Sunday, February 26, 2012
Here are a few images from a little filmic oddity which I finally got round to watching last night. Based on Geoffrey Fletcher’s book of the same title,"The London Nobody Knows" follows actor James Mason on a psychogeographical walk through the neglected, hidden and seamy streets of post war London. Infused with period charm,the film depicts a strange netherworld of melancholic meths drinkers,tilted streets,eel soup,goldfish swimming in Victorian public toilets and the odd piece of electronic library music by composer Wilfred Burns (see youtube clip below). Lovely.
A Sound Awareness at 4:44 AM
Friday, February 24, 2012
Another impossible to find Italian library recording sees the light of day once more. Originally released in 1972, in a minute pressing of 500 copies by the Italian Gemelli label, Egisto Macchi's "I Futuribili" is perhaps one of the finest examples of Italian library music ever recorded. Despite working extensively in the field of film, television and soundtrack music for over forty years, Egisto Macchi is known little outside a few soundtrack collectors and music library music aficionados. This is a shame, as much of his work and especially this recording is remarkably unparalleled in both vision and execution. The oppressive incertitude of "Camere Anecoiche"is a masterful study in compositional suspense. Vapourous and eerie electronic tones pulse and fluctuate like the flapping wings of stunted and misshapen insects. Sound becomes slowly asphyxiated as tense, blunted string motifs twist, loosen and tighten around the main electronic theme, the effect is like being suspended in a hallucinatory, motionless hall of fevered dreams. With each successive listen, new details are born out of the darkness, hidden resonances wait in the shadows, eager to snare the unsuspecting listener. "Nouvi Planeti" demonstrates Egisto Macchi's consummate prowess in cinematic composition, this arrangement weirdly pollinates twilight zone stuttering pizzicato, rattling percussive palpitations and deep resonant drum tremors which oddly sound reminiscent of a funereal procession in space. "Richiami Spacziali" is darker still, a vertigo inducing contradiction of ascending and descending scales, rising and falling in foul perfection. Sonorous strings decay in bleak noctambulation, the forest is alive with owl-like woodwind, archaic electronics cackle, rattle and hiss creating a veritable cinema for the ears. Thematically, "I Futuribili"is a strange beast, with sound images consistently converging in unexpected and radical ways. It seems strange that music such as this, which was originally intended as mere background music for the flickering screen and cathode ray tube sounds so emotively powerful to modern ears. Far from a collection of miscellaneous cues, each composition builds and develops into a singular vision of a dark, sinister, mysterious sound world. Is this sacred music? Is it music of the profane? Is this music of inner or music of outer space? Is this music of past, present or future? "Forme Planetaire" is a perfect example of these contradictions, as dank moog droplets languorously fall from the heavens, forming taught harmonic stalactites gilded by an elegant and restrained string arrangement. Sounds dissolve then momentarily reappear, flickering, wraithlike. In this dark,untenanted landscape everything which is solid melts into the black miasmatic smog. "I Futuribili", which translates as "The Futuristic" is a fascinating, category defying recording, investigate it at the earliest opportunity. Another wonderful cinematic communique from the immeasurable darkness by Roundtable. Now, if someone will only be so kind as to reissue Città Notte.
"I Futuribili" by Egisto Macchi is out now on Roundtable/Omni Recording Corporation in a limited run of 500.
A Sound Awareness at 9:12 AM
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Here are a few photographs I took yesterday while visiting a rather wonderful exhibition of work by marginalised and at times controversial British artist Austin Osman Spare at The Hidden Noise in Glasgow. The show presents a small selection of hallucinatory, seldom seen works from various private collections. Having recently read this fine book, it was a joy to see Spares's exquisite draughtsmanship in the flesh. I was particularly drawn in by his peculiar, anamorphic portraits which are like a sideways glance into a mysterious and strange world. The show runs to the 17th March and is well worth a visit if you're in the vicinity.
A Sound Awareness at 7:17 AM
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
A Sound Awareness at 11:24 AM
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
This long-lost Italian library session from 1971 may prove arguably to be the finest release of the year. Rescued by vinyl archaeologists James Pianta, Jeff Wybrow, Callum Flack and David Thrussell, this wonderfully dark and complex recording is an unrepentant collision of free jazz, avant garde sensibility and rhythmic drum patterns which will appeal to beat diggers and free improv heads alike. Recorded by the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza as a companion piece to the mythical "The Feed-Back" by The Group (a record which has recently changed hands for over $1000), the result is a profoundly disorienting music that thrives on the tension between aggressive rhythmic interplay, unsettling free form improvisation and dark mood music.
