CD Reviews

Monday 9th August

August 9, 2010

scan0010Tonight, another only semi-official release on the Copy for your Records label run by New Yorker Richard Kamerman. This disc, a CDr sent out by Kamerman to those that showed an interest features a short, (just twenty-two minutes) live recording from November 2009 of Tandem Electrics, Kamerman’s raw electronics duo with Reed Rosenberg, whose first album I wrote about way back here. The set here is best described as rough and ready from many different perspectives. The electronics we hear sound on the edge of breakdown, all twisted, faltering circuitry and perhaps some elemental computerised synths, plus small chattering percussive sounds, probably the result of Kamerman amplifying the small motors and electric engines he likes to work with.

The sounds have a gritty, earthy edge to them. Even the silences here are undercut by gentle monitor hum, and so much of what is presented as music might easily be mistaken for the sounds of musicians setting up for a soundcheck, plugs being put in and out, blasts of feedback etc, but it is this raw energy that gives this music its edge. It feels as if there are no frills, no unnecessary aesthetic niceties, just the barren, simple elements required to make electronic music, using instruments discovered and adapted rather than bought for the purpose in hand. There are samples in there as well, voices open the set, and a strange looping guitar-like dirge, lost in the muddy exterior of the recording ends the set, and at the halfway point there is a strange computerised little tune, just a couple of seconds long and a bit like the start up chimes of a computer running an operating system I’ve never heard of before. Much of the second half of the recording is also forced down under a constant, somewhat oppressively piercing and whining tone that rises and falls in intensity, and at its loudest and most intense had me reaching for the volume dial.

Somehow though, all of these seemingly chaotic parts hang together into something that sounds controlled and deliberate. The recording quality of the music isn’t up to much, being a live set captured (I suspect) using relatively simple ├é┬árecording equipment, but this factor seems to just add to the glue holding it all together. The overriding sensation is not one of instrumental skill or finely executed precision, but of a brutally direct, very simple and yet multifaceted form of improvisation. Both musicians have a history playing various forms of noise music, and the highly physical, direct way that noise music connects with its audience is also present here, but on the whole while high volume is passed over here, the unadorned ugliness of the sounds used on 20091119 (as this disc is titled) reflect those found in much modern noise music.

There are better recordings out there of this end of the improvised music scene, many of them involving Kamerman. For a more solid, cohesive listening experience I would recommend Intaglio, the Tandem Electrics album I mentioned earlier before this new live CD, but as a snapshot of a duo working within a style that I rather like this is a listenable and worthwhile brief CD. It is what it is, a rough recording of a short live concert caught somewhere amidst a long tour. It makes me wish I could have been at the concert so as to understand the mysteries of the sounds a lot better, but its ultimately probably a CDr that will now go on a shelf and not be thought of again until the duo next release something more. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the CDr has been issued by Kamerman to those interested in the music currently being produced by the Tandem Electrics duo. It probably wasn’t even meant to be reviewed like this. I suspect that it isn’t designed to be any kind of definitive statement beyond a live document of a good gig, and so it works very well within the given parameters. I’m not sure how available this disc really is, but those with an interest in these musicians would be advised to seek a copy out.

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