Archive for June 1, 2009

Collaborating Torture Reviews

Heathen Harvest
Sadly, this is actually the second release from Topheth Prophet to hit my in-tray recently which involves people who are now dead. The first of these was This Time,,, It’s Cancer by Kadaver, which was originally scheduled for release on Slaughter Productions in early 2007, but which appeared on Topheth Prophet following the suicide of Marco Corbelli, founder of Slaughter Productions and Atrax Morgue. In the present case, the deceased party is not the prolific producer, sound engineer and musician Maor Appelbaum, who was Israeli-born but is currently resident in the USA and very much alive, but his collaborator Hollowing, a.k.a. Matt Gibney, who was also a member of SOIHADTOSHOOTHIM and the proprietor of Rectrix distro and label, who died in January 2006. Maybe all this death inescapably goes with the territory, given the morbid and shadowy musical netherworlds that artists like these inhabit, but still, it’s kind of depressing.

Collaborating Torture consists of one long 54-minute track, recorded by Matt Gibney in 2005 and then mixed and augmented by Maor Appelbaum. In this, it resembles Mourning Duet, Maor Appelbaum’s recent collaboration with Clint Listing of As All Die, which is also a single long composition. However, Collaborating Torture is an altogether darker work than Mourning Duet, with a sound situated somewhere between the black ambient of projects like Archon Satani, Shining Vril and Sistrenatus on the one hand, and the ineffably sinister conjurations of the Aural Hypnox stable on the other – a potent combination indeed.

The piece opens with distant, deep echoing tones and thick layers of forbidding drones coiling and tumbling over each other. A simple repeating chime keeps time, providing a rhythmic axis around which the ambient darkness swirls. Around the nine-minute mark, orchestral fanfares briefly evoke a martial atmosphere before being submerged back beneath the surface of the ongoing, restless whirlpool of reverberating beats echoing through the void. There are fragments of melody here and there, but nothing remotely approaching conventional song structure. The atmosphere remains resolutely obscure and baleful. After some jangling, distorted piano at around 18 minutes, Collaborating Torture moves into a more subdued middle phase. The steady chime is still there, but very much pushed into the background, and the noisy, chaotic beats of the piece’s early phase disappear. Long, eerie drones and sinister hisses predominate – whilst this is certainly quieter, it’s far from restful. Orchestral brass reappears at 26 minutes, inviting comparison to the ‘Macht Muzik’ of Polish act Horologium, although Horologium’s work tends to be much more stridently rhythmic than this. At 31 minutes, a sequence of mid-frequency tones cut through the thick layers of low-end bass rumble, shortly followed by stray, isolated guitar notes. Orchestral chords fade in and out of the sludgy, enveloping, almost suffocatingly thick ambience which oozes from the speakers like a fat black flow of bitumen. The piano reappears, tuneless and remote. After some minutes of quieter, more subdued drones, the music becomes more insistent and overwhelming at around 41 minutes. Overlapping waves of noise build in intensity, as the piece moves relentlessly toward its endgame. At 45 minutes, assertive church organ chords appear, and the orchestral brass reappears before the piece fades to silence.

Collaborating Torture is an intensely bleak work, likely to appeal to those who are seeking out the most effectively immersive work the dark ambient genre has to offer. But be warned, this is a trip that only fearless and experienced psychic voyagers will want to take. If you’re not ready to dive in at the deep end and cosy up to the dwellers of the abyss, then give this one a miss.

Judas Kiss

“Collaborating Torture” was created through the collaboration of two artists who shared a dark ambient vision; the increasingly prolific Israeli Maor Appelbaum (Grave In The Sky, Poochlatz and many others) and Rectrix Records founder Matt Gibney’s solo project Hollowing. Gibney, who also recorded with SOIHADTOSHOOTHIM, sadly passed away shortly after the pair completed the album and before they could meet up in person. After two years, Topheth Prophet and Heart & Crossbone Records jointly release the album that the two of them created from their shared vision.

