There was some sort of cohesive methodology behind the selection of works for tonight’s show, though I can’t really figure out what it was. Call it intuition.
Some of these notes have run into mini-review length, apologies for a lack of brevity…
1 – The Dadacomputer – ‘Missile Logic T’ – The Dadacomputer – United Kingdom, 1981
2 – Ophibre – ‘Composition B’ – Compositions For Disassembled Cassette – United States, 2008
A cassette that requires assembly upon acquisition? Right up our alley, isn’t it. This work in particular is reminiscent of some of Stephen Cornford’s tape experiments, though the A side consists of an amusing tutorial on precisely how to assemble said cassette followed by time spent waxing philosophical over soft pink noise. Must I point out that the cassette must be assembled to listen to the assembly instructions?
Although portions of Ophibre’s output are slightly mundane drone-based works (I should point out that many are dynamically very interesting and worth seeking out), his self-released cassettes have the wonderful packaging conceit of liner notes or objects stuffed into tiny resealable baggies attached to the case. People love things stuffed into tiny baggies – fact.
3 – Unan – ‘Mimus’ – Mimus / Skua [split w. Nikos Kyriazopoulos] – Greece, 2012
This track is half of a pair of works for a curatorial request of music inspired by or produced from birdsong. It would be easy to produce quotidian works, but while the inspiration is evident, neither fall into pastiche. Pleasingly varied without sounding meandering or cut-and-paste, Unan’s ‘Mimus’ often cuts almost indiscernibly between the acoustic and electronic. The background noise of what appears to be live recording is incredibly disarming and makes the sound fields much more intimate and engaging. The B side consists of the heavily manipulated analogue trills of ‘Skua’ by Nikos Kyriazopoulos. Both more acutely ‘experimental’ and also more derivative, it is nonetheless an entertaining listen – in parts like an extension of the fascinating Séance Vocibus Avium, organized by Wolfgang Müller.
4 – Kostis Kilymis – ‘Tiny Vices, Part 1’ – More Noise Ahead – England / Greece, 2012
One highlight from an selection full of them. Though Entr’acte featured excellent work in 2012 by John Wall, Mark Durgan, Renato Rinaldi and Adam Asnan, More Noise Ahead is the flagship for the label (and Organized Music From Thessaloniki) that year. There is a narrative arc across the album with finely tuned electronics building from fragile to emphatic to determinate to conditional. Just as the whole is structured, the individual tracks do not shy away from rhythm but rather find their sense of cyclical stability – generally tonal as opposed to percussive in nature. The gravitas of that particular pointillist approach encountered in more distilled form on Senufo Editions is lightened by music that is as often noisy as downright pretty. Already two years old, there is still much to be found on my tenth listen…
5 – Anne-F Jacques – Untitled – The Roberts Street Tape – Canada, 2012
6 – Francisco Meirino – ‘Focus On Nothing’ – Focus On Nothing On Focus [w. Kiko C. Esseiva] – Switzerland, 2013
Meirino here reconstitutes live recordings of his duos alongside Esseiva. For an excellent review by Chris Whitehead, head over to The Field Reporter. Suffice to say here that I am as smitten with this album as with much of Meirino’s work. It’s heavy manipulation and overt editing plays in particularly good balance alongside 2012’s Undetected, which consists of unedited and unmastered field recordings from Francisco’s no doubt sizable collection. The contrast of the critical autocannibalism of the former with the unapologetic narcissism of the latter is precisely what fascinates in his work.
Esseiva’s piece on the B-side runs at a frenetic pace, mining much of the same harmonically tense passages as Meirino’s (they were, after all, both playing live together and rehashing the same recordings). While ‘Nothing On Focus’ is, well, unfocused, his contribution to the somewhat more limited CDr included with early copies shows him in more cohesive and effective form. His track on The Gift focuses on disorienting the listener with timbral and panning experiments instead of editing tricks, and works beautifully. Both the LP and CDr are worth seeking out.
7 – Actress – ‘Grey Over Blue’ – Grey Over Blue – United Kingdom, 2013
This is ostensibly the last track attributable to the Actress alias, with Darren Cunningham moving on to other things (some of them hopefully musical in nature). A fitting, if gloomy, end. Much of his oeuvre had slightly sinister overtones, combining irksome melodies and structures with beats often just this side of danceable. A sort of Board of Canada for adults (with all due loving respect to the latter). The emotional connection was always a bit tenuous for me – I’ve traditionally mined the far left or far right flanks of electronic music (say, Markus Schmickler and Roska respectively), while Actress fell uncomfortably in the middle. This was of course its charm and many of his tracks have had more play around here trying to figure out just what it is about them that fascinates and frustrates in turn. Unapologetic, idiosyncratic and approachable, Actress will be missed.
Get the full show as a stream or download here.