Sunday, 29 July 2018

Delia Derbyshire / Barry Bermange ‎– Inventions For Radio: The Dreams (2014)

Style: Experimental
Format: Vinyl
Label: Psychic Sounds

A1.   Running
A2.   Land
A3.   Falling
B4.   Sea
B5.   Colour

"Dreams" was made in collaboration with Barry Bermange (who originally recorded the narrations). Bermange put together The Dreams (1964), a collage of people describing their dreams, set to a background of electronic sound. Dreams is a collection of spliced/reassembled interviews with people describing their dreams, particularly recurring elements. The program of sounds and voices attempts to represent, in five movements, some sensations of dreaming: running away, falling, landscape, underwater, and colour.

A real treat for Delia's legion of fans here. "Dreams" was originally made in collaboration with Barry Bermange and broadcast on BBC Radio's "Third Programme" on 05-01-1964. Quite what the listening public made of it, I can't imagine, as even today it's a strangely beautiful, but nightmarish proposition, with a slow, spooky atmosphere that immediately made me think of "Carnival of Souls". 
Bermange recorded a selection of typically well-spoken, upper crust sounding members of the English public describing their uncomfortable, claustrophobic dreams, in a calm monotone which hints at the coiled mania beneath. David Lynch would love both the delivery, and the surreal depth of detail here. 
These recordings were then spliced and reassembled, with excellent use of repetition to build tension, with Derbyshire providing suitably nightmarish electronic soundscapes that accentuate the feeling of mounting terror. Those who are fans of her eerie Doctor Who work will feel right at home here, although this is creepier than anything the Beeb would have allowed on their flagship kid's sci-fi show. 
It's riveting stuff, presented in five themed movements. "Falling" is a particular revelation, full of edge of the seat moments, with a deliberately slow pace that racks up the tension to unbearable levels.
Word is unfortunately, that this vinyl release is a bootleg, and that it's sourced from 256k mp3s. It sounds like it may well be, unfortunately; it's certainly not an ideal situation, but given its relatively lo-fi origins, it doesn't suffer too much from this treatment. While I'm loathe to support this sort of venture, it's historical importance, coupled with the unlikeliness of an official release anytime soon (or indeed, ever) make this a no-regrets purchase for me, and should an official release eventuate, a re-buy is a certainty. 
An essential addition to your Radiophonic collection.
Nathan Ford  / The Active Listener 

Coil ‎– Love's Secret Domain (1991)

Style: Techno, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label:  Wax Trax! Records

01.   Disco Hospital
02.   Teenage Lightning 1
03.   Things Happen
04.   The Snow
05.   Dark River
06.   Where even The Darkness Is Something To See
07.   Teenage Lightning 2
08.   Windowpane
09.   Further Back And Faster
10.   Titan Arch
11.   Chaostrophy
12.   Lorca Not Orca
13.   Love's Secret Domain

Didgeridoo – Cyrung (tracks: 5, 6, 9)
Guitar [Spanish] – Juan Ramirez (tracks: 5, 7, 12)
Producer – Coil, Danny Hyde
Programmed By [Additional], Engineer – Danny Hyde

Coil is possibly the most overlooked electronic act in recent memory. Throughout their whole career they’ve pushed boundaries in so many strange ways, and while not all results were positive they allowed the room to re-distinguish what music could become. In turn, Love’s Secret Domain’s appeal has nothing to do with its dynamic instrumentation or its eclectic styles throughout the songs. The fact that makes this such an interesting album is merely detail. Naturally since this came out during the great electronic revolution they pertained to certain relevant aspects such as rhythmic foundations, but also include an almost scary amount of other influences, such as jazz-fusion, post-gothic, and even some literary citations. The record is meant to be taken almost ironically just by the title Love’s Secret Domain (LSD), but there’s so many other levels of philosophy and ambience that you literally have no idea where the record is going. Now, is this a bad thing, or merely a musical experiment of social/unspoken dialect" 
Just like with any experiment it works both ways. Disco Hospital opens the record with nothing more than a collection of noises on a mixing board, but flows right into Teenage Lightning, Pt. 1, a very…very strange composition of buzzes, bangs, and twangs randomly landing over a consistent rhythm melody. If you weren’t confused enough, Things Happen introduces Annie Anxiety, a stage actor from New York, in a completely dazed yet nonchalant spoken-word performance over a mid-tempo, nightmarish theme that completely alters the tone from the first two tracks. The album loves to take sudden turns like this in order to cover a vast amount of ground in terms of emotions and topics and ideas, which is immediately obvious if you were to compare The Snow, essentially a frigid dance track consisting of what you would expect, as well as a consistency of ever-evolving layers and samples, to Dark River, a very hollow ambient piece, or to Windowpane, a vocal-driven modulation of world music influence.  
From the reference to The Divine Comedy in Titan Arch to the pseudo-philosophy rant about a demented view of love from the title track to the complete circle back to the lightness of Teenage Lighting, Pt. 2, it’s not necessarily apparent whether or not the album is meant to be taken in a linear way. Does the song order deal with a stream-of-consciousness concept of what goes through one’s head when evolving into one who loves or becomes loveless, or even a path where cohesiveness is just too weird to make the concept fit" This isn’t meant for a few listens before you move on to something else, you really have to delve into this record to make your own story of what the purpose is to you because frankly that’s probably why the band made it so vague and out of balance. It wasn’t meant to make sense because the concept they’re tackling doesn’t make sense. Obviously, like previously mentioned, some parts just don’t work in their method, such as Further Back And Faster’s 8-minute trek of percussion tracks or Chaostrophy’s lack of identity, however the soul of the record never cracks into useless convolution of other principles. If you want a record that needs to grow into you, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something anything else as strangely, neurotically, or overwhelmingly ensnaring.
fireaboveicebelow / sputnik music 

