AMN Reviews: Tag Cloud – A Few Moments of Daylight [Flag Day]; BLK w/ BEAR – MO RE B ROKEN TH AN Y OU [Little Cracked Rabbit LCR011]

A pair of new releases brings in strong work by two exemplary artists from the DC area’s electronic/experimental music underground. (And of course the usual disclosure applies–about friends, colleagues, and occasional collaborators.)

A Few Moments of Daylight, a three-track, EP length release from electronics artist/synthesist Tag Cloud (Chris Videll), frames its long title track in between two much shorter pieces that serve as its prelude and postlude. Videll constructs his sound out of layered drones and muted ostinati that, particularly on the long track, sum up to a post-ambient music with a meticulously whetted, serrated edge. It’s hypnotic and unsettling at the same time, as if it welled up from that time at the onset of sleep when one hears voices narrating barely intelligible stories.

MO RE B ROKEN TH AN Y OU is by BLK w/BEAR, a group whose outer circle of contributors is frequently shifting but whose nucleus is the more constant quartet of J.S. Adams, Doug Poplin, P.D. Sexton and Renee Shaw. The opening track, How to Stage Yr Own Death/Lanterns Hung Among Trees is quintessential BLK w/BEAR: thick drones eddying in turbid pools around Poplin’s electronically-altered cello. With their processed samples and slowly drifting harmonies, BLK w/BEAR are particularly adept at creating darkly atmospheric soundtracks that would suit dreams in which machines have somehow acquired human emotions—or humans have lost theirs; which it is isn’t entirely clear in dreams of this sort, and one can imagine that the reality would be even more opaque—but they’re just as suited to the disorienting fissures and discontinuities that have the nagging habit of breaking through the waking world as well.

For BLK w/BEAR, as for others in a small, but nevertheless discernible subset of the DC electronic underground—among whom is Tag Cloud, who collaborates regularly with Adams in the BLK TAG project—the tendency toward a darker, harder-edged electronic sound is congruent with an attitude akin to what André Breton termed “l’humour noir”—the sense of a world grounded in an unjustifiable groundlessness and in which passions are as useless as they are necessary. The music of BLK w/BEAR and of Tag Cloud may sound like it was contrived as the response to an indifferent and senseless universe, but it shows that even under those circumstances a chilly beauty is still possible, and indeed desirable.

Daniel Barbiero


AMN Picks of the Week: Dødsmaskin / Mayuko Hino / Max Corbacho / Warren Schoenbright / Visions & Phurpa

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Dødsmaskin – Ingenting (2015)
Mayuko Hino – Lunisolar (2018)
Max Corbacho – Nocturnes II (2018)
Warren Schoenbright – Excavations (2018)
Visions & Phurpa – Monad (2018)

William Parker to Release 3CD Set

English: Photography of William Parker at Jazz...

Source: William Parker.

Voices Fall From The Sky is an expansive 3 CD Box Set (and download) comprising three distinct and complementary albums whose focus is on the voice: the singers, 17 of whom are featured herein -&- the songs, all composed by William Parker. Half of the work presented here are brand new recordings made in 2017/18 and half are Parker-curated selections of previously released material, much of which has been unavailable for far too long.

Album/CD 1, also entitled Voices Fall From The Sky, features all-new work predominately recorded and mixed in December 2017 and January 2018, with an opening invocation from the earlier release, Long Hidden. The featured singers here are: Timna Comedi • Morley Shanti Kamen • Amirtha Kidambi • Kyoko Kitamura • Bernardo Palombo • Omar Payano • Jean Carla Rodea • Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez • Fay Victor • Andrea Wolper. Accompanists include: Karen Borca • Angelo Branford • Rob Brown • Gerald Cleaver • Jean Cook • Jason Kao Hwang • Masahiko Kono • William Parker • Dave Sewelson • Heru Shabaka-Ra • Steve Swell • Dario Acosta Teich • Eri Yamamoto

Album/CD 2, Songs, is comprised of duets (the one exception again being the lead track), and features three singers with whom Parker has had decades-long creative relationships with. Vintage recordings with Ellen Christi and Lisa Sokolov from the early 1990s which have been unavailable for far too long, are here re-sequenced / re-contextualized together with more recent work with Leena Conquest, plus a piece each feat. Ernie Odoom and Mola Sylla. Accompanists: Yuko Fujiyama • Cooper-Moore • William Parker • Eri Yamamoto.

Album/CD 3, Essence, focuses on the voice within large ensemble, and features selections from previously released albums together with a new suite / recording entitled The Blinking of the Ear, performed by mezzo-soprano opera singer AnnMarie Sandy. The previously released work is here presented in special edits from longer-form works and features the singers Ernie Odoom, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay and Leena Conquest. Accompaniment is by four very different versions of the William Parker Orchestra, and his Double Quartet. The one exception here is the brand new suite, which features Eri Yamamoto on piano and Leonid Galaganov on drums, although how they and AnnMarie Sandy fill the silence is practically orchestral.

Journey into Central Florida’s Experimental Music Scene

Source: Orlando Sentinel.

Existing in a nebulous state that crosses all categorical boundaries, what is experimental is hard to define, but Jeremy Adams gives it a try. “Experimental music and avant-garde music can really be summarized as the research and development branch of music,” said Adams of local duo Exponential Decay. “If you look at the music we’re hearing now on the radio, they’re utilizing techniques experimental composers pioneered 20 and 30 years ago.”