Efrim is one of the fellow travelers in the bands Godspeed You Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion.
He released his first album, “Plays ‘High Gospel’”, under his own name in 2011, and it was one of my favorite albums of that year. This is his second release under his own name and, so far, it is one of my favorite albums of this blighted year.
Menuck’s solo albums tend to be a bit more sonically adventurous than those of Godspeed or Thee Silver. Moving from moments of abrasive noise to choruses of pure beautiful harmonic chords.
The inspiration for this album came from the, “brief romance between American television presenter Mary Hart and Mohammed Khashoggi, the son of a Saudi arms dealer.” He says, “this strange intersection – the televisual blonde and the rich saudi kid with the murderous father; it got stuck in me like a mystery, like an illumination – this vulgar pairing that was also love. these privileged scions of death and self-alienation, but also love.” Though, ostensibly, the theme is more like this quote found in the liner notes, “In this troubled world there’s just two things that are sure: The beauty of children and the war against the poor”
Whether that is a sentiment which rings true to you or not, this is a ugly beautiful album. Or maybe a beautiful ugly album. Your choice. Your world.
Mika Vainio was in an electronic group called Pan Sonic (originally Panasonic). Unfortunately, he died a couple years ago, relatively young.
When I was reading about Venexia, seeing his name reminded me I had never checked out his music.
Some of the articles about Venexia compared Drumm and Vainio’s music. Drumm and Vainio do sometimes use a similar sonic palate of grinding non-musical sounds. However, going from Kilo, an album which was described as “punishing” in one article, Vainio hews much closer to traditional Western ideas of rhythmic and harmonic organization. Heck, the first track, Cargo, might even, almost, be considered a club track.
Though, it is pretty apparent, judging from Kilo’s car rattling subsonics, that Vainio was the one bringing those elements to the Venexia party. Which does endear him to me slightly. Further investigation is in order.
‘Venexia’ by Mika Vainio / Kevin Drumm / Axel Dörner / Lucio Capece.
Oft times in Kevin Drumm’s solo work he limits his sound sources to a single family of sounds. Band saws, radio static, whatever.
On this collaborative release from 2012 with Mika Vainio, Axel Dörner, and Lucio Capece, Drumm displays a wider variety of his sound palette than on his solo releases. Well, at least what I can recognize as his. I am not as familiar with the other artists on this, but can recognize some of Drumm’s signature sounds.
Described as a set of continuous duos, this is a pretty cool album of non-rhythmic sound environments. Very drone-ey and somewhat SciFi, yet not spacey. No, whomever is deploying the subsonic feedback rumble makes sure that it steers very clear of the “spacey” label.
Nice that 4 collaborators from pretty different backgrounds can make something that sounds so organic.
Front and Above by John Chantler, Steve Noble, and Seymour Wright.
Synthesizer, Drums, and Saxophone, respectively, and none of them doing much linear playing.
I do really enjoy Mr Noble’s drumming, a modern master of non-linear improvised percussion and extended percussion technique.
The Synthesizer work from Mr Chatler is of the bleep-ey, bloopy, SciFi Soundtrack, non-melodic sort. Very appropriate for the playing of the other two.
Finally, Mr Wright seem intent on coaxing every non-normal sound it is possible to make with a Saxophone, whether it is flutter tonguing, slap tonguing, splitting pitches, playing just the mouthpiece,…etc. etc…the list goes on… Anyway, I missed a turn on the way to work, I was so intent on attempting to mentally catalog what he is doing on Sax. Fascinating!
Phew is a Japanese artist, primarily vocalist, who made a an album in the late 1980s with some of the guys, (Czukay, Liebzeit, and Plank,) from the German band Can, and then a few more well thought of albums in the early 90s. She didn’t release any albums from 1998 to 2009, but has recently been quite active.
On Voice Hardcore her only sound source is her voice. A bit like either a less tune-ey Petra Haden’s “Petra Goes to the Movies”, or, perhaps, more accurately, if Kevin Drumm used voice instead of Guitar and Radio as his sound source.
There is a fair bit of spoken Japanese on this, but my comprehension is pretty much limited to the song whose text is pretty much solely, “domo arigatou gozaimasu”, so I have no idea what any of the lyrics are about.
In any case, it’s great to have Phew actively making music again, and this is a very creative and interesting release.
I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune-Yards.
There is an interesting tension here between the lyrics and the music.
From a superficial listen, a lot of this album from Merrill Garbus’ band Tune-Yards sounds like “club music”, in terms of the beats and the musical strategies.
On the other hand, a lot of the lyrical content is about anxiety, fear, and self-deprecation.
It’s sort of like having a pom-pom squad leading a cheer based on opinion pieces from the Huffington Post or New Yorker.
My favorite songs are those where a bit more of what seems to be personal narrative creeps in, like “Now as Then” and “Hammer”. Also, the live version of the Tune-Yards band includes Bay Area superstar drummer Hamir Atwal, giving the tunes a bit more edge than the primarily programming and loop based rhythms of the album. So go see them live and decide for yourself!
A Musical Improvisation Company by Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Christine Jeffrey, Jamie Muir, and Evan Parker.
Recently, the ECM label made much of its catalog of recordings available to stream from most of the major streaming services. ECM has a ridiculously diverse and rich catalog of music from Mal Waldron’s “Free At Last”, released in 1969, onwards, with everything from folk to jazz to new composed music represented.
One of the earliest artifacts of the UK “Free Improvisation” scene, “A Musical Improvisation Company”, was released on ECM in 1970.
As you can perhaps tell, I am interested in the intersections of Composition and Coincidence. Music and Noise. Nature and Art. Silence and Sound.
While the New York Free Music scene worked out its transcendental Fire Music, the English improvised music scenes, along with groups related to the AACM in the US, developed something more like instantly composed modern classical music. That is, they incorporated more textural and non-tonal elements in their playing, instead of just energy.
This record is a great exploration of those ideas, and, some 47 years later, still thought provoking.