CD Reviews

Monday 16th November

November 16, 2009

kamerman gomberg guthrieI didn’t wake up until midday today, my body taking its chance to grab some rest. When I did wake the headache from last night’s bad wine kicked in. So suffice to say that today was less productive than yesterday. Today I listened to one of three new releases on a new label from New York named Copy For Your Records (yes it really is named that!) The CDr is by a trio named Delicate Sen, who are Billy Gomberg (synthesiser) Anne Guthrie (French Horn) and Richard Kamerman (motors, objects). Kamerman is also behind the label. The album does not appear to have a title, though perhaps it did at one time, as where a title should be on the sleeve there is a streak of Tipp-Ex, as if a title had been printed there and then erased. Maybe the group changed their minds after the printing was done, or maybe its a clever comment on the music. Either way someone needs to get some thinners for their Tipp-Ex.

The album contains one forty-or-so minute long track recorded somewhere called The Rebakery, which I am guessing is in a relatively noisy part of New York. I am guessing this because there is a very nice background hum on the recording, a muffled, distant sound probably coming from continuous traffic, or maybe its just an air con unit down the corridor. Either way, the gentle rumble, coupled with a slight hiss of mic gain provides an excellent bed for the music that the trio place on top of it. The piece uses a lot of space.  Although silences are not left to run for any long period of time they are frequent, and the sounds we hear have a lot of room between them. Until the last few minutes it is rare that all three musicians make sounds at the same time, and quite often we just hear one of the trio with slight overlaps here and there. The overall style of the music reminds me of what we might have expected from the Off-Site space in Tokyo around the turn of the decade- quiet, disjointed, seemingly unconnected sounds appearing and then disappearing one after the other, while the hum of the city sits in the background.

The track was recorded in March this year, with Kamerman using his Unami-esque set-up of bits of broken motors and metallic sounding objects to create little bursts of chaotic rattling and drilling on a small scale. Gomberg keeps his synth to mainly low extended notes, sometimes allowing them to rise up in volume and fill the room, sometimes letting them flit past almost unnoticed. Guthrie’s horn works in a similar manner, shortish bursts of one note or brief little non-melodic excursions that seem to be repeated here and there, but all done very cleanly and precisely. For the most part, there is considerable restraint placed upon the playing, as if the stepping stone-like structure was decided in advance somehow, or developed through several playing sessions leading up to this one. After half an hour or so the music seems to pick up a very steady momentum and the silences give way to more extended sounds and repeating sounds that grow in intensity. Then everything but an odd little repeated gasp of synth cuts out, and this section of tiny squirts of sound continues for a while with what I take to be the noise of the city continuing. Twenty seconds from the end though this dull roar I like so much suddenly fades out, leaving just the synth for the last few seconds and causing me to wonder if it had perhaps not been part of the music rather than external sounds I was hearing all along.

This is a decent album, complete with a little bit of mystery. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I like it. I suspect that if I had been in the room when it was recorded my understanding of the music and what I am hearing on this CDr would be different, whether for better or worse I’m not sure. As it is it is a nice piece of patient, angular improvisation that quite often sounds composed. It has an odd, edgy feel to it that I can’t quite explain, and the additional elements in the recording add to the curiosity value. Good stuff, and great sleeve design as well.

Tomorrow I am off to London, hopefully to attend the big Turner show at the Tate, but definitely to do to the 9! concert at the ICA, part of a larger evening of performances. Say hi if you are there.

Comments (3)

  • simon reynell

    November 17, 2009 at 1:00 am

    For once I’ve heard a disc by the time you review it….

    Somewhat to my surprise, you seem less enthusiastic about this one than I am. “Good” and “decent” from you, where I said “very good” over at IHM, and I stand by that, though I haven’t listened enough times to be able to point to anything that might explain why. I certainly found it fresh and capable of surprising me – a bit like the Tipp-ex on the cover. Recommended.

  • Richard Pinnell

    November 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

    HI Simon

    T o be clear, I like the disc quite a bit, and it is one I can see myself returning to, mainly because I don’t feel I have fully worked it all out in my head yet. These days I find it hard to know how to “rank” CDs into good/very good/exceptional etc… order. I’ve long given up mentally compiling a Top 10 as the year goes by. If I was to measure CDs by how often I play them before they go back on the shelf this one wouldn’t do so badly though.

  • RFKorp

    November 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Richard! Just found this since I’ve been busy on tour.

    Thought you’d be interested to know that the hum was in fact an air conditioning unit that we were unable to control but just happened to shut itself off at the perfect moment in our music to help trigger that ending :)

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