Monday, 18 September 2017

Nurse With Wound - Insect & Individual Silenced (1981)

Been listening to a ton of Nurse With Wound this past week or two, and there hasn't been any posted here for ages, so here goes - with the one that Steven Stapleton famously hated so much that he burned the master tapes.  Finally relenting in 2007 on hearing a near-flawless vinyl rip, Stapleton decided that the album, although still a failure by his standards, wasn't half as bad as he remembered, and allowed the vinyl rip (by Kevin Spencer of Robot Records) to become this official reissue.

Listening to it now, especially in context with the three earliest NWW albums that preceded it, and Homotopy To Marie that came after, I certainly don't see a dip in quality with Insect - if anything, it's just a blip on the trajectory by which Stapleton's surrealist editing & mixing craft had been steadily increasing from album to album, which would lead to Homotopy being the first full-on masterpiece that he remains justifiably proud of.  The much freer, anarchic sound of Insect lies in the recording circumstances, as recalled in Stapleton's detailed reminisce in the CD sleevenotes - reproduced here, about halfway down the page, headed "1980: A Year Of Change".  TL;DR: Stapleton, and mates Trevor Reidy and Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell go into a studio for two days to "see what would happen".  Record ensues; Stapleton mortified - until latter-day reappraisal.  So let's listen...

Kicking off with a roar of reverberating feedback, which will reappear sporadically throughout the track's 27 minutes, Alvin's Funeral (The Milk Was Delivered In Black Bottles) is heady, classic early NWW.  Plenty of noise and tape mutilation, voices in different languages, and other barely identifiable clankings and howlings.  Anyone familiar with Part 2 of Bradford Red Light District, Stapleton and William Bennett's experiment in cranking up every reverb setting in the studio to 11, will recognise the source that those roars of feedback have been 'borrowed' from...

The second track, Absent Old Queen Underfoot, was the first to be recorded when the three participants rocked up in the studio to let loose on a reduced drumkit (Reidy), bass amp and jack plugs (Thirlwell) and a crappy guitar (Stapleton).  The result sounds almost like industrial jazz of the most wonderfully inept variety - something to tap your foot to in a jazz club, if you happened to be Jack Nance in Eraserhead.  Lastly, there's the shorter, slightly more recognisably Nurselike Mutilés du Guerre, with more tape-bent squeaking, screaming and the looped voice of Brigitte Fontaine, and the most magnificently surreal ending possible, an arrangement of Ode To Joy for voice and... banjo.  Essential weirdness that deserves full recognition in Stapleton's long, surreal career.
CD reissue cover, 2007
mega / zippy

Friday, 15 September 2017

Hugues Dufourt - Saturne / Surgir (1993 compi, rec. '80 and '85)

As the Cassini spacecraft makes its final descent into Saturn's atmosphere, what better music to celebrate its voyage with?  Well, maybe Holst's Saturn, a classic seven minutes of grand old melancholy in its own right; but I'm going to go for 43 minutes of epic, electronically-inflected orchestral atmospherics courtesy of Dufourt (b. 1943 in Lyon).

One of the co-founders (who included Murail and Grisey) of the French-spectralism-focused Ensemble l’Itinéraire, Dufourt wrote Saturne for them in 1978-9.  It was also the time of the launch of his own Instrumental Research and Sound Synthesis Group (CRISS), which gives a clue to the content of this masterpiece.  Eerie orchestral swells and bell-like percussion are swathed in gaseous synthesiser swishes from the beginning, evoking the descent through Saturn's outer atmosphere to the unknown world below.  The percussion gets periodically more thunderous, there's judicious use of a staccato electric guitar, and the developing synth tones blend in perfectly with the rising and falling orchestral swells.  This sustained atmosphere is wonderfully evocative on headphones in a dark room - highly recommended.

Saturne is supported on this CD by Surgir (1985), a half-hour orchestral work in a similar vein, but without the synthesisers and guitar.  It's worth a listen, but it's the main work that I keep going back to with all its great swirling electronics.
Original LP cover for Saturne, 1980
 mega / zippy

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Egborto Gismonti & Academia De Danças - Sanfona (1981)

Fancy a concept album about a travelogue through the festivals and folk dances of Brazil?   How about two, one with a full band, and one completely solo, both exquisitely performed and achingly melodic in their bittersweet evocations of life and celebration?  Stop right here then - Sanfona, named for a Brazilian relative of the accordion and also intended to metaphorically symbolise the sheer breadth of Brazilian popular culture down the ages, sits high up in Egberto Gismonti's back catalogue as a stunning example of a master craftsman at the peak of his evocative powers.

The first disc of Sanfona, featuring Gismonti supported by a three-piece version of his Academia De Danças band, takes us through the birth and refinement of the samba, forró and seresta musical and rhythmic forms, whilst giving the musicians plenty of space to stretch out and make Gismonti's wonderful compositions sparkle with life.

The second disc is Gismonti entirely alone and recorded live, inevitably spotlighting his stunning guitar technique, especially on the 16-minute De Repente.  After this comes Vale de Eco, an atmospheric performance on Indian organ, before the last of the album's original four sides turns inward for some truly gorgeous music.  12 de Fevereiro was written to commemorate the birth of Gismonti's first daughter, and Carta de Amor a few weeks later - both feature achingly beautiful, keening vocals and close the album on a perfectly intimate high note.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy

Previously posted at SGTG: Circense

Monday, 11 September 2017

Tristan Murail - Gondwana, Désintégrations, Time and Again (1989 compi, rec. '80/'86'/87)

Tristan Murail (b. 1947 in Le Havre) occupies the same upper echelons of French spectralism as Gérard Grisey, meaning that these three works from the 80s are all built on the microscopic properties of sound, subsequently blown back up into unexpected shapes to create otherwordly, spectacular pieces of music.

In the purely orchestral Gondwana (1980), the gradual drift of the ancient supercontinent is represented by small textural elements of the music being reconfigured and arranged into new, more striking layers.  If this wasn't spectacular enough, the other two works were even more fascinating for me.  Time And Again (1986) adds a Yamaha DX7 synth to the orchestra, and again the musical textures and themes are transformed and mutated all over the place.

