CD Reviews

Wednesday 10th June

June 11, 2009

Well its nearly 2AM and I am only just starting tonight’s entry. Another late evening at work means another late night. Its quite ironic but when I cleared down the spam tonight caught in my exceedingly reliable comments filter there was four “comments” advertising cures for insomnia. I don’t actually have any problem sleeping once i get to bed, I just don’t get there early enough!

For the last forty or so minutes as I cooked something and then ate it I have been listening tot he fourth release on Julian Skrobek’s Appel Music label, a CDr by our favourite Malaysian feedback and electronics musician Goh Lee Kwang. Waver is a single forty-one minute piece constructed using (I think) recordings and samples of mixing board feedback and maybe some other odds and ends. It is a simple, but well constructed work, not too many different events taking place at once, a very basic “building blocks” kind of approach to composition but it works all the more for this. All of the sounds have a dirty, frayed-edge sound to them, perhaps revealing the haphazard way some of them may have been originally created, but there is a nice sense of patience and careful positioning to these sounds. For much of the time a very quiet, seemingly innocent background churning sound can be heard, but above this thick, heavy tones pop in and out, blocks of rich digital feedback slide occasionally past and a few persistent drones make their presence felt for extended periods of time.

If all of this reads quite pedestrian and everyday I should probably say at this point that the CD does sound very fresh and original. It is hard to think of anything similar in style and intention to this album. If, in places, the drones and limited range of sounds on show suggest a lack of ideas the subtle, refined sense of structure to the music overcome this. In places the heavier tones do really begin to get under the skin and rattle the nerves, but not quite for too long, and the sudden holes left every time the tones depart adds a sense of tension and drama to proceedings that are enough to hold the music together and keep things from disappearing into a soupy mess of uninteresting sound.Â

Compared to other releases by GLK Waver probably has a stronger sense of structure and completeness than any earlier discs. Put together (I think?) in post production there has been considerably more thought given to the work as a whole and how individual events may affect each other than I have witnessed on previous releases. This one is good, though in places some of the sounds presented to our ears can really begin to grate, particularly via headphone listening. When some of the really syrupy continual tones blast out like the rich cloying sounds that fill the last ten minutes of the track I found myself dropping the volume out of fear for my ears.

Waver is pretty good though, and an interesting listen from one of out most prolific musicians. It does not quite sound like anything else I have by GLK either, which betrays a sense of personal discovery. It is more organic sounding while at the same time retaining a good degree of rigid timing. I will admit that when very tired tonight I found the relentlessness of some of the heavy sounds hard to stay focused on, but listened to clearly without the worry of falling asleep I am sure it would reward careful listening. A good one.

I have now booked a room for tomorrow night in London near to Café Oto so that I don’t have to try and struggle with the Tube strike getting home to Didcot. I will try and listen to some music on the way into town in the morning and maybe post mid-afternoon before the first night of the Unnamed Festival, assuming I can find the space and time to do so. Maybe see some of you there tomorrow.

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