Author Archive

VARIOUS ARTISTS: 1 | Favourite Places (Audiobulb Records)

Max Schaefer on May 8th 2008 09:21 pm

V/A: Favourite Places

1 | Favourite Places
Audiobulb Records 2008
10Tracks. 54mins04secs

A foray into the psychological swamp of today’s practitioners of experimental electronica, the simple though direct and ultimately telling quality of the question that underlies this compilation shines through the ensuing compositions like light through a stained glass window. “What is your favorite place in the world?” the label asks and Aaron Ximm, Taylor Deupree, Biosphere, and Leafcutter John, amongst others, are those who give voice to their private sentiments on the matter.

Apart from the aural evidence provided, each artist scrawls a brief gambit concerning their selection, where the sounds are protruding from and why it seems pertinent. It is pulled off with poise and a certain sense of importance, and this makes it something in which investments can be made, won, and lost, rather than something that asks for little and is content to be thumbed through casually. Continue Reading »

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BOBBY & BLUMM: Everybody Loves… (Morr Music)

Max Schaefer on Apr 30th 2008 09:21 pm

Bobby & Blumm: Everybody Loves…

Everybody Loves…
Morr Music 2008
13Tracks. 43mins00secs

A leader of a pop-camp for teenage girls in Sweden by day, Ellinor Blixt (aka Bobby) teams up with Germany’s F.S. Blumm for Everybody Loves…, a small clutch of tracks recorded some fifty kilometres north of Berlin in a cabin near the edge of a forest.

The album evokes a tapestry of visions: the playful though subdued approach to harmony and layering stirs up warmth and violet sunsets while the echoes of beaten vibraphone and thumb piano nudging up against soft blades of guitar as they linger and roll slowly in a hazy ambience reminds of a Vermont spring. Continue Reading »

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JASMINA MASCHINA: The Demolition Series (Staubgold)

Max Schaefer on Apr 28th 2008 11:08 pm

Jasmina Maschina: The Demolition Series

The Demolition Series
Staubgold 2008
09Tracks. 41mins24secs

In her involvement with experimental electronica duo Minit, Jasmina Maschina manipulates a minuscule bundle of patterns that wrinkle and pucker. Something of a surprising shift, then, is her first solo effort, The Demolition Series, a bald folk album where she nags away at melodic fragments while her parched vocal delivery emits opaque but expressive pearls. Continue Reading »

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Max Schaefer on Apr 14th 2008 10:34 pm

Christopher Bissonnette: In Between Words

In Between Words
Kranky 2008
06Tracks. 50mins48secs

In Between Words nurtures the universal within the particular, the history within the humdrum. A growing interest in the scattered and repetitive sounds of daily life has developed on the part of Christopher Bissonnette, and this work reflects it with all the spirituality and ingenuity of a mirror.

First an instrument or found sound establishes a pattern explicitly, and then, in a spectral manner, it reappears in a distant tsunami of dense, multilayered ambience. Afterwards high harmonics and out of reach scratch intone the motif time and again, and the variations multiply one on the other. Continue Reading »

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Rod Modell – Incense & Black Light (Plop)

Max Schaefer on Apr 1st 2008 12:36 am

Rod Modell: Incense & Black Light

Incense & Black Light
Plop 2008
10Tracks. 57mins57secs.

With Incense & Black Light, Detroit-based minimal techno producer and Deepchord Records manager Rod Modell has produced a work more unseemly than probably even he realizes. While Modell’s early work was concerned with electro-acoustic experimentation, he’s since entertained cinematic space-out fancies and, more recently, beat-oriented music lined with traces of both dub and house. This album, his most coherent and effective, is thus a jarring but delightful collision of influences and inspirations.

The tracks display a furrowed brow focus on a particular sort of hunched, anxious groove, one caught between dub’s half-time skank and techno’s blithe forward motion. Continue Reading »

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AARON MARTIN: River Water (Preservation)

Max Schaefer on Mar 31st 2008 11:37 pm

Aaron Martin: River Water

River Water
Preservation 2008
10Tracks. 46mins56secs

River Water is a more varied and energetic outing than Aaron Martin’s sober debut, Almond, published on Australian imprint Preservation in 2006. Martin takes the ephemeral world music concept and pushes it forward boldly, and although it’s something of a bitty collection, it’s one packed with episode and intense detail.