Désingtégrations (1982-3) is the definite highlight of this disc IMO, with a smaller ensemble playing against tapes generated by computer at IRCAM.  Original tones and timbres from the instruments were fed into the computer and analysed to the smallest detail, with the resultant tapes meshing eerily with the ensemble and painting the tone colours with a wonderfully weird, alien luminosity.  I'm reminded occasionally of Vangelis circa Invisible Connections.  Download this one to enjoy the two orchestral works of course, but Désingtégrations is utterly unmissable.

mega / zippy

Friday, 8 September 2017

Rune Lindblad - Objekt 2: Electronic & Concrete Music 1962-1988 (1998 compi)

As promised, more Rune Lindblad - covering a wider timespan this time, making for an even more varied and interesting collection.  We pick up just after the Death Of The Moon compilation left off, with Objekt 2 (the title track) offering some lo-fi string-sawing from 1962, then there's only one further piece from that decade, the choppy, echoing voice experiments of Plasibenpius (1968-9).

Four pieces from the 70s follow, where Lindblad appears to have taken a darker, more unsettling turn.  The burbling and whirring electronics of Hälften Av Någonting are periodically interrupted by a disturbing tape recording - possibly from a horror film, but who knows?  As the Swedish title seems to suggest, it's like we're only getting 'half of something'.  Frage, from 1972, and Maskinlandskap, 1975, both suggest early Cabaret Voltaire or Throbbing Gristle - the latter title in English is, appropriately, Machine Landscape; and Tora (1972-3), given Wednesday's sad news, is now sounding rather poignant to my ears - it could've jumped in straight from the recording sessions for Can's Aumgn.

We then jump forward a decade for the last three tracks, where Lindblad seems to have got more into synths.  The tech might be more modern, but the recording is still slightly on the lo-fi side, making Innan Konsert, the longest piece here at 12 mins, sound like a bedroom synth aritiste of the very highest calibre, taking their Berlin-school influences somewhere unique.  Lagun I Uppror (lagoon in revolt) (1987) is as supremely bizarre as its title.  A sequencer pulse takes on some wild percussion rhythms and synth squeals in ever-escalating combat, before finally calling a truce to the unhinged frenzy right at the end.  Lastly, Dimstrak (1987-88) is perhaps the oddest piece of all - it's practically a sweet little new-agey folk song featuring flute-like synth accompanied by acoustic guitar.  The guitar plays the final melody just after the three-minute mark, wrapping up this fascinating collection in possibly the most weird and wonderful way possible.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Can - Soundtracks (1970)

R.I.P. Holger Czukay, 24 March 1938 - Sept 2017

Danke schoen, Holger, for all your great music; for a full life packed with phenomenal, metronomic bass playing, pioneering short wave radio and tape work, great production, inspired collaborations, and so much more.  Sorry that I spent the second half of the 90s thinking your surname was pronounced Kazooki - I'd just never heard anyone say it, and had much less access to information back then.  Speaking of which, I still remember the first ever webpage I searched for when my high school got its first internet-ready PC: nice to see it's still available 20 years later.

Folks, it's time to celebrate the music of yet another true pioneer who has sadly left us.  For starters, may I recommend turning up Mother Sky as loud as possible.  If you don't have access to it, grab it right here.

mega / zippy

Previously posted at SGTG: Canaxis and Monster Movie

Monday, 4 September 2017

Asmus Tietchens - Biotop (1981)

By request, here's Asmus Tietchens' first album for Sky records - a perfectly timed request, as I'd been pondering the recent lack of classic German electronica on this blog and trying to figure out what would be a good one to go for.  Between '81 and '83, Tietchens would make a quartet of albums to represent what he called his 'Zeitzeichen' (time-signal) phase, of "rhythmic-harmonic set pieces and gaudy records sleeves".  Previously posted at SGTG are the third one, In Die Nacht, and the fourth, Litia, so that just leaves Spät-Europa to post someday.  

Gaahh, bloody Spät-Europa... it was the first of all of the four that I bought, but every time I try to give its gleefully obnoxious 20 tracks an airing it still just ends up annoying the crap out of me.  Which probably means I do actually like it, in much the way that Tietchens may have intended.  But anyway, for now, here's the somewhat more accessible 16 tracks of Biotop.  Tietchens certainly gave his Zeitzeichen project a memorable curtain-raiser with In Die Zukunft, sounding like the theme to a suitably futuristic sci-fi movie, especially in its wonderful, propulsive second half.  

From there in, the electro-weirdness just gets dialed up to the max, sounding like a hyper-caffeinated version of Cluster's largely energy-deficient release from the same year.  The garish album cover couldn't be more perfect for the music it contains, and fluent German speakers (i.e. not me) will probably get the most out of what seems to be an overriding concept of mocking contemporary consumer society, in the punning track titles and the satirical vocals on Moderne Arroganz, the lyrics of which are apparently a list of different types of insurance. 

Biotop does eventually wind down to offer a bit of respite in the gorgeous, melodic penultimate track Träumchen Am Fenster, before ending on the beatless title track.  Biotop, the track, points both backwards to Tietchens' first (pre-Sky) LP Nachtstucke and forwards to the more avant-garde stuff to come.  As he says (in German) in the final moments, which formed a lock-groove on the original LP, "Let's see how things go".

mega / zippy

Friday, 1 September 2017

Nils Frahm - The Bells (2009)

Looking for the ideal wind-down for this first September weekend?  May I suggest 40 minutes of exquisite solo piano, courtesy of pianist/composer/producer Nils Frahm, born 1982 in Hamburg.  In November 2008, Frahm and composer friend Peter Broderick rented a Berlin church for two nights, capturing over five hours of Frahm's improvisations with Broderick providing idiosyncratic musical direction (at one point lying down on the piano strings).  The best of these sessions was then trimmed down to album length.

The end result clearly displays Frahm's talent for melody and harmony, and a Jarrett-esque knack for pulling instant classics out of thin air.  But even more than that, The Bells is primarily an album about exploiting the resonances of the piano and the ambient atmosphere of the church to their fullest extent.  It's certainly no mellow, Harold Budd-like chillout experience, although these moments are evident - but if you were to use this album for relaxation you'll frequently find the mood punctured by several instances of Frahm letting rip at full power, like someone taking a snooze on a churchyard bench only to be jolted awake by pealing bells.

