White noise (tr: witte ruis) is a signal which contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency. It surfaces as thermal noise in resistors. It is the sound you hear when an old tv receives no signal. It is also applicable as part of sensory deprivation.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
For the time being, I'm gonna stop reviewing. Most thing I've done in the recent past were for Connexion Bizarre but as they stopped, I guess it's an obvious choice to also end my current reviewing activities. This doesn't mean I'm calling music quits, au contraire! I'm gonna focus on my / our own sound and hope to produce one or two albums in 2012 and work on a few long overdue ideas that have been buzzin' in my head ...
To follow my activities:
That's about it I guess.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
"El Rey ha muerto. ¡Larga vida al Rey!"
It took Stefan Knappe 18 years to fill the roster of one hundred 7" releases on Drone records. Since the first 7" by his own Maeror Tri (which was actually predated with a cassette release in 1991, also by Maeror Tri) Drone Records has been a home for artists to release their sounds on the sacred vinyl as well as get a chance to deliver their own artwork.
The simple artwork yet immense thick drones by Yen Pox (DR-15), the 'Fuck, how am I gonna send out 250 metal plates'-release by [multer] (DR-51) and the fragile boxed edition by Xabec (DR-92). Very known as well as completely unknown artists, who either made it or not, they are a part of Drone's 18 year history of &" vinyl releases.
But times, they are a-changing. It is time for something new, and the chosen format is vinyl, LP, and four artists per release to promote their sounds and become part of the family.
On this first release in the new series, pressed in solid white, green, gold and black / orange mixed vinyl, we get aquatinted with new works by four artists from different scenes: Ubeboet, Halo Manash, Jarl and B°Tong. And no, for a change me, your humble reviewer, will NOT go in depth into all the tracks and describe them for you. Because if you made it this far already, you KNOW you want this album, and you ARE going to buy it.
What makes this release a definite must have is the same reason why you visit festivals with sounds, music and sound-art. Even if you don't know all this artists or there is a track you maybe don't like at the beginning, it fits the release as a whole. Exploration of artistic depths and differences, very well combined by His Masters Drone, Stefan Knappe.
Four days before the year 2011 is over, this release solidly puts itself in the annual Top Three. Without ANY doubt!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The next CD to hit the CD-player (not the built-in computer thing with shitty speakers, relax!) Is by the Norwegian musician Erik Wøllo. Just like the recently reviewed Projekt-release by Steve Roach, this too concerns a double CD in the heavy cardboard digipack with esoteric design, just the way we are used from Sam Rosenthal.
Erik Wøllo is a new name for me, but according to Discogs he has musically been active since 1983, with 22 releases under his own name. The last few years, there have been annual releases on Projekt so it seems he found his home. "Guitarist, synthesist and composer" is how he is labelled in the promo-sheet, and all of these aspects will turn out to be true.
But first things first: 'Silent Currents (Live At Star's End)" makes us curious for one thing. Not whether the CD contain live-recordings, because that's a given. But the 'Star's End' part ... It turns out to be the world's longest running radio-show on the subject of ambient, to be precise: It's been on weekly since 1976 in the Philadelphia area. The recordings presented on this release were made when Erik played 'The Gatherings' festival in 2002 and 2007 and 'Star's End' asked him to do a live-show on their program.
With two double CD releases in the same styles packaging, both live and both on the same label (ref: Steve Roach - 'Journey Of One') it's a bit obvious that as a reviewer one tends to compare. Not a bad thing and style-wise the releases do come close. Both have those heavy layered ambience, analog sounding pads, etheric atmosphere, yet still there is also a very clear difference between the two artists. Where Steve Roack is working mostly with aspects or ethnicity and rituals, Erik Wøllo much more fills the composition with melodies and synthetic explorations. Which makes both releases have a very definite own style, even though they DO sound alike for the untrained listener.
To make a long story short, an absolute "Do Try This At Home" for ambient lovers who don't mind the progressive use of guitar and other melodic instruments, and who do know where and how ambient music started.
From Sam at Projekt we received a nice package with some new releases on his label and it is sufficient to say these or not 'just' any releases. I mean, that's not how we know Projekt, right?
The first release that fell out of the envelope is by Steve Roach. It is titled 'Journey Of One' with a subtitle 'The Tribal Ambient Era, Live 1996'. It is a registration from a solo concert Steve did at november 8th, 1996 in Sacramento. Off course it was not a 30 minute in-and-out press play kinda performance, but a solid 90+ minutes happening, showcasing all styles and stuff Steve is capable of. Maybe not all, but those I knew from him did find their way into this set.
Despite his huge (!) catalog from 90+ releases - either splits or solos - I only have one earlier release in my private collection. Reading the promo-sheet that came with the release, the mid 90's were very characteristic for Steve's sound and style, and it is no surprise to me that the one other release I have is a '95 collaboration he did with Vidna Obmana.
So what can you expect if you never hear his work before? First of all, the CD's are split into parts, but the music plays as one long track on each CD. The main style under which is should be ordered is a mixture between ethnic, ethereal, ritual, drone and ambient. The composition has quite a strong improvisational feeling to it, because if you think at some point it could use a bit more rhythm, the ritual aspect steps in, if you think it's time for some rest, he steps back and lets the background drones do their work. With other words, the whole release is very balanced, which is also applicable for that earlier release I wrote about.
