Author Archive


Max Schaefer on Nov 4th 2008 12:20 am

Tujiko Noriko, Lawrence English & John Chantler: U

Room40 2008
08 Tracks. 38mins57secs

Room 40 captain Lawrence English, musician John Chantler, and chanteuse Tujiko Noriko tumble together and tug apart over the course of U, inexhaustibly stitching the strong physicality of melodic lines to acoustic nuance, whilst crisp, agile, insistent digital tattoos envelop them and insinuate into every interstice.

Far from the jerky, skewed cut-ups of some of Noriko’s earlier work, U develops a judicious restraint to create a space for listening.  The album, though hardly esoteric, and sometimes lacking the edge of discovery honed by a confidently individualized voice, is thus easy to get lost in. Continue Reading »

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HENNING SCHMIEDT: Klavierraum (Flau)

Max Schaefer on Oct 10th 2008 12:25 am

Flau 2008
15 Tracks.  61mins01secs

As his wife’s belly bloomed, pianist Henning Schmiedt similarly filled her room with chirruping meander-melodies that alternated with low-end frequencies like the earth’s crust fissuring and climaxing with seesawing hypno-patterns.

Schmiedt is an accomplished pianist, composer, and arranger, having studied music in Rostock, and having since scored works for several films and theatre productions. Continue Reading »

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GOLDMUND: The Malady Of Elegance (Type Recordings)

Max Schaefer on Sep 28th 2008 10:09 pm

Goldmund: The Malady Of Elegance

The Malady Of Elegance
Type Recordings 2008
15 Tracks.  55mins57secs

Keith Kenniff’s solo piano recordings show an unironic childlike wonder.  The Malady of Elegance, like Curduroy Road before it, is conservative in its tonal focus.  While its manner is reflective and studiedly neutral, the effect of these beautiful miniatures, performed with sublime delicacy, is oftentimes quietly haunting.

Pieces prove rather hypnotic in small doses.  Particularly during the first half of the recording, unfurling in an almost folk-like manner, tracks secrete tiny details at a meandering pace, fading in an out of earshot, and when they finally do well up and state their case, it’s a real event. Continue Reading »

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JEREMY BIBLE & JASON HENRY: Vryashn (Gear Of Sand)

Max Schaefer on Sep 22nd 2008 09:18 pm

Jeremy Bible & Jason Henry: Vryashn

Gear Of Sand 2008
02 Tracks. 54mins18secs

The two suites of ambitious, sweeping sounds that express but never wholly manifest themselves here, superimposed as they are in layers to infinity, were inspired by the shifting perspectives and hallucinogenic detail of dreams.  The mind reels in the declamatory breathlessness and multilayered incantations, out of which slip assiduous sonic close-ups that are soon swallowed by depersonalized electronic shadows, and which return hereafter only as distorted or transformed traces that haunt and push the works further still. Continue Reading »

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KAMRAN SADEGHI: Through Thickness (Dragon’s Eye Recordings)

Max Schaefer on Sep 18th 2008 09:30 pm

Kamran Sadeghi: Through Thickness

Through Thickness
Dragon’s Eye Recordings 2008
12Tracks.  58mins08secs

Kamran Sadeghi confronts one with grand interlocking structures and micromanaged outbursts of intense digital incident on Through Thickness.  As Sadeghi juxtaposes these incongruous traits, setting off mobile, surprisingly rounded, fulsome structures and then, in various manners, swiftly testing them for flexibility and points of weakness, he exploits space to draw out a sense of transience and ending so far as the human species is concerned.

The predetermined orderliness of something like Through is given a virus; its polished, not to mention elaborate, percussion arrangement is slowly infiltrated by fleshy, fatty tones that render its gait sluggish and leave it worse for wear, speckling a trail of goo over its stainless surface. Continue Reading »

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MIKO: Parade (Plop)

Max Schaefer on Sep 17th 2008 12:02 am

Miko: Parades

Plop 2008
12Tracks.  46mins57secs

Beyond the surface diverseness, a deep consistency and coherence can be heard in the debut effort from Miko, an artist dwelling in Yokohama, outside Tokyo.  The pieces bear traces of someone who was willing to relinquish a certain control, to make herself the instrument and allow each self-contained event unfold according to its own internal dynamic.

