AMN Reviews: Mike Bullock – Fermented…Earth/A Cat’s Tiger [shadowselves02]

The single nineteen minute track that makes up this second release from double bassist/sound artist Mike Bullock’s Shadowselves label is something of a paradox: a polyphonic soliloquy.

In addition to playing double bass, Bullock creates sounds with synthesizer, voice and the movement of pens and pencils across paper. Bullock favors an elemental approach to the bass, foregrounding the sounds of its raw materials in action, whether in the form of bowed open strings or the contact of the wood of the bow against the strings’ metal surfaces. Similarly, Bullock’s vocalizations emphasize the grain of the voice unencumbered by language, while his synthesizer whooshes, chirps crackles and buzzes around it. From a quiet opening balanced on the point of a pencil moving vigorously on paper the piece broadens out to a gradually accumulating sound world; the sounds are layered sparingly but with enough interactive mass to create movement and a dynamic relationship among parts. This is one of those intimately-scaled recordings that succeeds in putting the listener on close terms with the instruments and objects creating sounds.

As with the previous issue from Shadowselves, this release comes in a very limited edition of fifteen, with each CDR accompanied by a unique, beautifully-crafted porcelain tile handmade by Bullock and his wife Linda.

AMN Reviews: Patrick Farmer – How I Keep Falling into Rivers

Patrick Farmer: How I Keep Falling into Rivers [cnvr27]

Sound artist Patrick Farmer, who has often worked with field recordings, may have a troubled history with bodies of water, but this new release on cassette finds him in the company of a reel-to-reel tape recorder and, presumably, dry.

For these two ten-minute, side-long pieces Farmer performed improvisations on the tape recorder’s motor. Each piece begins rather abruptly after a minute or two of silence, develops into a dense crescendo of grinding, squealing noise, and ends just as abruptly, leaving a coda of another minute or so of silence. Here the medium is the music, in this case the abstract, sonic self-reference of the means of reproduction and playback. It’s hard not to hear this as the mechanical gnashing of teeth by old technologies that stubbornly refuse to be overtaken and forgotten.