminded some of the work of Z’EV, though with a spinier rhythm. This is free and progressive post rock with its own demons flying their freak flag in the open, with tendencies towards Latin dance traditions, just a bit futuristic – Rumba is likely the most obvious example here – but the way the beat transforms into a melting pot of running colors makes for the least expected result possible. That and the inebriating reverb of the two tracks featuring Mick HarrisYanari and Fraktat, the latter which is quite stripped down and rebuilt in its seven minute long metamorphosis. And don’t miss the bonus troicale styling variations on Lalaland Symbiose by Felix Kubin + Unprofessional – an assured good time. Revved up.

Colubrid by Machine Listener (Hausu Mountain) is a stunner from end to end. Matthew Gallagher’s sequencing is bloated with beats, and the perfect amount of space to make for where electronic music is in this very moment – it’s proto-techno with a gaming edge. This is one smoking hot tape that has a wry sensibility well disguised as an animated loop-de-loop. Though on tracks like Uroplatus he seems to takes the drama down, stretching the atmospheric space with sniffles and ambient lull allowing for slower beats to permeate. This may, on the outside, seem only for millenials, with a blatant virtual stare and playful knob twiddling, but listen closely for the masterful way these sounds are collaged – he’s like the grandson of Christian Marclay in the making, with the cheekiness of Jason Forrest for good measure.

Possible Worlds by Pip is newly out on the always provocative Sofa label out of Norway. Lengthy chords form a warm dronescape over an hour long. The duo of Torstein Lavik Larsen (trumpet, sampler, synthesizer) and Fredrik Rasten (guitars, electronics) approaches the composition ultra slowly, with fluttering outcomes that drift in and out as if tapping into the subconscious. Infused with gaseous melodies and what sounds to be prepared strings has worn industrial resonances of light tumbling and suction. Within the folds of their playing arises a folky timbre that glistens in the sun even when its tamped way down. Embracing amber coloring along the way the strumming has a wholistic quality, and in this light it is such an earnest piece with a dusty finish.

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