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    Mika Vainio + Joachim Nordwall – Monstrance

    October 8th, 2013

    Mika Vainio + Joachim Nordwall - Monstrance

    According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, in the Roman Catholic Church, a monstrance is “an open or transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Host is exposed for veneration.” Outside of the Roman Catholic Church, Monstrance is a compact disc by Finnish electronic musician Mika Vaino, whose name sounds like a cross between Mickey Mouse and Keiji Haino, and Joachim Nordwall, a like-minded artist whose last name is not to be confused with a small Arctic whale. Kicking off the album with the perfectly titled “Alloy Ceremony,” Joachim grabs his bass and bakes a big ol’ wedding cake in the form of a slow, low-pitched pulse, accompanied by Mika, who slathers on a hefty helping of Sonic Youth-like behind-the-bridge picking and droning feedback guitar icing. Martha Stewart would be proud–even more so if she rocked out to this in JAIL (again).

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    Cristian Vogel – Eselsbrucke

    September 13th, 2013

    Cristian Vogel - Eselsbrucke

    Cristian Vogel is a composer of electronic music who has been at it since the late 1980s, pumping out a seemingly endless amount of tracks full of avant grade-influenced techno and pop, as well as music for dance, film, sound art and whatever else strikes his fancy. His latest album, the depressingly atmospheric Eselsbrucke, opens with “Invisible Planets,” which borrows a few lines from the movie My Dinner With Andre that describe the pretty good possibility that artificial intelligence / robots will take over the Earth, leaving small pockets of savage humanity cowering in the shadows. After a short while, Vogel spritzes the speech with a blanket of gleaming, pinging electronics until it’s totally obliterated. Eventually, the clouds clear and the talking wins out, as the speaker is caught ordering an espresso at a cafe, which completely deflates the menacing mood established at the beginning. Insert a chuckle here. “Caswels Genius Stack” descends into the hazy house of a homely handmaiden, while “Mount the 137″ blows synth bubbles all around your noggin with the help of a lone, muted beat, then treats you to the worst kind of aluminum-drenched hangover that definitely coats, but will never soothe or protect. “Snaker” slithers along, boasting more glimmering, reverb-soaked synth stabs and squeaky percussion knocks. “Ballad” falls further into the handmaiden’s dark boiler room without a flashlight, bumps into walls and knocks over stuff–all with the reverb turned up to 111.

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    Berangere Maximin – Infinitesimal

    August 27th, 2013

    Berangere Maximin - Infinitesimal

    Berangere Maximin is one of those rare birds: a female composer of experimental music. Let’s throw on our binoculars and take a quick look at her life. Calling Paris France home, she has been studying and working on electro-acoustic music under the guidance of the INA-GRM’s Denis Dufour since way back in the Gay ’90s. Wait a minute, wasn’t that the 1890s? I mean the Grunge ’90s! Following her debut on Sub Rosa, No One Is An Island, her second album on that label is called Infinitesimal. Although that word is really hard to spell, the flowing music contained on this disc of the compact variety is really easy to listen to–unless you’re an uptight narcissistic control freak bureaucrat who just got hit in the eye with a whiffle ball, then diagnosed with a brain tumor.

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    Grauton – Zwischen

    July 30th, 2013

    Grauton - Zwischen

    As the old saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose.* So it goes with Karen Geyer, who is also known as Grauton. A musician hailing from Zurich, Switzerland, Grauton grabs everyday objects like bicycles, fans, kettles and stools prepares them with wood, wire, rubber, cord and masking tape, and sets them into gentle motion with small electrical motors. The Zwischen LP collects two side-long pieces of such matter. The first side is primarily comprised of the mechanical tapping of what sounds like detuned guitar strings spritzed with occasional layers of scraping, clattery ambience via the rattling of bicycle wheels, electric fans, etc. Side two is dominated by what sounds like someone hitting a pick against guitar strings, supported by more rhythmic chatter. The overall sound bears a striking resemblance to the work of Fluxus artist Joe Jones, especially his Solar Music and Back and Forth Exhibition Sound CDs. Fans of mellow, meandering, mechanical ambience should enjoy the oddly relaxing Zwischen. It’s a gallery edition if I’ve ever seen one, complete with a full-color insert containing a photo of a table set up with all of Karen’s gear.

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    Bryan Lewis Saunders – Bed Bugs 1-3

    June 28th, 2013

    Bryan Lewis Saunders - Bed Bugs 1-3

    Painter, musician, poet, performer and all around twisted Renaissance man Bryan Lewis Saunders is one talented and prolific individual. In addition to all of the aforementioned endeavors, he also somehow finds time to belch out what he calls “stand up tragedy,” a depressing, morose form of spoken word. Bed Bugs 1-3 is a whole LP’s worth of such haunting stories culled from the author’s tumultuous life down in Johnson City, Tennessee. The album opens with some diary-like entries detailing Bryan’s interactions with an emotionally disturbed girl–all delivered via tinny yet menacing spoken vocals that sound like they’re coming in over a telephone line and rudely splattered with swirling noise drones.

