Frode Gjerstad is the elder statesman of Norwegian free jazz. This particular release pairs him with drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Jon Rune Strøm, and it comes from a session recorded in 2015. He’s still got it.
This release has to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. I knew that my Facebook contact George Christian, was a talented musician, but his latest release flows between Noël Akchoté-style improvisation to something as mellow as early Popol Vuh. I look forward to hearing how his sound develops!
For years, I made the mistake of treating field recordings as a sub-genre of experimental music. That was due to me conflating the work of, say, Chris Watson (the natural sound recordist who once worked with Cabaret Voltaire and the Hafler Trio) or my old acquaintance Francisco López, and mixing the genres together without giving it too much thought. That was my mistake. Field recordings should be regarded as a genre unto itself, even if elements of other music make their way into these compositions. Nature, one’s home, an empty space, a road filled with automobiles or a beehive are treated as musical instruments. It’s particularly edifying when the artist gives you the privilege of allowing the listener to enter the world he or she inhabits.
The maestro responsible for Rabbits, Jeff Gburek, makes his 7th appearance on this blog. His latest work makes his field recordings and even the venues he recorded at (Gdansk, Poland, Dublin, Ireland and the island of Bali, Indonesia, according to his notes which are posted below) pulsate with life. This new work isn’t merely an intellectual exercise – it is truly an absorbing experience, one I’ve come to expect from him, and he has never disappointed me. He also finds a way to make experimental music relevant.
There is a presence floating in this work. Before Gburek went on tour recently, the legendary percussionist and performance artist Z’ev had passed away. The listener can hear his influence in the percussive parts of these recordings, and there is a very powerful part of Rabbits 1 which left me somewhat baffled as to what it was. It turns out to be a Native American medicine song, which adds a profound flavor to this piece.
I highly recommend purchasing the album, as not only are the three Rabbits tracks intriguing listening, but there is a fourth track you receive as part of your download. It takes a slightly different trajectory, and it fills out the album nicely.
Valentina Villarroel is one of the most unassuming artists we’ve even encountered. Content to let her work speak for itself, she provides only sparse descriptions. In a single sentence, she writes that Mares was recorded at “different locations around the region of Bio Bio, Chile.” The rest is up to us.
This is her second release of the season on Sonospace, arriving on the heels of the recently reissued Pequeñas Composiciones, an experimental set comprised of field recordings, found sounds and studio manipulations. Mares is more straightforward, a collection of crisply mastered recordings captured where land meets sea. It’s the best recording of its kind since Chris Silver T’s Salty Spots, and pairs nicely with Simon Šerc‘s Bora Scura: one set wind, the other one waves.
For those who can’t get to the beach, Mares makes an evocative sonic companion. The nine numbered tracks rise in…
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Our friend Santiago Fradejas has returned with his most powerful album to date. From what I understand, these soundscapes were all done with an electric guitar. He makes the most out of his weapon of choice, convincingly straddling the terrains of instrumental amplified guitar music, post-Industrial, and a very eerie take on contemporary classical/avant-garde music.
A Beginner’s Guide To Hard Hat Color Coding is a new project by BlindººCoyote, longstanding monicker of Drem Bruinsma, a Dutch-born composer now based in Alicante, Spain, whose work under this moniker reminds me of peak-period Cluster finding a bit of time to carouse with an early-wave Industrial band (think Cabaret Voltaire’s more daring experimental work than the dark funk they would produce during their heyday). It would make sense, as BlindººCoyote has been alive as a project since the early 1990s, and this particular sound to me is timeless. The project has been active (with some periods of non-activity) since its first 1993 release, Phantom Pain/Genkaku no Itami, a project which stemmed from a collaboration with legendary jazz fusion trumpeter Toshinori Kondo.
There’s something very kosmisch about this particular release, though it has flourishes of a cold, metallic bent. This floats surprisingly easily and envelops this listener into a dreamy, lulling feeling. There’s also a reminiscence of sounds made by such acts as BlindººCoyote’s one-time collaborators Tuxedomoon (he wrote scores for video, dance, theatre and collaborated with the individual members of Tuxedomoon, amongst others).
Not for the faint of heart, but rewarding in its own way. It was released by Cian Orbe, out of Santiago, Chile.