Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ben Bennett/John Collins McCormick-Pluperfect; eh? Records #87, 2016

Second up for review from the recently received eh? Records batch, Pluperfect, and Disaster Amnesiac will warn: be careful if you listen to it early in the morning in your car. This is what I did, and the opening high pitched scrawls from Bennett and Collins McCormick gave me a pretty hardcore ear blast to start an AM commute. Being a fan of Noise and experimental forms, even as I'm waking up, not like it was a bad thing to have happened, but....most definitely a shock!
Once over all that, and after repeated listening, I have found Pluperfect to be a fascinating trip into the unique sound worlds of Ben Bennett and John Collins McCormick, one that seems to unfold at a pace totally under the control of these two musicians. The method seems to something like this: smaller, quieter themes are brought forth from various sound sources, then expanded upon in rhythmic form, then folded up and back into silence, from which a new theme emerges. What Disaster Amnesiac has enjoyed immensely as I've listened is the duration of those second aspects; Bennett and Collins McCormick do admirable jobs of controlling the pace of these various emerging themes. This pacing is admirable and deeply moving.
From a more technical point, the way in which John embeds laptop electronics within the overall sound field is really cool; often times it seems as though laptop generated sound starts to trump acoustic instrumentation, but this does not happen on Pluperfect. Disaster Amnesiac has mentioned how incredible Ben's stick control is, and it's utilized herein. Some of my favorite moments when listening to the disc have featured what Bennett drumming on what I believe to be a type of barrel drum, seen at Berkeley Arts Festival a year or two back. Pluperfect's two tracks, More than Perfect and Hadn't, clocking in at about an hour's length, provide these and obviously many more experimental sounds. I only wished that I'd been there at the recording, listening as their vibes bounced off of the walls of Marlboro College's Regal Hall!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Daniel Wyche-Our Severed Sleep; eh? Records #86; 2016

There Disaster Amnesiac was a few weeks back, lamenting the fact that I'd seemingly been dropped from the Public Eyesore/eh? mailing list, and along came a mailer with a batch of new releases from Bryan Day's prolific label. If Bryan had decided to pass on the potential Disaster Amnesiac review treatment, I would not blame him: I've reviewed probably only half of the discs that he's sent to me. That said, ANYTHING that's on Public Eyesore/eh? is worth multiple listens. Mr. Day knows what's up re: experimental and improvised musical forms.
The first of this most recent batch that I've had the pleasure of delving into is Daniel Wyche's Our Severed Sleep. Comprised of two almost twenty minute apiece tracks, Sleep covers all kinds of musical ground as Wyche on guitar and Ryan Packard on drums blast, plow, scrape and just really fucking play. Modern Electronic Music, Free Jazz, Doom Metal, Disaster Amnesiac has heard them all on this disc as I've listened, and much more to boot. Especially cool are the ways in which Wyche sets up these incredible sound ballasts, comprised of long, minimal feedback tones, upon which Packard displays his tremendous chops and musicality. Ryan can seriously play his drums and cymbals! A favorite example of this action occurs late in the first piece, I Give My Language To More than History, in which there's this slow-motion, almost Bill Ward playing. Yes, HEAVY!
The guitar playing of Wyche is inventive and creative as well, and his talent for composition is amply evident on William's Song, with its patient pacing and dramatic results of such. Disaster Amnesiac has also really been digging his opening riff on the first piece, a minutes-long electronic squall, which is delicious in its noisy blasting.
Our Severed Sleep features a solid amalgamation of sounds and influences, all expertly entwined into a very enjoyable forty minute head cleaner of a disc.  Reconnect, wake up, and listen!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sparkle In Grey-Brahim Izdag; Old Bicycle Records, 2016

So apparently this disc is the last release from Old Bicycle Records, and Disaster Amnesiac has been mulling on just how to review it for several months now. There's been a digital copy floating around in my iTunes mix for some time, and over the weekend a hard copy, beautiful in its Sharpie Primitive artwork, landed in my snail mail box, direct from Italy. The internal debate started after repeated listens, during which the question would arise: "how can I do justice to such cool, complex music without sounding like a boring professor or a jaded music writer". Western problems, right? After a few days, and a few more spins, though, Disaster Amnesiac just has to take a shot.
Brahim Izdag revolves around three lengthy pieces, Iurop Is A Madness, Gobbastan, and the title piece. The first paces itself at a Dub stride, with really cool recitation of a Linton Kwesi Johnson piece. The language sounds to me as if it's Arabic, but I could be wrong. Really strong drumming from Simon Riva on this one; his lock with bassist Cristiano Lupo allows for some really cool violin and guitar from Franz Krostopovic and Alberto Carozzi, respectively. Second on the list, Gobbastan, runs from electronic atmospherics to further Dub feel, with sweet percussion on what sound like djembe and shakers. Both of these pieces are played in modes that give the listener a somewhat somber, reflective feel. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened, I've wondered if they're at all reflections of Europe as it appears to an outsider these days: struggling with turmoil of changing demographics and shifting mores, along with the seemingly endless financial crises. If so, this music most definitely would provide mental comfort to those that may be suffering. Last of the multiple-part pieces on Izdag, its eponymous piece fuses Eastern modes with more whip tight drumming and cutting solo guitar tones before going into further atmospheric zones, driven more by violin and nice electronic coloring from Matteo Uggeri.
Bracketing the longer songs, we find disc opener Samba Lombarda, with its snappy grooves and hopeful, happy feel (brace yourselves, people). It is followed by an astute update of the Clash's White Riot, changed by Sparkle In Grey to Grey Riot and given an Irish jig feel, and then the haunting Tripoli, with its somber horns and violin lines being accosted by machine gun fire. Post Classical/Post Free Jazz Chamber interactions are featured on Song For Clair Patterson, and finally, Minka Minka, dances proudly with its Old Mediterranean/Slavic cadence. Sly and the Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On is listed, but it seems to only last for four seconds of absolute silence. Make of that what you will!
Along with the physical copy of Brahim Izdag, Old Bicycle Records sent a handful of tape releases. Disaster Amnesiac hopes to carve out time to listen to and review these as well. I suspect that Brahim Izdag will be joining me on my commutes in the interim. Sparkle In Grey are producing some really compelling music. Go west, guys, and please hit California when you do.