Consisting of a single 54 minute track full of heavy, dark drones, “Collaborating Torture” is a haunting, shifting mass of sound that evolves, expands and contracts as it progresses. Layered drones intersect as chimes gently ring out and voices from another dimension call out from deep within the rumbling depths of sound. Although less bassy than most drone based recordings, “Collaborating Torture” focuses more on a sweeping, swirling maelstrom of encircling sound that encapsulates and cocoons. Adding to the more atmospheric and ethereal aspects are creaking, chinking, chiming little sounds that resemble movement and activity in the shadows while dominant layered drones and obscured ritualistic chants sweep all around in dark swathes. After building and building the layers of sound, they are stripped away and, while the earthquake-like drones rumble beneath the feet, the sound opens up, the chants and delicate chimes become clearer as if observing some ancient ritual deep in an underground cavern with painted symbols and burning torches. As sounds build and fall again, the addition of short passages of acoustic guitar and rattling percussion can be made out amongst the murky layers.

Although “Collaborating Torture” is heavy, dark and oppressive, the feeling it creates is more atmospheric than disturbing. The ever-present layers of droning sound rumble constantly accompanied by monk-like chants deep within. The addition of small slithers of sound bring light and a glimmer of hope to a grim landscape that flits between lengthy segments of relative calm and short phases of disquiet and unrest.

Vital Weekly
To be honest: I never heard of Matt Gibney, musician and labelowner of
Rectrix, and so his passing away in January 2006 went unnoticed by me. Not by Maor Appelbaum from Israel, with whom he shared ideas and worked together. Appelbaum before worked with Maurizio Bianchi but in Gibney he found another lover of anything dark. In the fifty-four minutes that span this disc the two walk the darkest paths available in music. From the rattling of bells at the beginning to the more spacious paths in the middle end, things remain grim and dark. Industrial music for sure, but the industries are longer at work here. It’s a bleak, empty, barely lit landscape that once had activity, but it’s no longer there. Everything is gone and the nuclear fall out is heavily amplified by these two men. Rain drops become small but effective bombs, falling on rusty metal sheets that are on the floor of an empty warehouse. This is not pleasant music, but then that was never the idea, I assume. It’s highly effective music at work here. Deep bass rumbling, mean high end sounds and other means are put to work here. Quite an achievement, I’d say, and surely not of the weak minded. If depression isn’t there, it may such things after hearing this. Nice, I’d say, although I wouldn’t want to hear this every day, but this hard to swallow pill needs to be taken, at least every now and then. (FdW)

Blood ties

Here is a collaboration between Maor Appelbaum, an artist I am unfamiliar with and the late Matt Gibney’s project The Hollowing. For those of you who do not remember the contributions that Matt made to the noise scene, he ran the excellent dark noise (when such a term had relevance) label The Rectrix who released debut albums from such artists as Chaos As Shelter and Wilt. I did have a chance to witness The Hollowing live many years ago but this collaboration leans in a much different direction then the insanity I witnessed that night.

Collaborating Torture is probably first and foremost a drone album, although many of the elements here seem a bit dated, harkening back to the late 90’s dark noise sound. Echoing drum beats, creepy synth melodies, noisy bell sounds and tons and tons of reverb are some of what you will find here. As so much of that music did, this carries on many of these ideas a bit longer then they warrant interest which is a little disappointing. Consisting of one, long, 54 minute track, Collaborating Torture certainly would be a stronger piece of it had been condensed down into about 30 minutes.

There are moments here where I am drawn in, the first 10 minutes are dynamic, shifting synth sounds, more organic and concrete elements that work nicely. The noisier melodies are somewhat repetitive and so forgettable that being forced to hear them over and over again just magnifies the redundancy to a place where it definitely should not be. On top of that the drums that don’t really sound like anything more then echoing standard drum kit sounds just add to the monotony.

Around 18 minutes in things finally die down a bit and are able to breath to provide a thankful respite. The ambient elements here are a little more airy and undulate in a character that is quite pleasing. There is definitely a lot of thought put into these tracks, even in the quieter parts there are detailed layers strategically placed to form a carefully composed ambience which works for multiple listens. Eventually the track works up into more abstract and atonal melodies, drifting and creepy.

The production here is one thing that I have a problem with. Since a similar effect is used throughout the disc the frequency range is in the same place and it seems that the ultra high and low frequencies are softened so, that their barely audible. Everything is forced into the mid range by the noisy reverb which is applied, and which also adds that riding-in-an-airplane aspect to the track which makes it quite difficult to endure. I feel that if some different types of reverb were used, maybe some delay instead, or just a focus on dry mixing some of the elements the disc would have been much more effective.

It makes sense that this disc really sounds like it should have been released 10 years ago, and it probably would have made much more of an impact back then. But at this point it seems like most of the methods used here are “old tricks” that have come and gone and now are used much more tastefully by current artists. Not to say this is a bad track it just sounds quite dated. I’d recommend this to people interested in old-school dark noise like Gruntsplatter, Wilt, Murderous Vision, etc.

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Trieb Reviews

Vital Weekly
Next album from the Tropheth Prohpet label presents the Italian collaborative project, consisting of Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga, that both originates from the hardcore punk-scene. In the UR-project, the two composers move into more introvert sound spheres of claustrophobic ambient noise. Containing four lengthy pieces of dark compositions, the expression is first of all built on thick drones that emerge from a combination of subdued noises, distant sounds of voices and industrial sounds. The atmosphere is apocalyptic and dark, with a psychedelic touch that sometimes reminds of earliest Pink Floyd thanks to the frequent use of distorted guitars and acid-like electronic soundscapes, especially on the final track “Happy hour (abattoir lounge)”. Where the first reviewed split-album was extremely upfront in style, this album demands for more deeply listening

Musique Machine
Trieb is very satisfyingly grim, suffocating & dank excise in murky old school industrial, damed electro-acoustic, barren ambience and noise matter. As the album progresses you are pushed deeper and deeper into a subterranean, decaying and clanking hell hole.

The project was set up in 2003 by two Italians Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga who Surprisingly are from a hardcore-punk background and have been in the following bands: Heartside, Never Was, Downright, Kafka & Stalker. There were joined in 2005 by Andrea Ferraris who has worked in many Italian hardcore, indie and post rock bands. Trieb is the projects third releases and the first wider available release after two ltd CDR releases. To create their sound the trio use a mix of; multiple electric bass’s, Theremin, violin, various pedals, cymbal and percussive matter, electronics and field recordings. Through out they managed to conjure up a very tangible nasty and brooding atmosphere that’s often dense airless and hopeless- full with clunking percussion, doomed black bass lines and general black/oppressive sonic matter. I can really see people who enjoy the likes of Wolf Eyes and The Skull Defekts at there more dense and suffocating really diging this.

Unforgiving in it’s grim, dank and nasty atmosphere yet hypnotic and bleakly compelling, Thrieb is a highly accomplished and rewarding ride- check out Ur myspace for a taster of Thrieb grim sonic fruits.

Judas Kiss
Ur is an Italian trio hailing from Genoa, and consisting of Federico Esposito, Mauro Sciaccaluga and Andrea Ferraris, who between them have musical backgrounds ranging from hardcore punk to experimental post-rock. Their fourth full-length Trieb, which is released on the Israeli experimental label Topheth Prophet, contains four lengthy tracks (lengths ranging from ten to 17 minutes) of improvisational drone-based ambient, with the instrumentation used including contact mics, violin, two bass guitars, pedals and effects, percussion, samples and field recordings, resulting in a nice balance between acoustic and electronic sounds, something like the Polish project Hati or the Swedish trio Keplers Odd (both reviewed elsewhere in Judas Kiss).

‘The Belly Of The Earth Is Open Wide’ opens with a steady siren-like oscillating tone underpinning deep shifting drones, the siren cutting through the bass and lending an air of tension and anxiety. Various metal percussion is heard, with a steady build in volume towards the middle of the track. Ur’s percussive approach is similar to that of Tomasz Krakowiak. Past the midpoint, the sound thins out into bleak mid-frequency drones punctuated by loose percussion, a bit like some Moljebka Pvlse or Beyond Sensory Experience. The mood of the track is uncomfortable, but not excessively dark. ‘Recurring Dream’ initially maintains a similar feel, with steady background drones overlaid with busy squalls of electronic pulses and shrill whistles, though the later half of the track is noisier and harsher, with drones flaring up into waves of muffled roaring and some heavily distorted vocals (I think) and chuckling discernible at points. ‘The Room Of Wounds’, the album’s longest track, is much calmer than its predecessors, opening with a steady low circuit hum and disconnected, reverberating bass guitar notes -this track especially reminded me of the guitar-based ambient drone of Keplers Odd. After a few minutes of this low-key approach, the sound thickens slightly with the addition of some background drone, but the desultory plucked bass continues, interspersed with metallic scrapings and rumbles. There are indiscernible processed vocals and mysterious rattling sounds. The track has an exhausted, desolate feel to it. The closing track ‘Happy Hour (Abattoir Lounge)’ has fewer incidental noises, being more concerned with Nordvargr-style smoothly overlapping layers of drones and thin, attenuated shards of feedback.

Ur’s blend of avant-garde experimental rock jams with drone-based black ambient appeals on a number of different fronts, though I like the tracks with percussion more than the ones without. Trieb is a limited-edition CD release of 300 copies, and it comes in an oversize black and white card sleeve, which opens right to left, Hebrew-style.

Heathen Harvest

Ur is a fairly new industrial music project having been formed in early 2005 by Italian musicians Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga. Since the inception of the project Andrea Ferraris has joined the ranks of Ur flushing out the all Italian crew. Drawing upon the experience of these three accomplished musicians Ur transcends musical boundaries allowing each musician to draw upon their previous experience in the multifaceted Italian hardcore, industrial and power electronics scene.

Ur’s musical identity can be traced back to the origins of industrial music as it emerged in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s through the visions of such bands as Throbbing Gristle, SPK and Non. Like these early industrial music pioneers Ur also emphasizes musical improvisations and has likewise utilized live music events to further develop and explore the projects sound and identity. Like many of their old school industrial peers Ur also seeks to pair the musical side of their project with the feral and unpredictable aspects of improvisational exploration. Trieb is the fourth commercial release by Ur following previous albums released on the emerging Romanian label Mask Of Slave and the ever prolific Italian label Afe Records. Trieb sees Ur partnering with Israeli allies Topeth Prophet records who have become established as one of Israel’s premier industrial labels. This cross cultural global partnership is testimony to the diversity and friendship that pervades the international industrial scene.

The music on Trieb is heavily influenced by improvisation and lends itself to rather long songs the shortest being just over ten minutes and the longest track running well over seventeen minutes. The improvisational nature of some elements of the music make good use of the generous song length and the song length also adds to the feeling of listening to a more organic live performance rather than a studio recording. The four songs that comprise the album are built around elements of dark ambient, industrial, drone, and power electronics with no one element becoming too dominate. Instrumentation and sound sources range wildly from such traditional acoustic elements as bass guitar and violin to more abstract media such as field recordings, samples, mic techniques and the ever present array of effects and modifications. The resulting sound is quite holographic and three dimensional in stereo though I found the same quality lacking when I listened on moderate priced headphones. The mixture of electronics and acoustic generated sounds makes for an interesting mix of contrasting elements at play.

Trieb begins with the opening song “The Belly Of The Earth Is Open Wide” which begins with a oscillating sound wave that creates an unsettling atmosphere of cold tension. Slow waves of crescendoing dark ambience emerge from the background and traces of the bass strings can be heard amidst the swelling waves giving the sound an acoustic signature and a bit of warmth. This union of electric and acoustic sound continues to evolve while high pitch tones erupt and fade and distorted voices struggle to break free from the dominance of the background ambience before being consumed whole by the rumbling jumbled waves of bass. Random sounds are mixed in throughout the length of the song as the emphasis remains on atmosphere and the creation of a subterranean mood. The music contorts and evolves unsettled and frenetic sounding like the creaking haul of an abandoned freight ship and some half dead mechanical animal in death throes all at once. There is an authentic sense of psychic darkness as if the authors of the music are intentionally delving into less explored aspects of both music and psyche. I found that on my home stereo at medium volume the music was completely engulfing and I found myself fully immersed for the entire thirteen plus minutes of this lengthy song.

“Recurring Dream” follows the nocturnal visions of its predecessor with muted industrial sounds and disjointed sounds that slowly build in volume as the song takes shape. The song structure begins rather loose and improvisational compared to the more predictable nature of the previous track. Immediately noticeable is the random nature of the sounds and the inconsistency in the pairing of sounds. The previous emphasis on flow has been abandoned for a far more complex attempt at pairing diverse and much more angular sounds into a common soundscape. Sounds are roughly layered upon one another only occasionally finding cadence. There is also a more aggressive tone to the music that is more akin to the power electronics scene than its dark ambient or industrial cousins. The music excellerates into a powerful improvisational journey that at times is fluid and engaging and at others challenging and dominating. The use of some old school oscillating effects and the shear force of some of the sounds will give some familiarity to industrial and power electronics listeners but the over all mixing of the cocktail is rather signature to Trieb albeit not totally original.

“The Room Of Wounds ” opens with a very improvisational beginning that grabbed my interest immediately. Here we hear something distinctly not industrial, dark ambient or power electronics in nature. drawing upon a more electro-acoustic approach Trieb deliver a sonic adventure filled with layers of carefully placed sounds that create a jagged musical narrative that feels at once delicate and imaginative. The heavy handed approach of earlier songs is abandoned as sounds are placed far apart on the sound stage with plenty of room between. Instruments and samples have clear distinction allowing for a truly three dimensional sound stage in which the listener feels as if they are in the studio with the artists. The music takes on an almost ritual tone in its careful construction with random sounds giving way to one another with some twisting and howling while others mumble and rumble. The the sound of bass strings and scraping metal are expertly paired alongside random mic feeds and industrial static. While one musical element drones on meditatively another contorts through spasms of distortion. The resulting tapestry is primal and immersive. Half way through the song you barely notice almost ten minutes have passed. Ur takes the listener out of the delicate bliss of the first half of the song and administers a bit of pain the second half by migrating the song into a denser stew of sound driven by industrial drones and darker musical elements that abandon the airy expanses of the first half and take the listener into more murky musical waters for a dark ending.

The last rack of four titled “Happy Hour (Abattoir Lounge)” begins with a rumbling background of industrial unrest and various high pitch drones cresting over the surface of the industrial rumblings. The mood is once again cold and a bit technical like the moments at an industrial show when the musician heads into self indulgent playing leaving the audience behind. The sound here is challenging and will be easier to digest for noise and power electronics fans. I found my tolerance wavering as the song progressed as musical punishment isn’t quite my thing. There is a true sense of distress and discomfort communicated through the music with the high pitched layers continuing to build into an almost unbearable wall of squealing sound. The only redeeming element the listener has to hold onto is the fluctuating rumblings of the obscure bass in the background of the song. Near the end of this epic track voices get thrown into the blender with the rest of the sounds but they don’t add much to the song in terms of substance as the lyrics are completely indistinguishable. “Happy Hour (Abattoir Lounge)” brings the album to a close with a very noisy finale.

