From time to time, AMN writer Mike Eisenberg revisits older albums that he has not listened to in a while and provides comments.
Wittwulf Y Malik/Ge-Suk Yeo – “White Room” (2005)
This is a live (and somewhat improvised) encounter between Malik (cello, electronics) and Yeo (voice). They credit their performance space (Galerie des Künstlerhauses Bergedorf) as being integral to the sound of this recording because of its extremely resonant acoustics.
I remember enjoying this back in 2005 so decided to give it another spin and yeah, still great! As expected, it has a very live sound…the dynamics of the cello sound awesome in this space, and there are also copious amounts of looping and lots of extended bowing and slapping techniques. Over this, Yeo (quite disturbingly actually) adds her soprano, also utilizing extended vocal techniques, there is a lot of very bizarre hissing going on.
The general mood was one of a very odd, imagined temple of sorts, with the sounds setting the stage for some dark, eastern tinged magic about to come down. Sacred…in a most unhinged way. The 45-minute journey was fascinating. I would put this in the highly experimental improvised art music pile, and for a late-night excursion to “off the map” realms, this fits the bill perfectly.
Tod Dockstader – “Apocalypse” (1993)
Some like to call this music electro/acoustic, or musique concret, or electronische musik, or tape music, or computer music, or field recordings, or…my preferred descriptor, acousmatic music…but whatever you want to call it, this is just simply one of the most groundbreaking, forward-thinking, head expanding sonic artifacts ever!
When I think Dockstader, I will always put him on the same level as the second generation Ina GRM composers (Pierre Henry, Francois Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Bernard Parmegiani, Beatriz Ferreyra, Francis Dhomont, etc.) I don’t know if being the only American in that group matters, but I will always mention his name in that context. “Apocalypse” issued in 1993 has some of his early tape splicing works (using a razor blade and tape) where he organizes sound events into stark, vivid cinéma pour l’oreille (cinema for the ears). The magnitude of Dockstader’s talent and imagination should never be underestimated and, on this release, he is kind enough to give the active, careful listener a mind-journey that he/she will not soon forget. I can’t recommend anything by him highly enough, but this is as good a place to start as any.
Nekropsi – “Mi Kubbesi” (1996)
Nice to hear this one again. Nekropsi was (still is?) a Turkish band who, at least at the time of this first release was working a hybrid of prog/math/metal/space/ethnic, pretty much all in equal amounts. The band is two guitarists, a bass player, and a drummer, and all of them display some pretty fine technical chops, not to mention playing their collective asses off! I like the way they take a small germ of an idea, maybe a riff here or there and develop it into a fully fleshed-out song. No shying away from some extended space buildups…and when they do pull out the stops, going into full-out metal or math-prog mode, their playing really shines. A definite marvel to listen to…all of them seem to be organically melded to their respective instruments cuz we are talking about surgical precision here leaving no room for useless things…you know…like solos. Rehearsal intensive and original for its time that still holds up now…recommended.