Inspired by the recording venue, Frahm seems to enjoy these bell-like piano tones ringing through the reverberating space as majestically as possible.  I'm reminded more than once of Erik Satie's Ogives, especially a recent ECM New Series rendering by Sarah Rothenberg (the album centered around Feldman's Rothko Chapel; may post it at some point).  Stirring, invigorating stuff.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Rune Lindblad - Death Of The Moon: Electronic & Concrete Music 1953-1960 (1997 compi)

Pioneering electronic/electroacoustic/concrete works from a composer who refused to see any boundaries between these kind of tags - Gothenburg-born Rune Lindblad (1923-1991).  His first concert in 1957 saw audience members demanding refunds and critics panning the event as 'pure torture' - just the sort of thing that gets people like me mashing the 'Buy It Now' button six decades later to get hold of this compilation CD (despite its atrocious cover art - couldn't Pogus Productions have used another of Lindblad's nice woodcuts, or even the same one they had access to for the 1989 LP shown below?).

Far from sounding tortuous though, the recorded evidence on this collection is engaging stuff throughout, starting with the tape cut-ups of a social gathering mashed together with radio broadcasts, short wave noise and tape squelches of Party (1953).  Månens Död (Death Of The Moon) (1954-55) is subtler still, consisting of restrained, mournful-sounding electronics and ritualistic percussion.

Given the vintage of this material, vast cloudbanks of tape hiss are par for the course, but this just enhances the charm and un-academic accessibility.  The 'Fragment' pieces are particularly lo-fi, providing yet another uncanny missing link between '68 AMM, '71 Kluster and '75 Throbbing Gristle - apart from the almost prettily melodic mid-section of Fragment 1, and of course the fact that all three Fragments date back to 1955-56.  Lindblad's style was beginning to mature sonically and texturally by the time of Nocturne (1958), the highlight of this collection for me; and don't miss the closing Optica (1959-1960), created using damaged 16mm film and sounding like computer music way ahead of its time.  Coming soon - the other Lindblad compilation that I have, spanning the years 1962-1988.
Cover art for 'Death Of The Moon and Other Early Works' LP, 1989
mega / zippy

Monday, 28 August 2017

John Abercrombie & Ralph Towner - Sargasso Sea/Five Years Later (1976/1982)

In memoriam John Abercrombie, 16 Dec 1944 - 22 Aug 2017

Oh well, I did say on Friday that normal service would be resumed on Monday for this blog... and if normal service now means bidding sad farewells to artists whose music has meant so much to me, then so be it.  John Laird Abercrombie was born in Port Chester, NY to Scottish immigrants, and after a lifetime crafting an instantly identifiable guitar signature, has passed at age 72.  Having neglected to pick up his latest album at the beginning of this year due to other musical obsessions, I'm definitely going to do so now, but for today here's my two favourites of Abercrombie's career, both in the company of ECM labelmate Ralph Towner.  Previously posted at SGTG: the completely solo Characters, and Jack DeJohnette's Pictures.

Sargasso Sea was recorded in May 1976, and proved a genius pairing of two of ECM's rising stars right from the start.  Ralph Towner's silky 12-string overlaid with Abercrombie's liquid electric lead makes for a stunning album opener, with the eight minutes of Fable scoping out the breadth of their melodic talents and virtuoso skill, as would the title track and the explosive Elbow Room.  Elsewhere, we get the sublime sound of both guitarists going acoustic in a melding of their individual styles, and even some occasional piano from Towner, most notably in the gorgeous closer Parasol.
Deciding to repeat this memorable duo pairing five years later, Abercrombie and Towner already had their album title right there, and produced an even more ambitious effort, with a couple of tracks here hovering around the ten-minute mark.  One of these is the atmospheric, improvisatory opener Late Night Passenger, with Abercrombie's volume swells and percussive echoes contrasting with Towner's prepared-guitar buzzing.  The liquid lead versus shimmering 12-string magic formula returns in Isla and the cavernous reverberations of Microtheme.  The following track, the solemn Caminata, gives further proof that Abercrombie, Towner and Manfred Eicher were turning up the focus on ambience this time around, letting the acoustic fill the space, always in support - never dominating - of these two massive talents.  The other lengthy improv, the exciting race for transcendence that is Bumabia, underlines this too.

RIP John, and thanks for all the wonderful music.

SS mega / SS zippy
5YL mega / 5YL zippy

Friday, 25 August 2017

Ana-Maria Avram / Iancu Dumitrescu - Remote Pulsar, Movemur, Incantatio etc (2003)

One more post for now highlighting the music of Ana-Maria Avram, who passed away on 1 August aged 55.  Incantatio (2003) is 20 minutes of thrilling orchestral chaos, led by viola and percussion.  Influences of Xenakis and Ligeti are detectable, but Ana-Maria's compositional signature was very much her own - having grown up under the Ceaușescu regime, her approach to her art was always that as many rules should be broken as possible.

The other Avram work on this release, Quinconce (2003) continues the viola theme (as does a re-recording of a 1977 Dumitrescu piece for solo viola earlier in the disc), making this album very much a spotlight on Hyperion Ensemble member Cornelia Petroiu.  In Quinconce, Petroiu's performance is set against Avram's computer manipulations of the sounds, with results that took the Avram/Dumitrescu explorations into the boundaries of spectralist music to yet another new level.

Iancu Dumitrescu is represented on this release mainly by the latest progress in his own computer-music, refining this otherworldy avenue of his soundworld with Remote Pulsar and one of my favourite of his works in this vein, Numerologie Secrète.  Sandwiched in between these is the aforementioned solo viola piece Movemur III.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Ana-Maria Avram / Iancu Dumitrescu - Orbit Of Eternal Grace (1999)

In tribute to the late Ana-Maria Avram, here's a couple of her great orchestral works.  Will probably post another Edition Modern disc on Friday that also highlights her unique style, then resume normal service next week - posting these two composers' unique music as-and-when.  The ones I've already posted are all listed in yesterday's post.

Orbit Of Eternal Grace (1998) is a stunning evocation of the cosmos, with dizzying swirls from the string orchestra and rumbling percussion from Chris Cutler providing the backdrop for Tim Hodgkinson's unearthly solo part on bass clarinet.  Ascent (1999) for chamber orchestra occupies similar terrain on a smaller scale.

