[Music] Richmond Avant Improv Collective – Chance Operations

As I finally had a long stretch of time where I could actually enjoy hearing whole albums again, I decided that RAIC would be Album Number One today.  What a revelation this one has turned out to be!

According to the collective’s Bandcamp website for this release, “Chance Operations was inspired by John Cage’s “Silence.” RAIC often brings together musicians who normally would never play together. For Chance Operations, twenty musicians from a wide range of backgrounds- jazz, rock, noise and world music, some with backgrounds in improvisation and some without – came together at Etching Tin Studios in Richmond, Virginia. The musicians’ names were written on different ping pong balls and then placed in a sealed container. In a separate container were balls with the number for the ensemble ranging from a duet to a sextet.”  Chance operation, indeed.

The album itself makes for eerie listening.  There is one track which stood out for me, “Irrigating An Arid World,” where shrieks, wailing and very sparse instrumentation make one feel like they are on a heavy hallucinogenic trip.  The spirit of John Cage having a heavily spiked mushroom tea with Sun Ra and, maybe, Cathy Berberian or Diamanda Galás, permeates this album.  The group have a new album coming soon, and I’m already looking forward to hearing much more from them.

[Music] Various Artists – Witchcraft & Black Magic In The United Kingdom

Our friend and compatriot Raffaele Pezzalla (the legend behind Sonologyst, Unexplained Sounds Group and Eighth Tower Records) has made yet another masterful compilation, bringing together such acts as Rapoon, Michael Bonaventure and Daniel Williams to pay tribute to one of England’s quirkier periods – that of witchcraft in the British Isles.

I see the history of witchcraft from both a Christian and historical point of view which differs from what the liner notes say, but be that as it may, the compilation is solid, and I only regret I didn’t review this about two weeks ago, as it makes for great Halloween / All Souls’ Day listening.

[Music] JOHN 3​:​16 – JOHN 3​:​16 / Visions Of The Hereafter

JOHN 3:16 are among the most powerful bands in dark ambient and drone music today.  Philippe Gerber continues to amaze with his catalog, but this release is particularly special, as I never had the chance to delve into their early catalog.

This release combines the first two albums by the band onto one cassette.  Both releases remind me not just of dark ambient music, but of the middle period post-Industrial and experimental music I grew up with.

Favorable is not a strong enough word to rank this release.  It’s quite powerful.

[Music] Various Artists – Anthology of Contemporary Music From Middle East

Never think that the Middle East is ignorant of current musical (or anti-musical) trends.  They are probably better informed that a fair amount of their Western colleagues, and are making music that proves it.  Once again, many thanks to the brilliant Raffaele Pezzella for being such a visionary.

From the Unexplained Sounds Group Bandcamp site:

Following the Anthology of contemporary music from the African continent, this new collection released by Unexplained Sounds Group, focuses on experimental and alternative music from the Middle East and includes artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Afghanistan, Cyprus. A kaleidoscope of sounds by artists rooted in their traditions, but at the same time projected towards the new frontiers of music. The minimal melody of Ahmed Saleh introduces us to the exploration of sound paths that unfold through the electronic experimentation of Cenk Ergun, the radical improvisation of Mazen Kerbaj, the pulsating and disturbed electronic of Tony Elieh, the noise drone of Nyctalllz, the tribal and psychedelic music, in the Velvet Underground style, by Afghan musician Naujawanan Baidar, the lysergic ambient of Bloom Tribe, just to mention some projects included in the compilation. An intricate and exciting sound puzzle in which the listener will find his favorite way to a new promised land of sound.

[Music] Haram Tapes – Scorpions & Fountains

Haram Tapes is the side project of our friend Sumatran Black, and he’s really outdoing himself on this latest release.  Genres blend seamlessly here, with ambient music, old industrial-influenced electronic music, field recordings and synth music being balanced well enough to be creepy and engaging.  The material is very topical, quite political in a way that is not preachy or obnoxious, and it goes to show HT put a lot of thought into composing a story with this work.

A brilliant piece, but I expect this coming from Pete of SB.