Monday, 25 November 2013

Lume - Rachel Musson, Hannah Marshall, Julie Kjaer + Trio Riot - Hundred Crows Rising, Islington, London, 14th November

Julie Kjaer, Hannah Marshall, Rachel Musson

Two trios at tonight’s Lume tackled the trio format with widely differing approaches.  Performing first were Rachel Musson (sax), Hannah Marshall, (cello), and Julie Kjaer (sax).  They played an improvised set teetering on the edge of the precipice of a noisy canyon; a tight control on their sound kept the full heat they were capable of to a minimum, more effective for its restraint.  Individually as well as collectively the playing was brilliant; Musson emits a fiercely hot Pharaoh Sanders-like blare.  Kjaer’s contributions are full of audible breaths, sudden pops and quacks.  This is post-Coltrane fire-improv cut free from any drummer-imposed structure.  The group trade long whale moans and combative sax duo clash.  Marshall is the pulse and arteries between the flailing activities of the saxophones.  Their set was a dynamic union of artists, breathing and thinking as one.

Mette Rasmussen - Trio Riot
Trio Riot operated in a zone of high energy Ornette Coleman, like a machine gunned ‘Lonely Woman’.  A vibrant punkish aggression to some of the pieces lent their set plenty of incident and action; Sam Andreae (sax) and Mette Rasmussen (sax) were often a squall of abrasion, Rasmussen occasionally reaching Colin Stetson levels of feral growl, while David Meier (drums) launched a tight solo in one section, pauses increasing in length until the silence threatened to swallow him whole.  Trio Riot are a highly effective mix of screaming improv and curling free jazz riffing; a fiery heat tempered by a Sunny Murray constellation of beats, cool blue stars and rattling bells.

Sam Andreae - Trio Riot

David Meier - Trio Riot

Lume listings and info: here.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tape, Áine O'Dwyer, Slow Listener - Cafe Oto, Dalston, London, 7th November

This great triple-bill at the Café Oto was a night to remember.  Main act Tape were somewhere on the post-rock spectrum with lovely winding guitar lines and deep kosmiche hum.  Synths and keyboard drones buzzed and crackled around the smooth plains of stringed melodic momentum.  As good as this band were, the night belonged to the two preceding solo artists; both entirely different in their music but united in the execution of singular musical visions.  Slow Listener is a solo act from the brilliant Exotic Pylon label; working within the noise/concrete field, his sound is full of gonged water bowls, drone wobble, sudden clicks, rusted bloop and hiss, and steadily accumulating rumble.  It all appears aged and rusty, a crumbling sepia image depicting something indistinct but inexplicably upsetting, subtly and simply wrong.  Voices emerge from the fog like muffled snapshots of electronic voice phenomena, emissions from the haunted periphery of radio static.   A performance arcane and brittle; the pained aquatic bangs bouncing around the walls began to resemble forgotten tools in a dead person’s shed, moving and clanging together of their own volition.  Between these two artists, multi-instrumentalist Áine O'Dwyer played a set of unforgettable beauty.  Performing songs from her recent album ‘Anything Bright or Startling’, absolute silence reigned in the audience; these utterly beautiful and deeply beguiling harp compositions were played with heart-stilling grace and a complexity that buried the attention of the listener; it was a rare performance of musical magic, totally captivating and hypnotic.
More on Tape here.

Slow Listener's blog here.
Listen to Áine O'Dwyer's music here.
More about the Cafe Oto here.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Into the Deep Abstract: an interview with Auditory Field Theory

"Evan": the self-aware glitch algorithm running Auditory Field Theory
In the second in a series of interviews with record labels operating in the weird cracks of the internet, we spoke to Evan of Auditory Field Theory.  The label released a run of brilliant albums this year: the crackling threat of The Revenant Sea, the brain-rinsing oddness of Prada & Oregon, the troubling murk of Ape Explorer; all have enriched the ears and mind of this writer.  And so, on to a short Q&A with this wonderful transmitter of sonic oddity.
With the huge amount of music being made and uploaded to the internet every day, how do you cut through the confusion to find artists you are interested in?

It's impossible to cut though. I've always supported the paradigm shift in music with the advent of the Internet. For better or for worse this has created much more choice.
I use social media, some niche blogs and labels to search out new artists. Sometimes I just roll the dice and click around aimlessly.

Are there any albums or artists that have appeared on other labels you would have liked to release yourself?

Countless. But I really enjoy helping the artists who don't have much of an audience, but should. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to move a lot of units quickly, but that's not the point of this whole thing.