Founded in Rome in 1964 by composer Franco Evangelsiti, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza was formed as experimental music laboratory dedicated to the exploration of new music techniques such as improvisation, noise and anti-musical systems. Comprising of soundtrack musicians working in the burgeoning Italian film and television scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the collective featured such musical luminaries as Ennio Morricone (trumpet) and Egisto Macchi (percussions) in its ranks. This release very much documents the definitive moments of this 'peaked' improvisational collective.
"Niente" by Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza is out now on Roundtable/Omni Recording Corporation in a limited run of 500.
"Niente" opens with a deep propulsive drum groove somewhere between Clyde Stubblefield and Jaki Liebezeit. The beat is motorik, relentless and unforgiving. Dark fissures of analog synth bubble up, a twisted fuzz bass prowls around the yard, the elasticated metal of prepared piano shards incise and unhinge the groove. The beat goes on. The drummer drums, staring unblinking into the abyss. Sounds organically crack, cut, rattle and tremor but never quite unsettle the drummer's endless metronomic pulse. There is a dark hypnotic undertow to much of this music evoking a phantasmagorical landscape of insecurity, trauma and fear. Listening becomes a profoundly disquieting experience. "Bambu #2" is a nightmare factory of hazed tape music, combining abrasive fuzz, muted trumpet and giallio vocal murmurings. "Renitenza" is beautifully hypnotic and dizzying at the same time. Constructed around complex drum phasing and daydream zoner improv, the track travels from vigorous, almost deranged percussive forays into a decayed, ghostly cave of sound. Likewise, "Padrone Delle Ferrierre" weirdly shimmers in flickering polyrhythms, scrying in the smoke until it slowly dissolves in tenebrous, blurred narcotic instantiability. Side two opens with the heavy drum skonk of "Mattatoio". The sound is wilder, freer, more animalistic, a dense and tightly woven mesh of fierce drums, hot-wired guitar skree, jazz marimba and howling horns. "Sieben" is a particular favourite, a short tight Schifrinesque drum loop, combining strummed aeolian harp, blunted harmonics and eerie chimes to chilling effect. "Natale E Detroit" is peculiarly odd, like a weird meeting point between Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" and calypso music, just hearing this unique oddity was worth the price of admission alone. "Niente" is a truly masterful and essential release and worth your immediate attention. Do not sleep.
A Sound Awareness at 4:39 AM
The analog sound of electronic wow and flutter simulating breathing opens and gives life to this marvellous and varied collection of mutant synthwave soon to be released on Finders Keepers. Described as “the American Delia Derbyshire of the Atari Generation”, this release sets to investigate the hidden and seldom heard sound world of electronic composer Suzanne Ciani. Despite her involvement in the production of electronic music for over forty years, few people will be au courant with her vast and varied sonic portfolio. Ciani was responsible for the creation of electronic sounds for the early Xenon pinball machine, produced numerous corporate sound idents and logos for multinational companies [such as Atari, Coca Cola, General Motors, Sunkist and M&M Candy] in addition to creating a wealth of personal electronic experimentation. This retrospective includes both her work for commercial companies as well as documenting her unreleased compositional experiments and it is perhaps the dichotomy of this aural tightrope between public and private compositions which makes this collection so utterly fascinating. Compare the eight second hyperreal masterpiece of early eighties audio advertising entitled "Coca-Cola Pop & Pour Logo" with the pale gaseous resonance of the composition "Paris 1971" and you'd be hard pressed to detect communality. The shorter tracks such as "Sound Of A Dream Kissing" jump cut quick electro data pulses and infuse them with percolating musique concrete. Many of the longer tracks shimmer in glacial kosmiche wonder with sine waves and data tones slowly morphing and mutating into ever evolving electronic luminescence. By far my favourite composition is "Second Breath" which examines a microtonal landscape of layered sound reminiscent of the deep listening compositions of minimalist composer Phill Niblock but without the overtly stifling overtones of academia. A real wondrous ear and eye opener.
Lixiviation by Suzanne Ciani is released by Finders Keepers on the 13th February.
A Sound Awareness at 12:55 PM