CD Reviews

Monday 26th January

January 27, 2009

(Go read the post below before this one!)

So we’d better make a start. So what did I listen to today?

Well a bit of background about my recent listening habits first. Since the turn of the year I have been on my usual January health kick/midlife crisis routine and have taken to going to work by train rather than by car, which includes a walk to and from the station of about a mile each way. In the past I’ve not been able to do this, but as right now I am working continually at one easily accessible site in Oxford I am thoroughly enjoying the exercise, the chance to listen to music during the walk, the chance to read or write sat on the train and the fact that getting to work far more relaxed without the stress of traffic hold-ups and with a coffee in hand is a much more agreeable way to start a day.

So I’ve been listening to a lot more music. Which is always a good thing. Today I listened to two albums during the two journeys. My trip into town was spent in the company of the Mitsuhiro Yoshimura / Masahiko Okura album called Trio that was released late last year on Antoine Duluard’s new Presquile label. I’ve been listening to this, and the other release involving Yoshimura on the same label on and off for a week or more now, simply because I am writing a review of the releases for PT that will appear in February. I’ll save my opinions for the review, but one thing I will say is that these discs make a good companion for train journeys. The sounds within Yoshimura’s music match the unfriendly whine of modern First Great Western trains perfectly, and the clatter and conversation around the carriage is a perfect foil for the other partly audience-generated sounds that can be heard on those releases.

The other piece of music formed the soundtrack to my walk home late tonight, in the dark with a cold frost hanging in the air, lit up quite beautifully in places by streetlamps. I played Tim Blechmann’s solo recording rrr which is available here as a free FLAC download, as most of Tim’s music usually is. As I think I have written here before I have a real soft spot for Blechmann’s laptop music. He releases an awful lot of it, and critics could be forgiven for suggesting that much of it is very similar, made up of slow (very slow) gradually building grainy drones. (An even more fitting titled for the release might have been rrrrrrrrrr…) However it is a very subtle, carefully crafted music that is actually (despite the uninteresting image that my poor attempt at description above conjurs up) quite unlike much else I’ve heard over recent months.

Blechmann’s music, and in particular his solo material suggests to me what noise music could be if it was not tied to the testosterone-fuelled need for excrutitatingly high volume. Many of the same features can be found in his music; the slow building of textured layers to a crescendo and grey on grey sounds without any incidental colours. The missing volume allows you to listen carefully to what is happening in the music though, and the constantly shifting layers slowly reveal the detail within them as you lose yourself in the mass of sound.

Tim Blechmann’s work sometimes reminds me of the seminal music present on the first few albums by Thomas Koner back in the nineties, that slowly evolving glacial drift that is full of drama, and yet unfolds so gradually that the changes seem so slight. I think there is a real link to the sounds I grew up with here in Didcot, Oxfordshire in this music. About once a fortnight in the late evening the enormous coal-fired power station that casts a shadow over the town makes a similar gentle roaring sound as the massive chimneys are blasted clean. This sound has been present through all of my life and is a comforting sound that means I am home. I hear something of this in the music of Blechmann as I once did in Koner. Unless you live in Didcot, or near a similar power station this connection will mean nothing to you, but it goes some way I think to explain why Blechmann’s music has a peculiar attraction for me.

There are a number of Tim Blechmann’s solo works available at present along with as many collaborative pieces out there as well. His two solo CDRs for the Why Not label are still available, entitled M and Replugged, he has a release available on Mattin’s Free Software Series label called re-reading that you can download here and if you look here you’ll find more besides again. For me, Blechmann may well really shine when collaborating with another like-minded musician, two of whom are Klaus Filip, (Their release The Organ of Corti under the name of Taus was released to nowhere near enough acclaim a few years back on the L’innomable label) and his most recent frequent collaborator Manuel Knapp. This last pairing has presented us with two very recent album length pieces I have been enjoying a great deal. Imaginatively titled Untitled_21 and Untitled_22 the two recordings can be picked up as free FLAC files, the first from Blechmann’s own Moka Bar label again, and the second from the French label Uzusounds. I’ll write more about those here soon, but for now go and download them.

 Now don’t expect me to write that much every day!

Comments (3)

  • Massimo Magee

    January 27, 2009 at 6:13 am

    great to see this new venture getting off to a good start richard! I’ll look forward to reading regularly!


  • Cornelis

    January 27, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Hi Richard,



  • Alastair

    January 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Good luck with the daily posting thing Richard. As someone who tried to do it (working week only) for a year I know how difficult it can be.

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