Auditory Field Theory releases have so far focussed on abstraction, noise, and weird madness; would you ever consider releasing song-based material, however warped and melted?

Sure. We'll be releasing a tape by the Argentinean artist Oliwa in the coming months. His work is less abstract and more melodic than anything we've released before. It's not my intention to box the label into any specific genre or direction.

Do you align yourself with any particular scene or movement, local or international?

Not really. I tend to keep my head down and do my own thing. I'd like to be more active in the local scene, but unfortunately, I don't have the time right now.

You aim for "audio lust and hazy logic"; does this refer to a particular sound you look for in artists, or a wide ethos?  Can you explain what you look for when selecting artists to work with?

I really enjoy artists who like to explore the deep abstract.  There is nothing in particular I look for when selecting an artist. Most of the time I think it's based on intuition, a gut feeling and maybe a little bit of magic.

Does the "deep abstract" relate to a music without obvious tropes or clichés?

I think it's "abstract" in the sense of art detached from external genres or realities. Free form, no boundaries, zero regard for the establishment, outsider as such. 

Are there any plans for the future that you can share?

Absolutely, we have lots going on. We just released a really good CD by Francisco Meirino. We're also planning stuff from Oliwa, 6&8 and Crystal Hymns in the very near future. So stay tuned...

Discover Auditory Field Theory at their website here, or Bandcamp page here.

Boat-Ting - Steve Noble, Alex Ward + Benedict Taylor, Adam Bohman + Adrian Northover + Catherine Pluygers, God's Mama, Bar & Co, Temple, London, 4th November

Another great evening of exploratory music was had at this edition of Boat-Ting.  The first performance was an excellent solo drum set from Steve Noble featuring maracas, singing gongs, and a tom falling over.  Structured around thick punkish lines and splattered periods of controlled chaos; it was virtuosic but unflashy and definitely not without humour: a squeezy ball was employed, wheezing within the hi-hat.   Steve Noble has an awesome, seemingly bottomless technique, allied with wit and imagination.  His delivery is furious but often suddenly becalmed. Often abrasive, insistently hypnotic, his playing is always surprising and enormously absorbing.

Alex Ward, Benedict Taylor
This duo of Alex Ward (guitar) and Benedict Taylor (viola) begins in a restrained fashion with tentative probing between the pair before they wove a sawing dissonant mesh.  Later a shivering dot-to-dot tap-unison was undone in a barbed and acidic attack with Ward employing an aquatic burble, full of tight and tense emissions, tiny pings and coiling scrabbles.  This was a great pairing with plenty to say, and with much more to explore; a particularly good passage saw the two combine in a shrill upper register haze, the set collapsing in a wheezing, exhausted and gasping mess.
Adrian Northover, Adam Bohman, Catherine Pluygers
Adam Bohman (amplified objects), Adrian Northover (saxophone), and Catherine Pluygers (oboe) were the next group.  They began with the trading of small discrete gestures with gulfs of silence between, the gaps filled with the hum of the bar fridges: a complementary hissing drone.  Their separate compartments of sound came together in a dance of trembling delicacy.  Catherine Pluygers’ melodies were like a frayed ‘La Mer’ with the occasional intruding siren honk.  Adam Bohman throughout transmitted a garbled alien process, packed with crackle.  The set resembled a nest being built; twigs added sparingly but precisely, long considered thought employed before every flutter and scrape.  This method amounted to a considered intensity, built from careful but teetering construction, sudden windows opening onto whispering plains.  The trio played a fiercer second act; Bohman’s oddly vocal jumble-sale of sound whipped up some great noise: ape cries, human moans, dog whimpers.  The buzz and burr of Pluygers and Northover saw them engaging and splitting apart into arcing solos.
Final act of the evening was the awesome God’s Mama, comprising Sibyl Madrigal (voice), Alex Ward (guitar), Darren Morris (bass), and Lee Morris (drums).  This full band setting finally gave Sibyl’s masterwork ‘I Love You So Much’ the backing it deserves, a raging funk monster: dub basslines, jazz breaks; Ward’s guitar slashing, riffing, and exploding in sharp shards of feedback; Sibyl screaming, arms aloft like a poetic, nautical Iggy.  On only their second album, from which most of the set tonight derived, God’s Mama already have a rich catalogue of material; ‘Rice is nice’ is an instant classic, unwinding Slint-like; the vocals a raging beat version of Brian McMahan.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Áine O'Dwyer - Anything Bright or Startling (Second Language) / Music for Church Cleaners (Fort Evil Fruit)