Afterwards, there's three pieces by Iancu - two versions of Eon - Dans Un Desordre Absolu, one computer composed, and the other filled out by ensemble and live electronics - and Temps Condenses, again with the mutant, granular electronic sounds being punctuated by percussive thunder and the ensemble soloists.

So grateful to both of these composers right now for all their unique music that I've heard so far, and for the dozen or so albums that I've still to pick up.  So sad that we won't hear any more from Ana-Maria, now that she's gone while still just in her fifties, and gutted for Iancu.  Just wanted to state that I'm sharing these albums so that as many people as possible can discover them, and then hopefully go out and get hold of few of them - this is music that I believe deserves a much bigger audience than it has.  For anyone looking to purchase Edition Modern CDs, I'd recommend buying from ReR Megacorp.

mega / zippy

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Ana-Maria Avram, 1961-2017 - R.I.P.

Only just found out that Romanian composer Ana-Maria Avram passed away at the beginning of this month, aged 55. :(  Information about the cause of her death doesn't seem to have been published as yet.

Piece from The Wire on Ana-Maria's passing here.  Another here.

conducting in 2011
I've only been listening to her music for a couple of years, along with that of her husband Iancu Dumitrescu (both pictured below), but it's been life-changing - new extremes in modern classical music that have really broadened my listening horizons.  RIP Ana-Maria, and condolences to Iancu - I believe they'd been together since the late 80s/early 90s.

More to come soon from Ana-Maria and Iancu on this blog - for now, already posted are:

ED.MN.1001 - Medium/Cogito (just Iancu's music)
ED.MN.1002 - Au Dela De Movemur
ED.MN.1003 - Pierres Sacreés (just Iancu's music)
ED.MN.1004 - Musique de Paroles
ED.MN.1008 - Five Pieces
ED.MN.1011 - Musique Action '98
ED.MN.1019 - In Tokyo

Monday, 21 August 2017

Simeon ten Holt - Canto Ostinato (2005 recording, rel. 2012)

Minimalist piano epic Canto Ostinato is the signature work by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012), and since its 1979 premiere has become a familiar staple of not just concert halls in the Netherlands, but a variety of public spaces including parks, shopping centres and railway stations.  There's also been several recordings released, of which this was the first one I've picked up as it was touted as a good all-rounder (it's also dirt cheap, as with everything on the Brilliant Classics label, and sounds great - a real rival to Naxos worth exploring. Previously on SGTG - Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel.)

This 2005 recording for four pianos (the most common arrangement; there's also various combinations of pianos, organs, marimbas, harps and synthesizers available) is certainly a good starting point due to its duration - only, yes, only, two and half hours long (although there's even single-CD reductions available) when some recordings can top three or four hours, and live performances can far outstrip that.

So why the variety in length?  Ten Holt wrote the piece in 106 small sections, and intended the players to have as much freedom as they liked to play around with each one before a 'lead player' would indicate an advance to the next.  Most importantly, of course, is how this sounds when you sit down (or indeed, walk, jog, or drive, all of which would also work well) and listen to it.  Philip Glass aficionados will already be familiar with the feeling of when subtly-changing repetitive structures work their hypnotic magic over an extended period, so Canto Ostinato will be right up your street.  Even more than Glass, though, I'd argue that this piece is just so thoroughly accessible and enjoyable that it's likely to become an indispensable part of the musical life of anyone who gives it a go.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy

Download notes:  Links as per the two CDs of this release, for ease of uploading.  What I've done to try and streamline the listening experience is removed the 'Disc 1' and 'Disc 2' from the album names, and renumbered all the tracks from 1-28, so it should all run sequentially (to be extra sure, just chuck everything into one folder before playing).  There was a fade-out and fade-in at the disc break which I've tried to snip out - not entirely successfully, but was as good as I could get it.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Stars Of The Lid - The Tired Sounds Of (2001)

Two hours of modern-classical infused ambient drift at its most magnificent.  Brian McBride & Adam Wiltzie's mature masterwork came out 16 years ago, and had an almost-as-good followup 6 years later; whether they'll record another album together is anyone's guess, but at least they've both been keeping busy since.  Anyway, here's Tired Sounds, arguably the high watermark of both their' careers to date.

With the long, weightless guitar treatments that had become SOTL's stock in trade now fleshed out by judicious strings, Tired Sounds opened up a new and sophisticated landscape straight away with Requiem For Dying Mothers.  Movingly funereal in its first part, defiantly elegiac in its second, this opening piece sets the tone for the rest of the melancholy, sometimes unsettling first hour.  This reaches its darkest depths in the 12-minute middle section of Austin Texas Mental Hospital, with the strings remorselessly sawing away at the patient's psyche, although some respite does seem to come with the gentle organ-like swells of the final part.

The second disc of Tired Sounds is a slightly more relaxing, Eno-esque drift as a whole, but only once you've come through the colder-than-death Mulholland, sounding like its been recorded from within a body chiller in a morgue.  The mellower highlights of this second hour-long trip into inner space definitely include Piano Aquieu, with its Harold Budd-esque piano intro, but the melancholy still persists in huge, endless waves.  For an album that I've previously described to bemused acquaintances as "suffused with death", on digging it out today Tired Sounds does at least still live and breathe (audibly, in its final minutes) with some hopefulness towards its end.  Beyond essential.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Luiz Bonfá - Introspection/The New Face Of Bonfa (1970/72)

Handy twofer of most of Bonfa's early 70s output for RCA - the album between these two, Sanctuary, is harder to come by but I'm keeping a lookout.  The New Face Of Bonfa, from 1970, was an attempt to cross over to a US audience with some success; the string arrangements are occasionally laid on a bit too thick, but Bonfa's phenomenal guitar talent is always front and centre (not least in Africana, my favourite track from this album).  In contrast to Braziliana, Maria Toledo only makes two appearances here as one of the backing vocalists on Macumba and Peixe Bom; all the other tracks are instrumental.
Original Introspection cover art. CD cover at top uses same pic as New Face LP.
And speaking of Bonfa's phenomenal guitar talent - that's the sole focus of the 1972 album Introspection, presented first on this CD reissue.  It's small but perfectly formed - eight tracks in under 27 minutes, and not a second wasted in showcasing Bonfa's sheer melodic and harmonic talent and staggering technique (check out the hovering-UFO evocations of Adventure In Space).  The sole concession here to production effects is the phasing on the opener, which kind of works, but other than that, Introspection is an utterly timeless masterpiece.

mega / zippy

Monday, 14 August 2017

Daniel Teruggi - Syrcus/Sphœra (1993)

Couple of ear-tingling sound voyages for you from Argentine-born Teruggi, who has been based in France since the 70s working and teaching at INA-GRM.  In other words, prepare for some top-flight French avant-garde, courtesy of the SYTER digital processor developed by Jean-François Allouis and heavily utilised by Teruggi.

We start off with 20 minutes of subtly-mutated percussion in the five-part Syrcus, before getting to the 42-minute main event.  Sphoera's four elemental movements, corresponding to air, water, fire then earth, also subdividing into smaller unnamed parts, were written throughout the 1980s and drawn together into this '1993 version' of the full suite.  Right from the hissing, shimmering atmospheres of the 'air' pieces (Eterea), you get what Teruggi's trying to do, and the rest of the work is similarly descriptive.  Interesting that there's some heavily manipulated voice sounds in the 'water' section Aquatica - not sure why, but it seems to work.

Imagine, to just use the first vaguely appropriate name that popped into my head, Jean-Michel Jarre embarking some sort of great 'primordial earth' concept epic - then stripping away virtually all the music, as it simply isn't necessary; the pure sound that remains is more than adequate to carry the narrative by itself.  Astonishing headphone-immersion stuff from start to finish.

mega / zippy

Friday, 11 August 2017

Keith Jarrett - Concerts: Bregenz/München (rec. '81, rel. '82; full CD reiss 2013)

Having concentrated on trio concerts up until now, it's high time I posted some solo Keith Jarrett - winging it by the seat of his pants, grunting and groaning aplenty (to a tolerable level in these '81 shows) on his way to absolute transcendence.  Two concerts, a few days apart - one from Bregenz where Jarrett hits his groove early on, then mellows out before an exploratory section, and a twice-as-long one from Munich that takes us on a more epic journey.

In both cases, Jarrett seems determined to extract every possible drop of sound from the piano, getting in some serious percussive thumps and string plucks towards the end, before restoring calm with the gorgeous encores.  Originally released as a 3LP box in 1982, ECM also provided the option to just buy the single-disc Bregenz concert on its own, which ended up being the only CD version until the whole set was finally reissued four years ago.
original box set cover, 1982 (2013 reissue at top)
Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
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Disc 3 mega / Disc 3 zippy

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - A Meeting By The River (1993)

And an inspired and fruitful meeting it was.  Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Rajasthani master of the Mohan Vina - a modified slide guitar of his own creation, with eight sympathetic drone strings added; and Ry Cooder, the eternal journeyman, on regular slide, recorded these four tracks in a Santa Barbara church - shame they didn't record more.  My only minus point for this record is always that I wish it was twice as long, but what was captured, backed up by Bhatt's regular tabla player Sukhvinder Singh, and Cooder's son Joachim, is superb.  A pair of lengthy, exploratory tracks are followed up by a catchy, upbeat jam and then a gorgeous closing ballad, the only non-original, a Fijian folk song.  One for al fresco listening with a long cool drink.

mega / zippy

Monday, 7 August 2017

Yoko Ono - Fly (1971; new reissue 2017)

Ideal time to do a post of this classic double-album - there's a new reissue doing the rounds, and label Secretly Canadian seem to have done a great job.  Sounds good, has a couple of bonus tracks I hadn't heard before so have kept them in the download (the eerie electronics of The Path are definitely worth hearing) and the CDs come in a hard-card vinyl gatefold replica.  Worth buying, for sure, along with the others that have been reissued.

If this is your first encounter with (arguably) Yoko Ono's greatest album, though, you're in for a real treat.  One album's worth of raw, propulsive avant-rock which at its greatest (the 17 minutes of Mind Train) sounds like a feminine version of Can's Halleluwah, then a side's worth of clattering, echoing collaborations with another Fluxus artist Joe Jones and his 'percussion machines', then rounding off with the 22-minute title track.  The latter might be the most spartan and difficult to love - it's mostly solo voice, until some reversed slide guitar towards the end makes things a bit more interesting, but it's still an utterly unique voice that I could listen to all day.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy

Friday, 4 August 2017

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall 1971

Had I started this blog about twelve years ago, it would've been bursting at the seams with Neil Young albums (if I'd been able to have enough patience with the trickle of dialup available to me at the time to even run a blog!).  So what happened over the last decade, that I virtually stopped listening to an artist who'd been such an all-consuming obsession for me since the mid-90s?  A few things, I suppose - tastes change over the years; and perhaps mainly that Young hasn't produced an album that's excited me for over 20 years (with the honourable exception of Le Noise).

But that's quite enough of a preamble - found this in a pile of dust-gathering CDs last week, and decided it was still wonderful, and needed to be posted here.  Recorded at a homecoming gig in Toronto in January 1971, just as Neil Young was becoming a solo superstar, and mooted for release soon after as a double-live album, Massey Hall in  the end wouldn't see an official release until 2007, but became a justifiably popular bootleg in between.

Just imagine how an official live album, hot on the heels of After The Goldrush, could've altered the dynamic of Young's discography - a handful of these songs would've become well-known favourites, rather than clandestine rarities, and Harvest might've suffered by comparison.  All of the latter album's songs sound great here, IMO better than the overblown orchestrated versions - but personal preferences aside, as a whole this is a phenomenal live set, performed solely by a hugely talented 26 year old with the audience in the palm of his hand.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fausto Romitelli (played by Ictus ensemble) - Professor Bad Trip (2004)

Italian composer Fausto Romitelli managed to stake out a truly unique and disorienting soundworld in his unfortunately short life (he lost a battle with cancer in 2004 at the age of 41).  This has been my entry point to his ouevre, and it's a good overview.