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    Herbert Deutsch – From Moog to Mac

    May 28th, 2013

    Herbert Deutsch – From Moog to Mac

    Composer Herbert Deutsch (born 1932) was Professor Emeritus of Music at Hofstra University, where he taught for a mere 55 years and inaugurated their electronic music studio, and many other music programs. In the early 1960s, he collaborated with Robert Moog on the first Moog synthesizer, providing a musician’s insight to counterbalance and aid the technical breakthroughs of the “mad scientist.” As you may have guessed from its title, the From Moog to Mac CD is a collection of rarely heard yet historic works caught on tape during the early years of the development of the synth, appended with some later pieces on the personal computer. “A Christmas Carol” (1963) presents via tape manipulation an array of cut-up musique concrete sounds—including snippets from a radio play containing news reports of church bombings in Birmingham, Alabama—along with piano, drums, cymbals, ratchet, radio test oscillators, choral singing and scads of low-end synth damage. Some nice drones, echoes and knocks also get thrown into the mix. “The Abominatron” (1964) was the nickname Robert gave the first Moog synth. In this track, he gives a demonstration of the newly emerging instrument, verbally introducing each sound sample. Dissonant and consonant organ-like stabs, and plenty of bleeping sawtooth and squarewave mayhem dot this crude soundscape.

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    Ellen Band + David Lee Myers – Two Ships

    April 14th, 2013

    Ellen Band + David Lee Myers - Two Ships

    Two Ships is a set of live, improvised electro-acoustic music by the duo of Ellen Band–who is actually a woman, not a band–and David Lee Myers, who is actually a man, not a woman. (For the record, I’m not a human, I’m a spambot.) For the better part of an hour, these two buddies respond to each other’s sounds and push all kindsa aquatic, nocturnal clatter out of their equipment into the ether for any and all humans–and, as the sound waves propagate into infinity, eventually aliens–to enjoy. To quilt these intricate sonic tapestries, Ellen transforms field recordings of real world sounds, while David deploys custom-built electronic circuit boxes that feed back on themselves. The result is 12 tracks and 50 minutes worth of subtle static, dizzy percussion, babbling brooks, whistling wind, pinging metal and rusted scrapes that percolate and bubble along in a steady state, but never really climax. The booklet’s liner notes are mostly composed of a conversation between the two regarding their approach to playing together, in case you want to know how all of the hubbub came about.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21035-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 12 Total Time: 50:08 Country: United States Released: 2005 More: Arcane Device, Ellen Band, Pogus, Pulsewidth

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy


    Beth Anderson – Peachy Keen-O

    April 13th, 2013

    Beth Anderson - Peachy Keen-O

    Educated at the University of Kentucky, University of California at Davis, Mills College and New York University, Beth Anderson is a composer of neo-romantic music, text sound works and musical theater events. Peachy Keen-O is a 2003 CD collection of her early, non-academic, fence post-John Cage text sound pieces that span from 1973-79. Kicking off the album is “Torero Piece,” in which Beth’s mom delivers a touching essay about her troubled yet loving relationship with her daughter while Beth spits out a string of vowel and consonant sounds over the top. This track is simultaneously sentimental and strange. “Tower of Power” features a bunch of nice, dissonant organ blasts that result from the players’ arms smashing down all of the keys. As if that weren’t enough, it was recorded four times, then played back with a live performer doing the same thing over a bed of electronics, to very dense effect.

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    Tom Hamilton + Mike Silverton + Al Margolis – Analogue Smoque

    April 12th, 2013

    Tom Hamilton + Mike Silverton + Al Margolis - Analogue Smoque

    Analogue Smoque is an extended work for solo narrator and electronics spread out over two CDs, 15 tracks and 100 minutes. Brandishing a robust radio voice, author and vocalist Mike Silverton smugly spews forth his wry, humorous, dada-inspired, stream-of-consciousness text. His speech is supported, on and off, by experimental musicans Al Margolis’ and Tom Hamilton’s subtle electronic sounds flitting and droning away, forming a strange, static sonic backdrop. Your enjoyment of it all will depend on how big a fan you are of spoken poetry and a kinder, gentler kind of noise.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21029-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: Disc 1: 8, Disc 2: 7 Total Time: Disc 1: 49:17, Disc 2: 52:18 Country: United States Released: 2003 More: Mike Silverton, Tom Hamilton, Al Margolis, Pogus

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy


    Warren Burt – Harmonic Color Fields

    April 11th, 2013

    Warren Burt - Harmonic Color Fields

    Warren Burt (born 1949) is a composer, performer, video artist, sound poet, writer, and instrument maker (hardware and software, electronic and acoustic). Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he’s lived in Melbourne and Wollongong, Australia since 1975. Warren earned a BA at the State University of New York, Albany in 1971; an MA at the University of California, San Diego in 1975; and a PhD at the University of Wollongong in 2007. Influenced by early minimalism–including the music of La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine and Harold Budd, and color field paintings by the likes of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman–Harmonic Color Fields is a “set of five computer pieces which explore static microtonal harmonic fields.” Basically, we’re talking about multiple layers of shrill, melancholy drones courtesy of such instruments as the Roland Sound Canvas synth, kinetic music machine, a PC286 Compatible computer and Russ Kozerski’s Drummer program. This album is perfect listening for any happy camper trapped inside on a rainy day. But, if you’re feeling despondent or suicidal, avoid it like the plague. This music is so gloomy, it may just push you over the edge.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21028-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 5 Total Time: 68:29 Country: United States Released: 2003 More: Australian Music Center, Discogs, Last.FM, Rainer Lenz, Official, Pogus

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy