New writing

Newer articles and reviews. Sometimes full, sometimes an excerpt and a link.

TaikOz Future Directions, 14/6/2014

Disclaimer: I learned taiko with members of TaikOz for a number of years.

It’s taken a while to write this. I’ve felt conflicted, as I am a TaikOz tragic and want them to succeed and grow – but I’m also a gig-goer with limited time and limited cash. And I like to spend my time (and money) accordingly, and to feel some kind of reward – not always in the form of back-slapping woo-consuming-arts! kind of way, either – for the investment of both.

Unfortunately, the Future Directions gig was one of the poorest shows I’ve seen from the ensemble. There’s been member injuries to contend with – artistic director Ian Cleworth was not on stage – but I feel Kaoru Watanabe‘s guest artistic direction didn’t provide enough cohesion to the performance to pull it off. (more…)

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Shakuhachi concert, 28/5/2014

Simon Barker performs.

Simon Barker performs.

I spent part of last night at a performance of shakuhachi and percussion works at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. The players ranged from student to shakuhachi master (and grandmaster) level, and while the event did have some slightly off-target moments, it was good to see how a casual approach to programming and execution – and at a free concert! – can yield rewards. (more…)

New The House In The Woods review

My review of The House In The Woods’ Bucolica has been published over at Cyclic Defrost. I liked it so much I actually bought my own copy before I’d even finished writing the review.

A sample:

The principle of Bucolica appears to be obfuscation; snatches to gain orientation. ‘Untitled Blackniss’ is the sound of waiting, as something large and mechanised – accompanied by the pan-pipes of the damned – comes. ‘Dark Lanterns’ offers a feast of winds and pregnant statis, while ‘Favershell’ is a soundtrack to a procession of the devotees of Dagon, heard from a few streets over. You can hear something either excellent or fucked is occurring just over there – but you’re uncertain you need to see it. It’s not going to make you feel any better, is it?

Read the full review at Cyclic Defrost.

New Nagual review

My review of Nagual‘s self-titled LP has been posted at Cyclic Defrost. I swear the people at that site must think I’m like some kind of Kurtz, going dark for ages and then sending strange proclamations downriver when least expected. Suffice it to say I just wrote what I heard.

Here’s a sample:

The track moves slowly, steadily towards the light until, a third through, a buzzy, busy sound (akin to a melodica or harmonium) comes through. It’s a Carnatic contender against the large-fisted drone, and becomes more insistent as the track moves, by turns sinuous and deadly, as if charming electronic snakes. The ear’s inability to discern actual instruments – was that a clarinet? – places the listener delightfully off balance a very vocal line swoops against itself, like Narcissus and his own reflection. Until, that is, the track becomes a riot of either buzzsaws or traffic noises, like a Tzadik album abandoned by a freeway, left to bum its way to Masada.

You can read the whole thing here. I really enjoyed this album, so I hope you enjoy the review.

Review: Frank Bretschneider – Super.Trigger (and some gear)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of Frank Bretschneider‘s Super.Trigger album for Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:

Eschewing romanticism doesn’t remove character, though some tracks are more favoured in this regard. ‘Pink Thrill’ is all nerdly tetchiness, but ‘Machine.Gun’ is the clear winner. Staccato drum rolls imitate the track’s titular weapons while a frenetic background conjures the image of a gunfight held over the top of a Blaxploitation soundtrack. It crackles, and when the end comes – in an echo-chamber of steely ricochets – it’s triumphant. Worth special note too is the album’s attention to bass sounds. On some tracks – the opener ‘Big.Hopes’, and ‘Day.Dream’ in particular – there’s window-shaking kicks and tones that are so immense that it’s difficult not to fist-pump in celebration. Coupled with the appropriate atmosphere, such as the dubby, dark sound of ‘Over.Load’, it’s overwhelmingly great.

You can read the full review here. But the reason I’m linking it today is that this rather neat article details Bretschneider’s studio setup and workflow. If you’re interested in electronic music (and like the track above) then you’ll find some good info in there.

(As an aside, I like reading this and discovering that I mentioned fist-pumping. I hadn’t even seen Regular Show when I wrote this, but the power of the Fist Pump can’t be denied. See below.)

 

New Arche review

My review of the debut from Arche has been published on Cyclic Defrost.

Aside from the pads which flow over the track like bioluminescent waves, there’s a lot in opener ‘Elevate’ that would sit nicely on Coil’s Time Machines. The same late-period Coil approach to roiling, unfurling sounds is present, adding mystery to a soundscape that has distinct physical/inner-ear effects if played through headphones. It’s as if the listener is zapped with a ray gun of restful unease.

You can read the rest here.

New split 12-inch review

My review of If, Bwana and Gerald Fiebig’s split 12-inch on Attenuation Circuit has gone live at Cyclic Defrost. You can listen to excerpts from the record here

Gerald Fiebig’s ‘Sustained Development’ features the same reedy organ tones, but with more organisation. They’re constructed in waves, creating a feeling of motion, of tidal drift. It’s a slow-burn piece, but seems more at home in the ambient Nurse With Wound part of the world; its slow iterations and feeling of bobbing, rising waves would sit well with any fans of NWW’s Salt Marie Celeste.

Read the rest here. 

New Yellow6 review

Another Cyclic Defrost review has gone live. It’s a write-up of Yellow6‘s 5 EP, part of Silber Records’ 5 in 5 project. Five minutes, five songs. A buck to download. 

‘5.2’ sounds like Sling Blade-era Daniel Lanois, while ’5.3′ brings to mind Charlie Owen’s guitar work on Louis Tillett’s Midnight Rain. ‘5.4’ brings a venomous, plodding chunk to the mix, coupled with a howling noise which manages not to upset the measured, clean chord pluckings that command attention, leading to the EP’s final Godspeed You Black Emperor guitar-neighbourhood track.

The review is here.

New Carl Kruger review

My Cyclic Defrost review for Carl Kruger’s Sexist Tranny (out on Silber Records) has now gone live. A brief sample?

The prevailing feeling of the recordings – and their provenance is unknown, buried in multiple layerings and laptop manipulations – is that of deep space, or of machinery talking to itself. Opener ‘Dead Biz Novelle’ is the sound of gigantic terrestrial radios, tuning from bogs to the vistas of cold space. ‘Bead Hell Oven Zit’ is a record of someone dropping their keys down the back of a DEC PDP-9 while it complains, loudly.

Enjoy.