Mutek_rec / MTK CLB01 / 2001
Richard di Santo
Residence: Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
Mutek_rec / MTK CLB01 / 2001
Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no. 071, September 6, 2003… the hard, up-tempo, almost aggressive rhythms build your energy up to a raw, inexplicable high.
Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, May 19, 2003… an outstanding release.
Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, April 29, 2002From deep gongs to light rustling, strange scrapings and various clamourous sounds, Babin keeps things dynamic and interesting…
Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, March 19, 2002… a quick thumbnail guide to discovering some new and adventurous music.
One morning, I walked over to my car and discovered that it had been broken into during the night. The thieves were professional, in my view, and courteous too, since they managed to unlock the doors without causing a single scratch. But, alas, they still made off with all the CDs I had been collecting in there, about 10 or 12 at most, and nothing else was missing or damaged, so in the end it was just a nuisance that was best left ignored, to be taken lightly as a mere inconvenience. One of those CDs was the latest release from Books on Tape, the ongoing project by Todd Drootin who has been busy with a number of recent releases crowding the shelves of late. Sings the Blues, out on the No Type label (IMNT 088), is not a blues record, to be sure. It’s energy is incessantly high; right from the first moments, the hard, up-tempo, almost aggressive rhythms build your energy up to a raw, inexplicable high. Like a climax in a heist film, Henry Mancini’s music blaring wildly with jazz touches; but this isn’t Mancini, and there is no jazz touch here: it’s all electro, all pounding rhythms and simple, energetic melodies, from start to finish. If my copy wasn’t stolen, I couldn’t say how often I would return to this music, but it was great company for a few hi-speed car chases.
Beautifully packaged in a shimmering white jewellery box, the latest collaboration between improv innovators Martin Tétreault and Otomo Yoshihide (who released 21 situations together back in 1999, also on Ambiances Magnétiques) is an intense listening experience born from what we are told was an intense studio encounter.
Disc one, Studio, was recorded direct to DAT with no remixing or reprocessing, a true collaborative session performed on turntables and electronics. Listening, it seems that the electronic elements (shifting drones, dissonant crossings of feedback and static) are the more dominant features in these four tracks, harsh and grating, surely, but also with a surprising sense of calm, of being grounded, as if on firm footing.
Disc two, Analogique, is Tétreault’s analogue reworking of that live session into five new pieces, using old, “obsolete” tape recorders as his tools. Things become much more restless in Tétreault’s revision, with busying activity, in turns spacious and densely layered, with sounds that seem to have been torn apart at the seams fluttering to and fro. It’s an incredible exercise in tape manipulation with some surprising, challenging results.
Disc three, Numérique, as one might imagine, is Yoshihide’s reconstruction, a single, continuous mix that was generated using purely digital tools. His treatment is charged with immense energy and momentum, a bomb ready to explode. Concrete and electronic elements collide in fierce clashes, and even as this piece remains dynamic from the first to the last, it also seems grounded by long drones behind the scenes that occasionally weave in and out of the mix, remnants of the original sessions, mere traces of the past. Dividing the release into three discs was an excellent decision for this project in particular, and not only for aesthetic reasons; the format also allows the listener a short break between sets, allowing each one to be more fully digested, thought about, remembered, before moving on to the next one. In all respects, an outstanding release.
For the recordings of Chemin de fer, Montréal based sound explorer Magali Babin found inspiration in metallic objects of all shapes and sizes. Through improvisation, she brings out their sonorous qualities and created a series of dynamic sound sculptures; “sculpture” is a good term for this music (or, at least it’s a convenient term) because of its concrete qualities and strong textures. From deep gongs to light rustling, strange scrapings and various clamourous sounds, Babin keeps things dynamic and interesting, pursuing new ideas and sounds from different objects in each track. Very little, if any, digital processing was used in the making of these recordings. An intriguing buzzing drone pulses through the piece Monsieur et madame Watt. A beautifully rich scraping texture can be found on L’entonnoir, a relatively short piece with such an intense character. This is followed by short “chirps” dominating the following track. The diversity of sounds and intriguing arrangements notwithstanding, the listener is able to understand from the first couple of tracks the general tone and approach to the work as a whole. This is not to say that the music is predictable; but one picks up its “language” quickly. As a result, I found myself more interested in the first twenty or so minutes of listening, finding my curiosity and attention gradually waning after a while. Still, it’s an intriguing release, full of unusual tones, resonances and strikes; in short, a compelling introduction to Babin’s unique world of sound.
Perhaps it was inevitable that David Turgeon’s mp3 label No Type would make the transition to releasing CDs. After more than 3 years of mp3 publishing (the site was launched late 1998), they present their first compilation 2CD set. The Freest of Radicals presents 36 tracks featuring just as many artists. It features contributions by Le Chien Borgne, themoonstealingproject, Napalm Jazz, V.V., Sluts On Tape, Kalx, n.kra and a host of others, all of whom have been participants on No Type’s online programme at some point or another. With so many contributions, I couldn’t possibly do justice to each one, and the styles certainly vary. From the microsound of Tomas Jirku and Claudia Bonarelli to the abstract digital sculpting of speech.fake, or the post rock sensibilities of Kanovanik and Idmonster, the hyperbeats of Books On Tape, the chaotic distortions of martindx, the IDM-inspired rhythms of Headphone Science… there’s certainly no end to the breadth of styles contained in this release. The challenging and more abstract moments are matched by tracks with more prominent and sometimes even conventional rhythms, beats and even a few melodies thrown if for good measure. Surely, there’s a lot to digest here, almost too much for one release. Almost. Taken as a whole, the compilation sits a little heavily and uneasily with me; with so much to take in, and being thrown in so many different stylistic directions, it lacks some of the focus I would have liked to have seen in such a lengthy compilation. And yet I also have to admit that a number of strong contributions seems to make up for it. Perhaps The Freest of Radicals is better regarded as a “who’s who” of new, not-so-new and/or emerging talents from the No Type roster; a quick thumbnail guide to discovering some new and adventurous music.