If you are interested in the before-mentioned styles, and are still missing a bit of ethnic, ethereal and ritual music in your collection, this is a great release to get.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Japanese sound artist slash composer Koji Asano released two CD's this year. The first one 'Solstice Eclipse' couldn't grab me as a full release, so I was very curious if that was an accident, a matter of taste or simple a missing connection between him and me. This second 2011 release 'Polar Parliament' should reveal the truth.
The CD is packed inside the same kind of case as the former one; The size of a jewel-case, but the same black plastic with foil we see in DVD packaging. Two macro photos of the wheels of a garbage bin (?) are printed in full color and the information is limited to what is necessary. Next to a CD the case holds a handkerchief in plastic foil with a picture of Mr. Asano. I could only think 'Why?' … It's not like a cum cloth as with SoiSong's 'Memory Box #1' I think. A little looking around makes it clear Koji more often gives away little presents with his releases. The original 'Solstice Eclipse' seems to have had a pen … But, Kleenex? Why!
Damn, I got to grab myself together, it's about the music, not about the Kleenex!
The two tracks are quite long and in contradiction to 'Solstice Eclipse', with this release that is not a bad thing. 'Polar Parliament' is way more varied and yet still slow enough in its movements to be considered a drone. Albeit - fair is fair - with a heavy electro-acoustical influence.
The first part counts just under 30 minutes and contains heavy pulsating sequences. The track seems to become rhythmic, but never gets to the point where it actually is. The second part of almost 40 minutes has an analog feel which, in combination with the watery sounds, makes the whole composition have that before mentioned electro-acoustical feel.
'Polar Parliament' is definitely worth the download, if I didn't have the CD already I wouldn't have hesitated. But still there is something to complain about, which would keep me personal from the overpriced $25 CD. That is that the whole thing should have been recorded better. The choking frequencies on certain moments ruin the flow and atmosphere. It has it's charm in some noise music, and certainly when it's recorded on tape, but with a probably laptop-based recording it's a big 'no'.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
According to his website and the many promotional material about him that is floating on the World Wide Waves, Koji Asano is someone special and somewhat of a prodigy. Up to now he released 45 albums of which 43 between '95 and '06. Then it became a bit more silent and that silence was broken in 2010 with the release of 'Galaxies' and in early 2011 there was 'Solstice Eclipse'.
The label he created to release all of his music is called Solstice, but to recognize if 'Solstice Eclipse' has a direct link to the label, its ideas, concept or output I would have to know more about Koji's music. Because - in all fairness - this is the first time I hear (of) him. But somehow this particular release doesn't tickle my research genes ...
To make a long story short, in the genre of electro-acoustic compositions / drones I have heard more and much of what I've heard was of a higher quality. The CD holds one long track (almost 48 minutes) with a sound-spectrum which is quite narrow. It is nowhere said which musical instruments are used as sound-source, but as far as my suspicion goes it must be something stringlike like a guitar.
The sounds are heavily processed and the track has an overall very nice structure. There are no real dull moments and the structures and modulations are impressive enough to listen to the whole composition. But if you reach the end, there is a good chance you will think if that was it.
Probably a must-have for his followers, but for newcomers to Koji another option might be a wiser choice. If you still want to try it, get the 3,95 dollar download and not the 24,95 dollar CD. This is a typical case of 'Try-before-you-buy'.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
“Substantia Innominata”, or to put it in a more common language, “Of Unknown Origin”, a 10″ series by the Drone Records sublabel which already featured artists like Daniel Menche and Yen Pox. With the label’s concept these releases are always a surprise when it comes to the content, and looking at the artwork and vinyl itself, a very collectible series.
The 15th chapter with the title “24″ was written, produced and executed by Mars Wellink, a.k.a. (ad)VANCE(d). Together with Robert Deters Mars formed Vance Orchestra for many years, one of the best known and highly appreciated drone projects in the Netherlands. A simple search on the web will give you loads of information to start investigating and exploring. “24″ is the fourth release by Mars Wellink as (ad)VANCE(d) and one he can be very proud of. The cover and vinyl are wonderful and the music triggers the brain over and over again.
Side A is titled “0618″ and sounds like the soundtrack to Ridley Scott’s recent recent movie “A Life in the Day”, a movie which was built from video material sent to the makers from all over the world on one particular day – the result is a collage which seems incoherent, but after you’ve given it more then just some superficial attention it comes to live. The sounds in here are quite recognizable, but in this case it’s the source that is unknown.
The reverse side entitled “1806″ opens with the same atmosphere because also some found sounds are used. It quickly changes into a heavy loop-based drone with frequencies almost too heavy for vinyl to reproduce. The loops evolve during the track and additional sounds are added into the spectrum, while others are slowly filtered out. The one constant I the track is the erratic voice in the background which gives the track an overall eerie feeling.
“24″ is dedicated to the memory of Raoul Teulings, and what an impressive dedication this is.