Set into three movements (or 'Lessons', as introduced by a suitably professor-like narrator), Professor Bad Trip was Romitelli's breatkthrough opus in creating a surreal, constantly-shifting blend of modern classical music and psychedelia.  Performed here by the Belgian ensemble Ictus, it's a stunning 40-minute aural hall of mirrors that takes a few listens to get a proper hold on.  Shorter pieces flesh out this release - another ensemble one, Green Yellow & Blue, and two solo works - Seascape for contrabass recorder, and Trash TV Trance for electric guitar and guitar-jack interference.  Recommended.

mega / zippy

Monday, 31 July 2017

Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia - In Cerca Di Cibo (2000)

An enduring ECM favourite of mine, In cerca di cibo (In search of sustenance) is a gorgeous, mostly mellow album of duets between two Italians - accordionist Gianni Coscia and clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi.  Half of the compositions on this gem of an album come from Fiorenzo Capri's soundtrack to a 1971 Italian TV movie about Pinocchio (see below), which provides the melancholy backbone around which jazzier material by the two musicians and others can be deftly sequenced.  Taken as a whole, it's like a street-cafe performance by two seasoned local musicians on a lazy Sunday afternoon somewhere in Italy, and always provides the sustenance that the listener has been searching for, and then some.
mega / zippy

Friday, 28 July 2017

Cybotron - Enter (1983)

Electro-rock classic from the first rays of techno's dawn.  Juan Atkins, one of the Detroit godfathers, recorded these tracks with collaborator Richard Davis; the latter favoured more of an arena-rock approach, which meant that this seminal duo wouldn't last, but here it just seems to work, widdly guitar solos and all.  For me the album tracks work best when at their most stripped back and minimal-electronic - Alleys Of Your Mind sounds like it could've been an early Mute single, not long after Warm Leatherette.  El Salvador is another favourite, as I'm a sucker for a good vocoder.

Contrary to my usual practice, bonus tracks (largely post-album singles, although Cosmic Cars appears to be virtually identical to the album version) have been kept in place here.  Quite simply, they're utterly essential, showing Atkins edging more and more toward his dream of a Parliament-Kraftwerk fission reaction that was about to explode into full-on Detroit techno.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Beatriz Ferreyra - at the Electric Spring Festival, University of Huddersfield (2017)

The BBC Proms are in full swing, and I'll be on the lookout for any of the more groundbreaking sounds that could sit nicely on this blog.  For the moment, here's something that was broadcast on Radio 3's Hear And Now about a month ago, to coincide with the composer's 80th birthday (the Electric Spring performance in question took place in February).

Argentine electroacoustic composer Beatriz Ferreyra worked at INA-GRM in Paris in the 60s, and after being shown how to cut tape and mix by Pierre Schaeffer, embarked on a sonic journey that was completely her own, and which continues to this day - the longest piece here, Senderos de luz y sombras (Paths of shadows and light) was freshly minted in 2016/17 and was receiving its UK premiere at Electric Spring.

Alongside Senderos, Ferreyra's evocation of the universe before and just after the big bang, two older pieces were featured.  Echos was originally put together in the late 70s, from tapes of the composer's niece who had passed away in a car accident.  Four acapella tapes of her singing were mixed together into a wonderfully affecting whole, complete with a poignant moment of laughter at the end.   The other work is Rio de los pájaros azules (River of the blue birds) from 1998, in which a dream of a lush, Latin American landscape is channeled into a beautifully alien-sounding fantasia.  All very listenable and fascinating stuff - recommended.

mega / zippy
N.B. cover art used is not from the actual Feb 2017 performance, but I believe it is a fairly recent picture - thought it would be a good fit when I found it.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Antonio Carlos Jobim - Stone Flower (1970)

Deodato the arranger this time, putting a perfect, not-too-lacquered sheen on what is probably my second favourite Jobim album (nothing can ever touch Wave).  Creed Taylor is of course in the producer's chair, with the CTi era now in full swing, and mellow electric pianos shimmer all over the place - not least in the most gorgeous ballad, Andorinha.  The definite highlight of this stunning record, though, has to be the extended groove through Ary Barroso's 1939 standard Aquarela do Brasil, listed here under its better known international title Brazil and topped off with a reverential Jobim vocal.  In summary, 34 minutes of summery perfection.

mega / zippy

Friday, 21 July 2017

Deodato - Night Cruiser (1980)

Magnificent jazz-funk from the era in Eumir Deodato's career where the Rio-born keyboardist/arranger/producer decisively headed for the dancefloor.  This is around the time Deodato was producing Kool & The Gang, and Night Cruiser is similarly good-time music.  Electric piano grooves, synth bloops and great brass arrangements are everywhere, along with more slap bass than you can shake a stick at.

Pretty much every box is ticked, to be honest, for what you'd expect from an album with a track called Uncle Funk.  I should start insisting that my niece and nephews call me that, but I think to qualify for the title you have to have to post a bit more than, er, one jazz-funk album a year on your blog.  Will try to seek out more - in the meantime, if you love stuff like this, Opium Hum have been crate-digging it to the max lately.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram - Five Pieces (1997)

String quartets a-plenty from Ana-Maria and Iancu (well, two of his, one of hers), with instruments being tortured within an inch of their lives and occasional tape maniplulation adding to the magnificent organised chaos.

But in addition, it's the two non-string quartet works on this disc that make it a standout in the Edition Modern catalogue.  Avram's 20-minute electronic/instrumental On The Abolition Of The Soul treats the philosophical wiritings of Émile Cioran with the nightmarish gravity that they deserve, and Dumitrescu's Fluxus, for tapes and orchestra, approaches (if not equals) the viciousness of early Pendercki.

mega / zippy

Previously posted at SGTG:
ED.MN.1001 - Medium/Cogito
ED.MN.1002 - Au Dela De Movemur
ED.MN.1003 - Pierres Sacreés
ED.MN.1004 - Musique de Paroles
ED.MN.1011 - Musique Action '98
ED.MN.1019 - In Tokyo

Monday, 17 July 2017

Françoise Hardy - s/t (aka La Question) (1971)

From Brazil to France - without entirely leaving Brazil.  Françoise Hardy's eleventh album, again untitled but retrospectively known by the title of one of its best known tracks (as per conventions of the time/genre), was a collaboration with Brazilian musician Tuca, who was living in Paris at the time.  Tuca, real name Valeniza Zagni da Silva, tragically died seven years later at age 34, having released just three albums of her own.  Here, writing all the music for Hardy's album and playing beautifully understated guitar, is perhaps her best known work, which took Hardy's career to a new level of maturity.

