AMN Reviews: Fred Frith, Sudhu Tewari, Cenk Ergün – Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down (CARRIER054)

LMULMD_digital_cover

Fred Frith is a pioneer of the extended electric guitar. Take a glance at his discography of over four hundred titles and it becomes clear that Frith has successfully inserted himself into an incredibly diverse number of contemporary sound worlds. From bands like Henry Cow, Skeleton Crew and Massacre to improvising with the likes of John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, and Evan Parker to his compositions for electric guitar quartet, the Ensemble Modern, the Arditti Quartet and so much more! 

One of Frith’s many collaborations has been with Sudhu Tewari in the duo Normal. Tewari is a sound artist focused on audio electronics, interactive installations, invented musical instruments and sound sculptures that utilize whatever materials are on hand. They recently presented and discussed a number of their invented instruments at the Center for New Music in San Francisco.

“Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a new release from Fred Frith, Sudhu Tewari and Cenk Ergün. The material for this album was recorded about ten years ago as an improvisation with Frith on guitar, Tewari playing recuperated junk and electronics and Ergün on electronics.  However, this is not an album of a group improvisation. “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a long form work that uses the original improvised studio material as building blocks for an entirely new piece.

Cenk Ergün is a Turkish American composer/improviser currently based in Berlin. Ergün has written a wide range of acoustic and electronic works. A wonderful album of two of Ergün’s compositions for string quartet performed by the JACK Quartet was released earlier this year. During the lock down Ergün revisited the ten year old session and then went to work. He created a sound library of various samples from the original trio session. The samples range from a second to several minutes. Samples from the library may be heard in their raw form or heavily processed. Ergün used this library to very carefully assemble “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down”, which combines elements of rock, noise, improvisation, electronic processing and digital studio composition.

Street Piano_photo by Carly McLane

While “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” has been divided into seven tracks it really is a continuous forty-four-minute piece. I think it is best to listen to it as a single listening experience. The piece has a mesmerizing almost dream like quality to it.  It’s sounds move from the chaotic and noisy to the lyrical and harmonic, often drifting between multiple textures. There are sections that focus on developing very specific elements from the original session.  For example, the title track is all Frith reassembled by Ergün layering different moments from the original studio session. “Stay Tuned“ features Tewari’s mallet work on his “street piano” accompanied by birds and the occasional passing car interrupted by bursts from the studio session.  The piece ends with “Dem” which focus’s on the final sounds Frith made in the original session. The gentle de-tuned arpeggios from Frith’s guitar unfold at a glacial pace into long sustained chords that slowly transform back into their original form.

“Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a wonderful listen! It successfully combines so many different sonic elements that it is likely to appeal to a very broad range of creative music listeners. Treat your ears and give it a listen.

Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara

AMN Reviews: Maurizio Bianchi – Untitled 1980 / Untitled 2013 [imprec414]

414-bianchi.webjpgMilanese-born sound artist Maurizio Bianchi has been making challenging, noise-inflected work since the late 1970s. Describing himself as a non-musician, he created proto-industrial musique concrète collages and sound manipulations in a series of cassette releases issued between 1979 and 1983, when he suddenly stopped making music in the wake of a religious conversion. After a fourteen year hiatus he began again in 1998 and is once again creating sound art, sometimes by revisiting and reworking early material as he does on this recording.

The first two tracks, two untitled works of approximately seventeen and eighteen minutes each, are reissued from a cassette originally released in Japan in 1980. Both were created on a KORG MS20, a semi-modular monophonic synthesizer. Untitled A 1980 is a pulsing, industrially-tincted work containing apparently randomly placed pitches and glissandi whose tones sound as if received through radio static. Untitled B 1980 is built around an oscillating buzz that seems something like the product of the chance encounter of a jaw harp and a ring modulator on a mixing table. The remaining four tracks are reworkings of the 1980 recordings, done in 2013.

The juxtaposition of the originals with these recastings is a revealing testament to Bianchi’s ongoing commitment to working with sound, his periodic withdrawals from music notwithstanding. To the extent that he takes his own work as source material, the new pieces represent a kind of self-commentary embedded in a peculiarly reflexive form of musique concrète. As such, these new works manage to retain the salient features of the originals while rephrasing them in a more contemporary electronic vocabulary deriving primarily from drone. The anti-melodies of Untitled A 1980, for example, are recognizable under the manipulations Bianchi subjects them to in two of the new compositions. But even when the source recordings are obscured, something of a family resemblance between old and new can be perceived through the noise.

http://www.importantrecords.com/

Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words – Lost In Reflections
Swedish underground has been spitting some of the most un-subduable sonic creatures in recent years, and it has been doing that in a way that is both eclectic and revealing a sense of union, some sort of “swedishdom”. Even if they differ purely in terms of sound, there is a common approach when it comes to aesthetics and overall intuition towards music. From warm, floating drones to the most vicious no-fi punk rock, from DIY psychedelic to the most tortured and haunted harsh noise projects, Sweden has been spreading all its sonic diseases with no remorse.

Cave – Psychic Psummer
With Psychic Psummer Chicago’s Cave make a very buoyant, colourful, groovy & memorable mixture of : Krautrock loopy-ness, funky bass lines, jazzed & warming synth & organ lines, and the odd nudge of playful punk via a twist of new wave spark.

Werewolf Jerusalem – Nang Nak
Nang Nak find’s Richard Ramirez Werewolf Jerusalem project offering up three slices of rewarding, shifting textured static noise investigations & harsh wall noise scapes. With the third track being a collaboration between Ramirez & HWN project White Plague which features Sam Stoxen & Angie Ridgeway.

Pillowdiver – Sleeping Pills
Sleeping Pills offers up nine wonderfullly focused & often emotional felt guitar based tracks of: post-rock ambience, emotive blues tinged guitar scapes & harmonic yet melancholy tinged drifts. This is the first release from this German based project that centres around guitarist & mood-maker René Margraff.

Peter J Woods – Fairweather Mask
Fairweather Mask is a pained, violence streaked, often grimly atmospheric & brooding mix of: power electronics, noise matter, industrial seeth & drift, unsettled slo-mo string swoons & edgy cinematics that take in keyboard brooding, grey ambience drift.

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Wolf Eyes’ Always Wrong Reviewed

Pitchfork reviews this relatively new release.

Wolf Eyes long ago internalized buzzing static, piercing screams, and crashing cacophony– basic elements as essential to the band’s vocabulary as finger picking is to John Fahey‘s, or violin drone is to Tony Conrad‘s. In fact, the most impressive thing about the band at this point in their career is how instantly identifiable their unruly noise is. Reference points remain, such as the industrial bombast of Throbbing Gristle, the gothic dirge of Swans, and the sheer extremity of Whitehouse. But Wolf Eyes now speak their own language exclusively.

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