AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Andrew Skeet – Finding Time (2015; Sony Classical)

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81NOl2AjmWL._SL1500_Orchestrator, dabbler (or more than a dabbler I’m sure, since what he does here makes me believe he’s a consummate pro) in electronics / electronica, video game music composer and  all around great arranger, on this solo outing the synergies of all of the above come together swimmingly.  This release demonstrates that when done tastefully, (as opposed to a patchy hodgepodge of saccharin strings and dated keyboard sounds)…the melding of orchestra and various “small” electronic swirls can, and does result in something hugely uplifting and ever so creative.

I’m reminded of a release a few decades back by Wim Mertens called “Integer Valor Integrale”.  Like Skeet’s work, it too had the same pensive, personal and positive energy while at the same time packing an emotional punch that can leave one touched (saddened maybe) by it’s simple, repetitive motifs.

When music works at this level, and for me it takes something pretty special to get me “there”…well, we have a keeper.  Thanks  for wearing it (and sharing it) on your sleeve Mr. Skeet.  Very Nice!




AMN Reviews: Eliogabal – Mo (2015)

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Eliogabal is a French “free rock” band. Such a categorization accurately puts them in a place between free jazz and avant-rock. Featuring Pierre Pasquis on drums, Quentin Biardeau on sax, Sakina Abdou also on sax, Paul Ménard on guitar, and Thomas Coquelet on bass, Eliogabal leverages this lineup to provide heavily-distorted, almost fuzzed-out, guitar and bass riffing, overlaid with dual-sax themes. At first blush, the guitar, bass, and drums evoke Red-era King Crimson, but this group has more in common sound-wise with the 1990s work of European outfits such as Blast, X-Legged Sally, and Fukkeduk.

While a significant portion of Mo is clearly composed, the group does take it down to loose free-improv with muted guitar picking and sax melodies. Thus, this 30-minute release alternates between short bursts of energy and more introspective pieces. But Eliogabal is at their best when Biardeau and Abdou lay down an angular rhythm over an aggressive guitar and rhythm section. Consequently, Mo could easily be something you would expect to hear from the Cuneiform Records or ReR labels. A compelling release.

AMN Reviews: Øe – Unseed (2015; Hanami)

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R-7063745-1434617664-6960.jpegA field recording inching through bucolic digital optic fiber. Unseed is the first in the Hanami Series by Arboretum Records, which plans to release a single, spartanly designed album sometime betwen April and May each year, when the cherry trees blossom (tucked into its gatefold, a few seeds of the perennial to plant). “Hanami” is a Japanese term denoting the bittersweet awareness of the transient beauty of such natural phenomena. Øe, Fabio Perletta´s minimalistic but melodic ambient guise, has perfectly captured this remit with a set of sincere pieces swaying heliotropically, gently following the oscillating light in aerosol ambience. The clock of spring is ticking, counted by fat drops of water plunging into a trough through an intermittent rain of glitches. Containing gingerly repurposed samples from Perletta´s Transfer (2012), Unseed´s illusory but sensate garden stimulates emotions e.e. cummings would have called “authentic and delirious.”

Stephen Fruitman

AMN Reviews: Michael Pisaro – Melody, Silence [Potlatch P115]

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20282Guitarist/composer Michael Pisaro is a well-known figure associated with the Wandelweiser group, a fluid collective of composers and musicians interested as much in the spaces in between sounds as in the sounds alone. This interest is conveyed not only in the title of this single long work for solo guitar, played by Chilean guitarist Cristián Alvear, but in the structure of the work itself.

Melody—or more frequently, harmony—and silence are the two fundamental states between which the forty-six minute long piece oscillates. The piece is largely a sequence of discrete chords or notes played individually or clustered together in packets of a few, separated by silences. Each chord or tone is allowed to linger and decay at its own rate. Some chords work together like progressions with more or less expected cadences, while others eschew any allusion to resolving, sounding instead like juxtaposed aggregates of tones, some of them combined into dissonances of varying degrees of pungency. At about four minutes in, an unexpected, recurring third element is introduced—a prolonged sine tone (or ebow?) that in its initial occurrence here lasts for nine minutes or so.

Because Melody, Silence is made up of a set of components to be arranged by the performer, the piece as played on this recording is a reflection not only of Alvear’s fine touch, but of his structural choices as well.

AMN Reviews: Praxis – Sound Virus (2015; MOD Technologies)

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By Michael Eisenberg

unnamedBill Laswell / Buckethead / Brain, featuring John Zorn, Mick Harris, and Yamatsuka Eye

This hasn’t left the smart phone for a good couple weeks, that’s how much I’m digging it! Having not heard Praxis in a while, upon hearing this one it all came back, and I don’t think much has changed over the years.

Lots of shredding by Buckethead, but actually lots of very melodic passages as well. I think the very fact that it isn’t a 100% shred-fest was the record’s greatest appeal to me. Oh it’s there, believe me, it’s there big time. But there is some really beautiful / tuneful guitar playing popping up all over the place too.

Of course there is the patented Laswell woofer ripping dub-ified bass lines but we are also getting a whole bunch of little audio easter eggs (that I guess can be attributed to BL) that made me smile…lots! What I’m talking about are some of the random studio fuckery bits that are dumped into this recording. Things you would probably miss if you weren’t listening carefully. I’m still hearing new things after several listenings and I think this aspect is very cool.

Zorn makes a few cameos squealing away on his sax and you also get Eye in there blubbering and blathering in some indecipherable tongue, but thats cool…it kind of adds a Naked City vibe a little. Mick Harris…I have no idea where he is but the drumming throughout is solid of course.

In the end…good stuff. If you are even a casual fan of any of these guys, this release comes highly rec’ed!

AMN Reviews: NYM – Untitled (2015; Attenuation Circuit)

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R-7016627-1431762795-9705.jpegMystery artist NYM´s Untitled contribution to Attenuation Circuit´s small-run artisan CDR series is pretty aptly characterized as Thomas Köner mixing Lustmord, though I might object that more of a tale is being told than the celebrated but stoic sound colorists would choose. It is a truly massive half hour, ataxic rather than glacial in movement, strife-riven, suns sputtering flares and collapsing into white dwarves in the place where the black stars hang (it is hard to disengage from the comparison once it´s been planted in your head). Dark ambient as unambiguous as a man´s ruin tattoo.

Stephen Fruitman

AMN Reviews: Craig Pedersen Quartet – Ghosts (2015)

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ghosts-coverOn Ghosts, trumpeter Craig Pedersen leads his quartet through 18 minutes of composed avant-jazz. Also featuring Linsey Wellman on sax, Joel Kerr on bass, and Eric Thibodeau on drums, the five tracks of this release are dense with ideas and texture. An immediate comparison can be made to Albert Ayler, though Pedersen captures more of Ayler’s spirit than sound.

The group alternates between discordant, horn-driven pieces and more introspective, antebellum efforts. But even on the quieter pieces, there is a subtle tension boiling beneath the surface that occasionally explodes into a free blow-out. With none of the tracks reaching five minutes, Pedersen and company force themselves to make a statement then walk away. Ghosts is a compelling statement, both haunting an energetic. Let’s hope that this quartet returns for more.