La Question in some ways reminds me of my favourite Astrud Gilberto album, I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do - around half an hour long, but managing to cram in a huge emotional weight in its wistful, small-hours ambience and songs about love both unrequited and long gone.  In amongst this, there's also an offbeat oddness in songs like Le Martien (French sophistication apparently dictates that alien abductors come bearing not bodily probes, but engagement rings) and in the breathy, wordless evocations of Pauline Réage's Story Of O.

Arrangements throughout this great record are restrained and always perfectly complementary to the track, right through to the closing reimagining of a song by another Brazilian musician, Taiguara.  La Question is a huge highlight not just in Françoise Hardy's discography, but in chanson in general

mega / zippy

Friday, 14 July 2017

Luiz Bonfa & Maria Toledo - Braziliana (1965)

Some classic bossanova/samba goodness to go in to the weekend with, courtesy of legendary guitarist and songwriter Luiz Bonfa and his wife Maria Toledo on vocals.  Just over half an hour of blissful, summery chillout, bookended by sweet wordless duetting and featuring Toledo's wonderful, Astrud-Gilberto's-older-sister voice on most of the tracks, with subtle, unobtrusive arrangements in the background.

Bonfa's unique and influential guitar genius takes the solo spotlight on two tracks, Boticaro and Improviso, and as part of sublime instrumental tracks on Sugar Loaf, Baroco and one of his most famous compositions Samba De Orfeu.  The latter originally came from the Black Orpheus soundtrack that springboarded Bonfa, Jobim and others to fame.  More to come in due course from all of these icons of Brazilian music, while the sun's still out (tempting fate round here, I know!).

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Eivind Aarset - Dream Logic (2012)

Eivind Aarset is a Norwegian guitarist whose stock in trade is near-ambient atmospherics, favouring heavy amounts of electronic manipulation, reverb and other effects.  He's contributed to a number of ECM projects, and this, his solo debut for the label, came out in late 2012, supported throughout by long-term collaborator Jan Bang.

As you might expect, textures and atmospheres take precedence on these 11 tracks over formal song structures (the aptly named Black Silence being the most formless), but spindly, minimal melodies abound.  The result is a gorgeous, immersive listening experience with lots of little production treats, like the little ghostly music-box melody that winds its way around the jittery jump-cuts of Jukai (Sea Of Trees), to name just one favourite.  To name another, Homage To Greene is a tribute to Peter Green, with its gentle Albatross-esque melody, but Dream Logic is best experienced as a whole, to let all of its, well, dream logic wash right over you.

mega / zippy

Monday, 10 July 2017

Various - CMCD: 6 Classic Concrete Electroacoustic & Electronic Works, 1970-1990 (1991 compi)

CMCD (Concrete Music CD) is a 1991 compilation, reissued 2004, of six pieces previously featured elsewhere on the ReR label.  I'm posting this mainly for A Quiet Gathering (1988) by Steve Moore, which I got into thanks to a comment from Peter on the Ivana Stefanović album, and was what made me track down the CMCD disc.  It's a phenomenal 22 minutes of "Chamber music for environmental sounds" - children playing, church bells, birds and so on - deftly stitched together.  In the absence of a reissue of the full album (see Peter's YouTube link) this is the only way to get hold of this masterpiece digitally.

Elsewhere, there's two highly entertaining 'plunderphonic' works from US artists bookending this compilation, one mashing up Erik Satie and the other Jerry Lee Lewis.  And don't miss the much more dark-hued Aide Memoire, composed in East Germany by Georg Katzer in 1983.  The subtitle is "Seven nightmares from the thousand year night...with sound documents from 1933-1945".  Even though some of the most infamous voices are tape-manipulated into dalek/chipmunk grotesques that (presumably intentionally) negate much of their power, the piece still carries an unsettling weight of history that neatly expands on Luigi Nono's Ermittlung from two decades previous.
cover art for first issue, 1991 (2004 cover at top)

mega / zippy

Friday, 7 July 2017

Quaternaglia ‎- Forrobodó (2000)

Something a bit more summery today - and the first Brazilian post for this year; won't be the last.  The Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet are from São Paulo and have been active since 1992.  This was their third album - a bit easier than the others (which I'm on the lookout for) to get hold of internationally thanks to Egberto Gismonti's Carmo label and its distribution deal with ECM.

Gismonti's presence looms large in the songwriting credits too - tracks 5 thru 9 are all his compositions, including a lengthy arrangement of his classic piece Forró, and a welcome dizzying run through Karatê.  The tempos throughout this great album are mostly fleet of foot, letting the sheer knotty virtuosity of the four guitarists shine as brightly as they deserve, with everything exquisitely arranged and beautifully melodic.  Highly recommended.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Georg Friedrich Haas - In Vain (2003)

Hour-long microtonal-spectral masterpiece by Austrian composer Haas (b. 1953, Graz).  The liner notes of this 2002 premiere recording use a staircase metaphor for music in common intonation, working towards a comparison of this piece with M.C. Escher's famous engraving.  A good starting point, particularly in the most dramatic final quarter with its more animated series of downward spirals and percussive thunder.

Other than that, the mood is ominous, minimal and dark - quite literally in the performance instructions, which call for complete darkness on two occasions (at 5-10 mins in, and 40-50 mins as seen in this performance).  Quite a feat of memory for the musicians working their way through the extra-small gradations in tone, and a treat for the ears, especially in the dark as intended.  Almost like the night-time flipside of all the spectral sun-rays of Gerard Grisey's Espaces Acoustiques.

mega / zippy

Monday, 3 July 2017

Pandit Pran Nath - Raga Cycle, Palace Theatre, Paris 1972 (rel. 2006)

We're long overdue some raga goodness from the master Kirana singer on these pages.  Compared to the album release from the previous year (posted here), this brief live recording sets the accompanying instruments (played by Pran Nath's US students Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela) a bit further back in the mix, so that you appreciate all the better how that wonderful voice finds its way "in between the notes".