Trieb is definitely recommended for those looking to explore the hybridization that is currently occurring in the industrial music scene. Its refreshing to see musicians breaking down genre boundaries and exploring music for the sake of music instead of making music for a specific music scene or genre. This emphasis on musical hybridization and improvisation may be challenging for some listeners but for those of us who have neared exhausting many of the familiar genres Trieb will be welcomed as innovators who are striving to define the new direction of industrial music bringing it back home to its roots while freeing it from the confines of genre restriction at the same time.

Gothtronic

The Topheth Prophet label is relatively new (started around 2002) and, most special, hails from Israel! This label promotes the local noise scene to be heard in to the rest of the world. Didn’t know they had a noise community there. The focus of this label is in the noise, power electronics and dark-ambient field.

Ur is actually an Italian project from Federico Esposito, Mauro Sciaccaluga and Andrea Ferraris (who came in later), with their first release in 2005.
The music and aesthetic of Ur is very much grounded in the industrial origins of the 70’s and relies a lot on improvisation. Though it’s nice to know were they are coming from with their music, it does from time to time drags along. The album consists of four songs, with each around 15 minutes in length, and for some of the tracks, that’s pretty long. It’s all nicely done but I miss some tension those bands in the 70’s did have. I think it’s more interesting to see them perform live. Not that this is a bad album in any way, but I miss some real inventive touches. The album just goes and then stops, and doesn’t have a real standout moment. It’s a nice release, but nothing too special. But time will tell with their next output.


Ravha\Electricity Gardens Reviews

Bagatellen
A split disc, with one long track by the Swedish trio Moljebka Pvlse, five by the Israeli duo, Seventeen Migs of Spring and one shared.

Moljebka Pvlse is Karin Jacobsen (bells, thunder tubes, walking on leaves, Styrofoam), Mathias Josefson (field recordings, electronics, mix) and Martin Nordin (violin) and their pieces here are fascinating. This whole general area of processed field recordings has become fairly crowded in the last couple of years and even solid works can get lost in the shuffle so hearing something like the opening 27-minute piece, “Ravha”, is a real joy. The “walking on leaves” accreditation above might seem a tad precious but those sounds are major ingredients here, along with transportation hub hubbub (including the recordist explaining himself to a passerby), abstract industrialiana and a huge sense of space. The violin comes lurching, sawing into the scene, eventually carving out a plaintive line amidst the bang of metallic sheets, soft bells and a distant argument. It ends with some whistles and quietly clattered metal; wonderful piece. The collaborative track is a fine, understated rumble, well-molded.

The four participants in Seventeen Migs of Spring gather under the noms K-76, Gurfa, B-74 and Discord, wielding, one presumes, an array of electronics. It sounds as though field recordings are also present, though they’re worked into drones and kneaded into the largely dark, brooding ambience on the first cut featuring only this quartet. Others, like “Alternative Current”, evoke mid 60s tape pioneers like Raaijmakers and Koenig (I’ve encountered a good deal of this sort of sound lately, a reinvestigation of that decade’s electronic avant-garde), complete with blooping swirls, low burbling growls and quasi-metallic clangs, though rather more aggressively than their forebears and lacking much poetry of those earlier works. The pieces are effective enough at what they shoot for, it’s just that I find their somewhat claustrophobic character of less intrinsic interest than the spaciousness created by Moljebka Pvlse. Mileage may vary for different listeners, though; the Migs do what they do well.

Well worth hearing, especially for that fine, fine “Ravha”.

Heathen Harvest
It’s amazing how much we as humans take for granted the full spectrum of our sensory cues (especially sight followed by hearing) in order to enable us to navigate and make sense of the world around us– so imagine the sense of displacement and separation should any of us lose the use of our eyes, the prime sensory organ. While we can do without touch, smell and taste (and hearing to a degree) and not suffer too much, it’s that convergence between sight and sound especially that helps us to locate ourselves within a spacial framework. Take away the visual cues and suddenly the world becomes a strange place; it may as well be another planet entirely.