The compositions are finely detailed with a bevy of instruments – cello and violin feature predominantly, backed by flute, singing bowls, spanish bells, mandolin, harmonica, ukulele, and a variety of other non-conventional instruments. Martin’s playing is generally flinty, and he oscillates between backgrounds that are relatively sparse to other more heavily textured, a decision which allows the music to be both intimate and suggestive of a grand scale. Continue Reading »

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Max Schaefer on Mar 19th 2008 11:23 pm

Solo Andata/Seaworthy/Taylor Deupree: Live In Melbourne

Live In Melbourne
12K 2008
03Tracks. 49mins.37secs

Photographer, sound artist and label manager Taylor Deupree took to recording the festivities housed under the Social Club one April night in Melbourne, Australia. With good reason, too, for the night displayed here bristles with a vast array of events, too numerous to catalogue. The sonic endeavors of Solo Andata, Seaworthy, and Deupree himself, are filtered through a refined sensibility, resulting in a work of coherent flow and balance, and, perhaps most importantly, an ephemeral elegance bound to a very real sense of time and place. Continue Reading »

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AUTISTICI – Volume Objects (12k)

Max Schaefer on Feb 21st 2008 10:53 pm

Autistici: Volume Objects

Volume Objects
12K 2008
09 Tracks. 44mins05secs

Autistici gives over his first full-length to the object – to its ruses and to its allure. It’s something evident in both the album and the photographs that accompany it. Shots of metallic wires and their sharp calm; woodboards and their comforting simplicity; even a granular wall, wrinkled like an aged face, betrays a mystery that cannot be exhumed. Never in any of this is there a subject to be found.

In the album, too, pieces aren’t driven by a compositional (subjective) sense. Autistici is concerned with tracing the line of sound itself, with letting it develop, fleshing it out by (re)approaching it time and again from weirdly skewed studio perspectives. Continue Reading »

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ANGEL: Kalmukia (Editions Mego)

Max Schaefer on Feb 17th 2008 11:35 pm

Angel: Kalmukia

Editions Mego 2008
04 Tracks. 57mins47secs

As though emerging from a pirate airwave, the deep wobbly bass and stabs of twilight noise that open Kalmukia shadow the dirty, chaotic dynamism of so much present-day metal rock. It makes for a disconcerting moment, but at the very least, the rest of the album is an oftentimes disorienting, disjointed experience.

Ilpo Vaisanen (Pan Sonic), Hildur Guonadottir (Lost In Hildurness), and Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM) tie together all of their loose, flying ends, but a great deal of curiosity and tact isn’t shown in the process. Continue Reading »

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THE 2007 REVIEW: Max Schaefer

Max Schaefer on Dec 20th 2007 11:23 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

As certain traditions would have it, a drawer, bedside table or any other such object is gradually overtaken by time, which solidifies until at last the object becomes the incarnation of a certain spirit. Thus the annual spring cleaning. Similarly, before the year goes out like a light, we shuffle through gifts, keepsakes, thoughts even – hoping to see where we stand. Here are some noteworthy tokens that I’ll be keeping with me from the past twelve months.

Ikue Mori: Bhima Swarga: The Journey Of The Soul From Hell To Heaven1.

Bhima Swarga: The Journey Of The Soul From Hell To Heaven
Tzadik Continue Reading »

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: A Number Of Small Things: A Collection Of Morr Music Singles From 2001-2007

Max Schaefer on Nov 30th 2007 10:24 pm

V/A: A Number Of Small Things

A Number Of Small Things
Morr Music 2007
36 Tracks. 154mins42secs

A Number Of Small Things, the sister label to Morr Music, gathers together the residues from their 7″ releases like little trinkets and presents them in this achingly compulsive compilation of unexpected pleasures. The album presents a stage on which older, more established artists present vivid re-imaginings of their bookmarks, while other, less exposed acts utter their first words with tentative excitement. Continue Reading »

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CLOUDLAND CANYON: Silver Tongued Sisyphus (Kranky)

Max Schaefer on Nov 15th 2007 11:03 pm

Cloudland Canyon: Silver Tongued Sisyphus

Silver Tongued Sisyphus
Kranky 2007
02 Tracks. 23mins35secs

At twenty-three minutes, this EP from Cloudland Canyon is a tight, concentrated workout for freeform percussion, guitar and woozy ambient washes that pull at the listener’s nerve endings. All of the segments of which these works consist are ingeniously sequenced together, taking full advantage of each moment of contrast or continuity. The opening piece is defined by layers of telegraphic bleeps slipping and sliding over each other, to the accompaniment of distant, contorted percussive crashes, and heavy, reverberating guitar figures. Continue Reading »

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