CD Reviews

Sunday 17th July

July 17, 2011

Home again tonight then, actually feeling a little worse for wear after a couple of days of decadent living, too much food, not enough exercise 9because of the bad weather) etc… still, we had a great time. This evening, since getting back I have spent most of my time sat very still, reading a book, studying the sleeves of the sixteen pieces of vinyl I brought back with me and listening to some music. Its almost an odd feeling to put on a CD tonight after a couple of days almost without music. I do Julie the favour of not attempting to play anything when we go away like this, and to be honest it does me good to take a break as well, though there really is no way to switch my ears off fully. This morning, sat quietly on the sofa nursing a badly needed coffee that had been delayed because of a temporary power failure, I shut my eyes and listened to everything around me. Julie was in the shower, and the unmistakeable rush of water could be heard, but also the similar, but less concentrated sound of heavy rain hitting the roof could be heard. Alongside this the fridge in the apartment let out a gentle hum and BBC Radio 3, playing very quietly beside me let a scratchy recording of a Brahms piano/violin piece recorded back in the thirties mingle with everything else. So I don’t take any CDs away with me, but the listening moments are still often sublime, and the more relaxed I am, the more acute they seem to get. Anyway… a CD…

Tonight I have been listening to Stodgy, the rather excellently titled new album on MIkroton by the duo of Norbert Moslang (cracked everyday electronics) and eRikm (3k-pad loop system and electonics, obviously). Now, I have to admit to not really being much of a fan of either of these guys’ music before in the past. They have released a lot of music, and there have been nice little bits here and there, but generally both musicians, even though they have worked in quite different areas in the past, have tended to fall just outside of my taste bracket in the past. Moslang, in his work with Voice Crack and later solo always just a bit too ugly/grainy electronic splatter for my liking and eRikm has just leant a little too close to the fast cuts of hip hop production. No qualitative judgements made then, just a recognition of the gap between the sounds these guys make and my personal taste. So a duo CD of older recordings by the pair might not be something I’d enjoy that much then?

Well yes and no. The palette of sounds used here is still not entirely one that I like that much, but in places the structure of the music here is very appealing indeed. There are three tracks, but then also four “ad-lib” recording sites are listed  which is an interesting choice of words, as I assume that at least to some degree the pieces are improvised, or maybe are constructed from improvised material. The material used has been recorded at four different live shows spread across three different countries, recorded over a three year period between 2002 and 2005, and yet the music has a consistency throughout that could easily see the music mistaken for the results of one session. So Moslang’s buzzing, groaning, misfiring electronics, and eRikm’s squelchy, synthetic scribbling often feel as frenetic and loose as ever, but there is a sense of post-production based composition here that somehow overlays a frame of control over at least some of the music, keeps it from feeling just too wild and abandoned and makes Stodgy feel a lot less, well, stodgy and instead more carefully arranged. To be clear, I think these pieces are mostly improvised, as they retain a lot of fluidity, but it does feel like they have been arranged at least in some part.

There isn’t really much silence here, for the most part the CD is on the louder side, but there are subtle clips and cuts applied to the music that tend to reign in sections that feel bloated and stretch things out generally, placing quiet, burbling sections together, allowing the music to build in density before either being cut dead or gently collapsed in on itself. It all still sounds like an accident when an emergency vehicle with a broken siren crashed into a shortwave radio factory, but  the degree of composition I am assuming has been applied retrospectively to the recordings to create these three works manages to reel in enough of the chaos to produce something actually quite listenable and engaging. The stodginess is still there, and maybe this isn’t a CD to put on on a quiet evening when you want to listen to something quietly refined, but the album is only half an hour long, and a fair amount of restraint and self-control has been applied throughout to make this into an album I could easily play several times over the last week and enjoy each time. I’m interested then, to know how much of this music is a straight recording of the improvisations, and how much has been adjusted later. Nice sleeve image by the way…

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