The preceding long-winded preamble does have a point; Moljebka Pvlse’s drone and field recording pieces are a good illustration of how the world becomes that strange place without the benefit of sight. ‘Rahva’, the twenty-six minute opening track, is indeed another planet, where even the sound of a lone mournful trumpet takes on a disturbingly unfamiliar colour and shade. The same goes for the dog barking in ‘Calm Gardens (at night)’, the track created by MP along with K-76, Gurfa and B-74 of SMoS; the apparently dichotomous simultaneity of the familiar and yet unfamiliar. By isolating commonplace sounds like voices and everyday life and weaving them around subtle drones and tones the pieces detach themselves from what we take for granted and are removed from their proper places. We are encouraged to reassess our relationship with both the mundane sounds and noises that are a part of our everyday experience. This seems to be MP’s particular forte, the ability to shift sound sideways and make it seem as if we are experiencing them for the first time.

The five pieces that comprise Seventeen Migs of Spring’s evocatively titled suite ‘Electricity Gardens’ are aptly named; serried ranks of pylons marching across miles and miles of fields or the buzzing flowers of conductors and transformers in the walled beds of the ubiquitous substations. Metallic boings, clangs, buzzes and hums crackle with a barely contained energy that just wants to break out; despite the uninspiring and unpromising track titles the pieces surprise with an animation and power entirely in keeping with the subject matter.

Again, we can hark back to the point I made about Moljebka Pvlse’s pieces: the point about taking things for granted. Electricity is such a major part of our everyday lives that we almost cease to function as a civilisation when it suddenly stops flowing. In the same way that we take our eyes for granted we also do the same with that light-switch, never once stopping to think how we would cope without either of these essential elements. I may be miles off in my interpretation; however given the current concerns with energy generation and its future then I think it’s entirely natural to entertain this train of thought.

A quietly thought-provoking CD, created by very different sound-artists who nevertheless know how to shepherd their materials to conjure up the right atmosphere and images in order to set off thought-patterns that help instigate re-evaluation and reassessment. This one’s definitely a keeper…

Musique Machine
This split release between Sweden’s Moljebka Pvlse and Israel’s Seventeen Migs of spring seems to revolve around the concept that electricity is an enveloping part of our environment, in all but the most remote regions of our planet. The artists choose one unifying factor to make their point, which is field recordings, but overall the two use divergent means of expression.

Moljebka Pvlse, in this case are represented by a three piece band. Apart from mainstay Mathias Jacobson, Maria Nordin appears on violin. Karin Jacobson is credited with bells, thunder tube and walking in leaves on styrofoam. Their album-side length opener, Ravha, is without question the standout track here. Everything which follows appears relatively insignificant in comparison, not that the rest of the album is at all bad. The track at its inception is made up of all found sounds, collaged in such a way to make music of everyday sounds, whether it be public address systems or abstract electrical current hum.

What is especially intriguing is the fact that, though they are assembled for forward motion, the sounds don’t sound fussed with or overly modified in the studio. The act of using environmental sounds in the Cage-ian spirit that music is natural and needn’t be created by traditional instruments is certainly nothing new. But Moljebka Pvlse appoint these sounds with a refreshing lack of adornment, and a willingness to let the elements speak for themselves. They don’t make an attempt to shape them for their own means. And that’s just the first half of the piece. One would think that the addition of musical elements would be at odds with the tone of Ravha, but it works surprisingly well. The violin, in particular, melds nicely with the background sounds.

So, yes, the rest of the album pales in comparison to this towering achievement. Seventeen Migs of Spring offer five tracks here, and they seem more interested in the bluster of electricity. They attack these pieces, credited as Electricity Gardens, with fuzzy noise, and a more abstract focus. Their music is bold and arresting in the beginning, but after a few minutes, becomes a bit tiresome. This album is worth owning in the very least for its exceptional first half. Any joy that can be gleaned from the second half is merely a bonus.