Tangents ‎– New Bodies (2018)

Style: Post Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Temporary Residence Limited

1.   Lake George
2.   Terracotta
3.   Arteries
4.   Immersion
5.   Gone To Ground
6.   Swells Under Tito
7.   Oort Cloud

Peter Hollo - Cello, Effects
Ollie Bown - Arranger, Computers, Producer, Sampling, Synthesizer
Evan Dorrian - Drum Set, Keyboards, Percussion, Voices
Adrian Klumpes - Arranger, Fender Rhodes, Piano, Prepared Piano, Vibraphone
Shoeb Ahmad - Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric), Sleigh Bells
Casey Rice - Mastering
Richard Belkner - Engineer, Mixing

At some point during the first three albums by Australian instrumental quintet Tangents, you’re bound to get a bit breathless. Tangents don’t write songs so much as they create little worlds, each one a microcosm teeming with separate but symbiotic ideas, like samples of fertile soil viewed under a microscope. An unorthodox ensemble of keyboards, drums, bells, cello, effects, and electronics, they front-load their pieces with varied sounds: bits of warm folk melody and cold string drone, buoyant trip-hop rhythm and tessellated gamelan percussion. It’s easy to feel buried beneath all these elements or swept away in their inevitable landslide. 
On Tangents’ 2013 debut, I, my breathless moment came early, when drummer Evan Dorrian climbed atop a cello-and-circuits din to dance with his kit; on 2016’s Stateless, it was the rising action of “N-Mission,” when drums and electronics coiled repeatedly around a loping pizzicato cello line, teasing a deliverance that never came. Their fourth and best album, New Bodies, overflows with these sensations—of being overpowered and delighted, of being buoyed up and washed away by Tangents’ seemingly endless ideas. 
Tangents began as a strictly improvisational ensemble, recording their first two records in single sittings. I documents the first time they ever played together. But for Stateless, they elected to edit that spontaneous energy, clipping and rearranging their improvisations into sophisticated, interconnected pieces. On “Oberon,” they summoned the slow, accretive approach of Australian instrumental elders the Necks, while “N-Mission” recalls the way Four Tet uses florid little themes as the anchors for rising rhythms. But the album sometimes came off as too scripted and fastidious, sucking the early improvisational air from the editing room. 
The band takes a similar compositional approach to the seven pieces on New Bodies, but that lost beginners’ energy has returned and even grown. “Immersion” again evokes the Necks, but this time you feel as if you’re in the room with Tangents, lifted in real time as their controlled commotion rises. Serene closer “Oort Cloud” moves like a daydream, with whispering electronics and persistent piano suggesting a minor breeze that rustles the hair on your arms. It is lovely and carefully constructed music that also feels casual and conversational. If you didn’t know these were edits of improvisations, you might assume they were simply remarkable, complicated compositions. 
This emerging seamlessness seems to have made Tangents less self-conscious, too. They’ve started to shed their preference for compositional austerity or coolness. “Swells Under Tito” is the most outwardly joyous and funky tune in their catalog. Ebullient drums and a cello that flits between rubbery bass and restless smears lift a West African guitar line, which flashes like a roadside sign inviting you to an all-night party. The guileless tune suggests a discarded Akron/Family or Dirty Projectors demo, meticulously sculpted by a third party into its final prismatic form. During the back half of “Terracotta,” a tune that initially invokes Four Tet’s repetitive ecstasy, pianist Adrian Lim-Klumpes dips into a trio vamp with Dorrian and cellist Peter Hollo, whose plucking somehow elicits the robustness of an upright bass. The passage sounds like Keith Jarrett righteously commandeering the keys of Medeski Martin & Wood. Tangents never seemed the sort to make Saturday cookout tunes, but they sound spectacular testing the edges of their accessibility. 
Still, the most significant shift on New Bodies—and the mature move that could push Tangents beyond the realm of instrumental esoterica, like their Temporary Residence labelmates Explosions in the Sky—is a nascent emotional resonance. “Gone to Ground” hinges on the group’s technical excellence. A prepared piano rattles around a bleak landscape of distended drones and disjointed beats, alternating with sections where stately progressions sit inside the rhythms’ rests, finding a bona fide groove. But those threads tangle late in the 11-minute odyssey, forming a knot of rumbling bass, anxious percussion, and aching countermelodies. With its push and pull between rest and restlessness, “Gone to Ground” is a sophisticated musical map of ordinary frustration, complete with a requisite this-too-shall-pass comedown. 
Absorbing opener “Lake George” captures the exhaustion that follows a long-cohesive group’s split, without warning, into distinct factions. For the song’s first half, Tangents seem to drift through a reverie, with echoing guitar notes lacing around low cello and steady drums; then, the kinetic Dorrian sprints headlong while the band stands still, dismayed by the sudden departure. As the song fades into what feels like an exhalation, you might be struck by the familiarity of this kind of relationship—a situation that’s contentious to the point of collapse. For years, an emotional narrative like this one would have seemed superfluous for Tangents, a quintet devoted to technical dexterity and clarity. On New Bodies, they allow those sharpened skills to inhabit emerging human forms, a move that speaks as powerfully to the heart as it does to the brain.
Grayson Haver Currin / Pitchfork