This archival release came out on Terry Riley's label in 2006, and in fact represents only a small excerpt of the ambitious Raga Cycle that the players undertook in Paris in May 1972: performing the 'night ragas' (those intended for playing at night) on a Friday night, the 'day ragas' on the Saturday, and the 'morning ragas' on the Sunday morning.  Raga Shudh Sarang and the brief Raga Kut Todi, featured here, are both late-morning ragas (from my admittedly limited research on the fascinatingly complex rules of Indian classical music), so must have been from the Sunday morning concert.  Wonder if Riley or Young have any more in their archives?

mega / zippy

Friday, 30 June 2017

Pat Metheny Group - First Circle (1984)

Pat, Lyle & co certainly got what turned out to be their ECM farewell off to a memorable start, parodying an off-key high school marching band, which must have had hundreds of record store owners saying 'oh, you want to hear the new PMG?  You might want to skip track one... yep, definitely skip past it'.  From then on in, though, drummer Paul Wertico leads into the album proper with the sunny, upbeat Yolanda You Learn, and all was well.

The PMG sound for years to come was crystalised on this LP, although the seeds of it had been sown over the previous few years.  Yolanda goes on to feature a fine wordless vocal performance by Pedro Aznar, looking forward to the Still Life (Talking) era, before Pat whips out the guitar synth - tastefully, of course.  First Circle (the album) still retains a bit of an avant-garde edge, but for the most part the lush, South American-influenced rhythms and melodies were all in place to full out the sound beautifully.  A stunning high point for Pat to end his ECM tenure on and look to his future, that still makes for fresh, life-affirming summer listening today.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Krzysztof Penderecki - Threnody etc (1994 compi of 1970s recordings)

Feels like the ideal week for a nice back-to-basics Pendercki primer, at his most vital and extreme in these self-conducted 70s recordings for EMI of his breakthrough 60s work.  I've certainly been going back to Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima more than once since Monday (with and without David Lynch's magisterial adaptation), and reading up about the remarkable, ear-shredding piece that Penderecki originally wrote as an experiment in sonoristic writing for strings.  Apparently it was only on hearing an early performance that Penderecki "was struck by the emotional charge of the work... I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims".

All the other most recognisable pieces from this period are gathered here too, including Kubrick favourites The Awakening of Jacob, De Natura Sonoris I & II (and I've previously posted Utrenja in its entirety).  Perhaps inevitable that such striking, forceful and unique music would end up being used in film and TV again and again.

mega / zippy

Monday, 26 June 2017

Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid (2010)

Forgot how much I loved this album until one of its singles (Tightrope) turned up on a TV advert recently.  Back in 2010, this was Janelle Monáe's first full-length album, and was one of those rare double-albums where not only do none of its 18 tracks feel like filler, but it just appears to get better and better as it goes on, with the most stunningly ambitious material in its second half, culminating in a deft reconfiguration of Debussy's Clair De Lune in the penultimate song.

Before getting to that, prepare to luxuriate for an hour in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink stew of pop, soul, folk, punk rock and a full blotter-sheet's worth of psychedelia, as the rough overall concept unfolds of the titular android being sent to liberate humanity in the funkiest possible way.  If I had to pick favourites, they'd be the woozy Mushrooms & Roses with its blistering guitar solo, or the hushed choral folk of 57821, but the whole thing is just a stone cold masterpiece.  Definitely time for me to pull out the follow-up album (The Electric Lady from 2013) and enjoy it afresh, and keep my fingers crossed for the new material she's been promising for this year.

mega / zippy

Friday, 23 June 2017

Vangelis - Invisible Connections (1985)

The year after Soil Festivities, Vangelis pushed the boat right out to make his most experimental album in nearly a decade - and even ended up having it released on the esteemed Deutsche Grammophon label.  Three lengthy tracks of dark ambience make this an essential headphones-in-a-dark-room experience.

The title track is up first, and is the most free-form, with seemingly random bleeps, echoes and occasional faraway percussive sounds dominating the first half of its 19 minutes.  Atom Blaster is next, with what sounds like plucked piano strings subjected to tape manipulation, and the final track Thermo Vision is probably the highlight for me.  High electronic tones contrast with the eerie background to make for perhaps the most recognisably Vangelis-y track.  Recommended for late-night investigation.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Australian Soundscape series - White Water Rafting (1994)

Couldn't resist posting this - it's another charity shop classic.  Parted with my 99p as soon as I saw this CD, as the cover just made me laugh out loud.  Anyone else ever considered white water rafting to be "the ultimate in relaxation"?  The notes on the back cover absolutely sealed the deal, as they made me wonder if the whole exercise had been some sort of knowing pisstake - here they are in full:
"Ah, the excitement as you narrowly miss the threatening rocks around you whilst the racing water below attempts to engulf you at every turn... You are ready to relax - the wondrous sounds of nature await you..."
So how much excitement/relaxation is really to be had on this hour-long recording?  To be perfectly honest, it sounds like an hour of someone recording some birds by the side of a fast-flowing river, and I ended up quite enjoying it on those terms.  Whether someone involved in the CD release just then shoehorned in the whole rafting thing for the tourist market (other releases in the series covered camping, sailing in the Great Barrier Reef and morning in the Outback).... who knows.  As fans of Loon Talk and Frog Talk will be aware, I live for these kind of little oddities whenever they present themselves.  Oh, and in the inside cover was a list of musical releases by a related label - if I ever manage to get my hands on 'Yodelling Down Under' - you lucky, lucky people....

mega / zippy

Monday, 19 June 2017

Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram / George Astalos - Musique de Paroles (1993)

Mark your SGTG bingo cards, folks - we're following up Iannis with Iancu & Ana-Maria.  Took me ages to track this one down, and it was worth it.  Astree Lontaine is first up, a fine orchestral Dumitrescu work that stands up with the best of his large-scale works of the 80s and early 90s, e.g. Grande Ourse - the ominous droning and screeching suggesting a haunted orchestra pit.  Later on, there's a solo work apiece from the two composers - Avram's Archae for voice, and Dumitrescu's Holzwege for viola.

In between is the album's centrepiece Symetries, a half-hour long suite of five pieces based on writings by George Astalos (1933-2014), a Romanian poet and playwright who settled in Paris (I'm guessing that's why all the words are in French).  Dumitrescu and Avram take turns at filling out the sonic backdrop, as French literary-spoken word performer Pierre Lamy intones the texts on a ghostly bed of reverb and other effects.  Haunting stuff and very effective, even if you're not fluent in French - I'm certainly too rusty to get much out of Astalos' texts, but I still enjoyed these settings a lot.  The one that's stuck with me most is Magma, with Avram's bubbling and sputtering electronics.
mega / zippy