Áine O'Dwyer is a multi-instrumentalist involved in United Bible Studies, Piano Magic, and The Cloisters, among other projects.  Here, we look at two excellent solo albums.
'Anything Bright or Startling' is Aine O'Dwyer's first recording with vocals, an album of bewitching harp compositions.  Beginning with 'Falcon/Egress', this album instantly enchants; the thick bass notes delicately picked and scattered among soft upper-register clusters, the brief intrusion of a hazily buzzing cello adding faint gossamer whispers, her beautiful voice twisting and swooping over the complex melody.  The rest of the album continues in similarly wonderful fashion, a washing tide and tin-whistle provide a haunting interlude during 'Boatman/Hyperbolia'; 'Albion Awake/Lifebuoy' rolls in a furiously unfolding tangle, haunting choral adornments providing an aching coda; 'Silent O Moyle/Truant Crier' climaxes in a fogbank of drone and loud plodding organ chords.  The arrangements are perfectly balanced, the intricate web of harp structures are hung with moist dew drops of piano and glockenspiel; Áine's voice stalks the threads like a musical spider; the whole construction expanding and flexing but always keeping its shape.  This is an album that will capture your imagination for its entire duration; once entered it is only reluctantly and temporarily left.


'Music for Church Cleaners' is the predecessor to 'Anything Bright or Startling'; a collection of pipe organ improvisations performed with the ambient backing of the titular cleaners, evident perhaps most clearly on 'The Feast of Fools' where Áine duets with a hoover.  The sound of these sad and stately improvisations mesh closely with the chatter and clank of the venue's activity, seemingly continuing regardless.  This is not an arid airless recording, it is the sound of wonderful music played in a warm and used space.  The playing is solemn and still; full of echoing drone and soft flowing melodic lines; thick blocks of sound with small trills of whistling wobble.  A beautiful and playful album, entirely absorbing; sad and lilting melodies nestled in warm drones.  One of the highlights is the rising and falling grace of 'In a Fugue State of Mind, Harold Camping's Lament', a high register white-out halfway through empties the music for a moment, the environmental sounds all that briefly remain, a child chattering; before the opening of a sorrowful section, full of long sustained humming chords, overlapping and inter-weaving. 
Áine O'Dwyer has created some magnificent music, catch her performing live at Café Oto on 7th November if you can, it's certain to be a good night.

'Anything Bright or Startling' can be purchased from Second Language records here.
Acquire 'Music for Church Cleaners' from Bandcamp here.
Get yer tickets for Áine's appearance at the Café Oto with Tape and Slow Listener here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Mats Gustafsson & Thurston Moore - Vi Är Alla Guds Slavar (OTOroku)

 ‘Vi Är Alla Guds Slavar’, is a recording of an improvised performance from the second night of the Thurston Moore and Mats Gustafsson 2012 two-day residency at the Café Oto.  Thurston Moore plays the sort of clanking shivering guitar manipulations familiar from the outer reaches of Sonic Youth’s material, and Mats Gustafsson mainly contributes table-top electronics alongside some limited use of his molten saxophone blurt.
The first side is full of material for the sonically hungry: screaming metal scrapes, revving buzzes, clanking bells, melted gongs; a locked mass of noise, heated and rusty, full of grain and weathered causticity, a fierce acid bath of noise.  Moore patiently repetitive before a latter-half tilt tips him into slashes of animal savagery.  Gustafsson is constantly on the attack, his contributions thunderous and unrelenting.  The sounds made by each blur into one; all gestures are thrown into a collective pool of roaring nastiness.  A late freak-out meshes Moore intimately with the destructive electronics.  It’s the fluctuations that make this record, while it is never less than savage in delivery, it always reaches for sterner territories just when you think the intensity has peaked.  A section near the end sees the duo dialling through space-static on some kind of colossal cosmic radio; occasionally encountering the explosion of solar flares and an ever present lethal flesh-shredding sun wind.  It ends in a wobbling high-register shriek from Gustafsson, the bent strings of Moore sounding like the hefting of huge boulders into a lake.
The second side is no less gripping.   Gustafsson switches to saxophone during the more demure opening, Moore rifling through draws of clanging bolts, the saxophone like a chattering bird with a rusty hinged metallic jaw, dancing around the tumbling industrial dust of the arid scrabbling guitar.  Returning to electronics, Gustafsson reverts to the first side's scraping dissonance, harsh and burying.  This must have rattled the windows live. 
This is a duo noise performance of fierce violence, both artists operating at their abstract limits, no quarter given.  It buries the listener in a landslide of nullifying sludge.  Play it as loud as you can bear, you may be evicted but it’ll be worth it.
Purchase the album here.