Works like Kingdom and Ride On Time thus come across as much as natural processes as proper songs. Continue Reading »

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Max Schaefer on Sep 10th 2008 10:26 pm

Machinefabriek: Dauw

Dekorder 2008
05 Tracks. 47mins06secs

As an audio collagist, structure is Rutger Zuydervelt’s particular forte, and in this respect Dauw is one of his strongest works to date.  Zuydervelt’s evinces noticeable compositional control over how he arranges and uses a small, considered palette of sounds.

An orderly canon structure builds soberly then breaks apart beautifully in Singel, the twenty-five minute closing track.  Zuydervelt has clearly matured in his ability to recontextualize traditional instruments with small scufflings, rich washes of surface noise and other infinitesimal sounds. Continue Reading »

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Max Schaefer on Sep 7th 2008 07:25 pm

mOAR 2008
11Tracks. 49mins08secs

With continued attention, what at first blush seemed a trifle meandering and indulgent, soon leaks into the subconscious owing to its untrammeled imagination, natural lucidity, and stylistic and thematic considerations and limitations. Continue Reading »

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TAPE: Opera Plus (Häpna) / TAPE: Milieu Plus (Häpna)

Max Schaefer on Jul 30th 2008 10:00 pm

Tape: Opera Plus

Opera Plus
Häpna 2002/2008
13Tracks. 63mins54secs

Tape: Milieu Plus

Milieu Plus
Häpna 2003/2008
12Tracks. 51mins58secs

The pooled intuition of Johan Berthling, Andreas Berthling, and Tomas Hallonsten is manifested predominantly in tightly controlled, continually surprising spontaneous designs – a sort of tightrope walk between high energy free blurt and rigorous attention to form.  The Swedish group has been embracing – even celebrating – their stylistic contradictions since 2002, and the versatile, lysergic fusion of languid free jazz, ambient, folk, and broken balladry has since weaved itself stealthily, but inexorably, into the fabric of contemporary music. Continue Reading »

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IZUMI MISAWA: Speaking Behind The Raindrops (Symbolic Interaction)

Max Schaefer on Jul 21st 2008 09:47 pm

Izumi Misawa: Speaking Behind The Raindrops

Speaking Behind The Raindrops
Symbolic Interaction 2008
10 Tracks. 43min45secs

Izumi Misawa stirs the atmosphere with hypnotic suggestion whereby vibration, tremors, repetition – whether of a musical rhythm or a spoken phrase – and special tone colors affect the mind through various levels of pressure on the senses.  These cycles of wistful instrumental sketches and flights of elytra often seem innocent enough, and even seem caught in the web of a giddy eclecticism, but the mood is one of serendipity, and the impassioned whirling is not without its justifications.

The tracks are of a patient, unhurried, un-mechanized mind.  A frenetic succession of scratched fragments cracks the proceedings open before a lurching procession of wobbly, spasmodic beats settles them down, at which point they are wedded to beatific textures, shimmering keyboards and disparate shards of found sound that provide moments of dizzying disruption. Continue Reading »

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STEPHAN MATHIEU: Radioland (Die Schachtel)

Max Schaefer on Jun 1st 2008 09:46 pm

Stephan Mathieu: Radioland

Die Schachtel 2008
07 Tracks. 55mins48secs

The Sad Mac, Stephan Mathieu’s last album, dreamed an overfoaming white whose veneer was smudged and cracked by misty slides of tone and violin sonotas wrung through the proverbial digital hamper. Radioland slinks under the same umbrella, yet its materials float from a wholly other fount. The sack of material – which amounted to some fifty gigabytes – was sprung from real-time processed short-wave radio signals and was doctored through custom-designed auto-generative software. It’s no moot point, as the alterations in procedure makes the ensuing work a bit more enigmatic to itself, the elements a little more alien to one another, and thus better able to continually refresh their own theoretical premises. Continue Reading »

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YASHUSHI YOSHIDA: Little Grace (Noble)

Max Schaefer on May 8th 2008 10:22 pm

Yashushi Yoshida: Little Grace

Little Grace
Noble 2008
09Tracks. 46mins46secs

The cleft that separates this second fledgling of Yashushi Yoshida from his firstborn is its organic and free-flowing nature, the fact that it is determined by the multiplicity and perversity of nature rather than the studios technical demands.

Compositions are still structurally condensed, but Yoshida now endeavors to allow the notes to sound their natural timbres, to be infused and partially directed by the traces and contingencies of the atmosphere. The ensemble – which consists of violin, cello, clarinet, saxophone, saws and drums – therefore swoops and sweeps through the terrain, plucking, gliding, swerving and bending as they follow a wildly varying and versatile vision. Continue Reading »

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